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Title: The Dark Invader
Author: Captain Franz von Rintelen
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Title: The Dark Invader
Author: Captain Franz von Rintelen

* * * * *

The Dark Invader
War-Time Reminiscences of a German Naval Intelligence Officer
Captain Franz von Rintelen (?-1949)


First published 1933
First Penguin printing 1936

* * * * *


I scanned this text from a Penguin (paperback, of course) printed on the
vile paper of the Great Depression of the late 1930s. The front cover
bore the normal penguin emblem of the day, but the logo on the title
page was the "Dancing Penguin" that the company introduced sometime
during the depression. The idea was to convey a national cheerfulness,
but allegedly they dropped that logo because some people thought that it
suggested appendicitis rather than dancing.

As for its content, the book struck me as a particularly unaffected and
revealing view of one man's Great War, including his commitment and
bitterness. It was not without prejudice of course, but that is
understandable. One cannot reasonably expect cool impartiality in every
matter from a combatant on either side, who had suffered many things,
including incompetence, treachery and ingratitude.

There are a few minor infelicities in style, for instance the over-use
of exclamation marks tends to grate nowadays, but it was perfectly
acceptable in continental writing and was common in the writing of
anglophone continentals. That, and some other ticks and tricks of
language are not fair game for criticism. They certainly do no harm to
the author's power of expression or self-expression. Interestingly, I
have the impression that there are more Germanisms in the later chapters
than in the rest of the book. I am not sure whether that has to do with
the greater with which he recalled those days.

I have as far as convenient retained the usages of the day, such as
hyphens in words that are not customarily hyphenated today, such as

Generally little seems to be known about von Rintelen, though according
to sources other than this book, he lived from 1878 to 1949. Although
the first declaration of war in WWI was by Austria-Hungary on Serbia on
July 28 1914, the war was as such was not so much declared as it jus'
growed by continual declarations of war. England for example was the
severalth belligerent to join in, which it did on August 12 1914. Japan
declared war on August 25, and the USA in April 1917. The period of von
Rintelen's active participation was up to about August 13th 1915, a year
after the start of WWI.

Nowadays it still is a little confusing to read of WWI referred to as
just "the War" or sometimes "the Great War", but of course for more than
a decade after the armistice few people had any inkling that there could
be another such a war. In its time after all, WWI commonly was referred
to as the war to end all war. Some hope! Some people, fairly reasonably
in my opinion, see WWII as being in essence a continuation of WWI.

As for the accuracy of von Rintelen's account, I seem to read minor
anomalies, particularly concerning dates. These however, could easily
result from errors in memory, notes or transcriptions. Anyway, possibly
I simply misunderstood some statements. The bulk of the text carries
effectively full conviction.

On an independent line of thought concerning futile "what-ifs": von
Rintelen's perspective on the war and the significance of his role in
its course are necessarily distorted, but if the effects of his actions
were at all in proportion, then his activities must have decidedly
lengthened WWI. If I am correct in this speculation, then if say, he had
been arrested by the HMS Essex before reaching the USA, or been killed
in a traffic accident on returning from the Foreign Office with the
British declaration of war, it would have saved millions of lives on
both sides.

Even the effective efforts of competent and honourable servants of their
countries or ideals do not always have desirable outcomes. Does that
mean that the competent and honourable among us should refrain from
doing what we can for what we believe to be the best? I hardly think so.

I find myself very much appreciating the remarks in A. E. W. Mason's
preface, which I see as a valuable supplement to the main text. It would
have been a pity to waste such sources of historical and personal
insight, and I hope that you enjoy the text and find it useful.

Interestingly, the story as told also tells a good deal more of several
major incidents than I have read elsewhere. I suspect that this book is
a much undervalued source. However, according to information in the
British library, there is a new edition (London: Frank Cass, 1997, ISBN
0714643475) that includes an introduction by Reinhard R. Doerries and
bibliographic information. At the time of writing I have not seen that
edition, but it might be interesting to see whether it has any reference
to some startling claims within this book, for example, concerning the
fate of the squadron of Admiral Graf von Spee when he undertook an
attack on Port Stanley in the Falklands.

I was nonplussed to read: "...the _Deutschland,_ which was a mercantile
submarine...", but the Internet Wikipedia article "Merchant submarine"
clarified matters. Here is a short, edited extract from a much longer
article on a broader subject:

The submarines [_Deutschland_ and _Bremen_] were built in 1916 by a
private shipping company...They were intended to the
neutral U.S...[carrying] trade goods both ways...The _Deutschland_ had
a carrying capacity of 700 tons (much of it outside the pressure hull),
and could travel at 15 knots on the surface and 7 knots while
submerged...On its first journey to the US..._Deutschland_ carried 163
tons of highly sought-after chemical dyes, as well as medical drugs and
mail...and soon [returned with rubber, nickel and tin, having traveled
8,450 naval miles, 190 submerged. Profit from the journey was more than
four times the building cost.]

* * * * *


* * * * *

From Admiral Sir Reginald Hall,
the Chief of the Naval Intelligence Division during the War.
August 13th, 1932.*

[* Footnote: The anniversary of my capture by the British--off


I wish to tell you to-day that I, as you know, have the greatest
sympathy for you. I know well that you have suffered more than a man
should be called on to suffer, and I am full of admiration for the
manner in which you have retained your balance of mind and your courage.

That the fortune of war made it my job to bring so many disasters on
you, that is my sorrow, and if by anything I can do I can in some manner
assist to get you peace and happiness, I shall feel happy myself.

Sincerely yours,


* * * * *


Men engaged in Intelligence Services during a war divide their
particular opponents into two classes. One consists of neutrals who go
out of their way to help the enemy for the sake of gain; and for such
men we have not much compassion should they fall upon misfortune. They
are interfering in great matters with which they are not concerned, in
order to make a little money. The other class is made up of men who,
abandoning the opportunities of their own careers, go secretly away in
the sacred service of their country, play a lone hand, and run the
gauntlet of foreign laws. For such we can have nothing but respect while
the fight is going on and friendship when it is over.

Captain Franz von Rintelen belongs to this latter class. A young naval
officer with every likelihood of reaching to high rank, he went abroad
in 1915 and only saw his own country again after the lapse of six
strenuous and, in part, unhappy years. The history of those years is
told in this book. The conversations which he records depend, of course,
upon his memory; the main facts we are able to check, and we know them
to be exact.

The book is written, as one would expect from his record, without the
least rancour, and I think I am not trenching upon the province of
criticism when I add--with admirable simplicity. It is a record which is
more detailed and concerned with endeavours on a vastly wider scale than
is usual in such accounts. One cannot, I think, read it without
recognising, apart from the magnitude of the things attempted and done,
the terrific strain under which he lived; and this gives a moving and
human quality to the narrative which sets it a little apart from any
other which I have read. Those who are most saturated in spy stories
will find much to surprise them in this volume, and they will not be
likely to forget the poignant minutes which he spent on the top of an
omnibus in London and the way in which those minutes ended.

The book has other grounds for consideration. It throws a clear light
upon the efficiency of the English Intelligence Services, for one thing.
For another, it reveals that the jealousies of Department--which in
other countries did so much to hamper the full prosecution of the
War--were just as rife in Germany itself, and that the picture of German
concentration with which we were all terrifying ourselves in 1914 had no
solid foundation in fact. Finally, here is as good an argument against
War as a man could find in twenty volumes devoted to that subject alone.

A. E. W. Mason
Late Major, R. M. L. I.

* * * * *


PART I   _ADMIRALSTAB_ The Naval War Staff in Berlin
PART II  _SABOTAGE_ The Manhattan "Front"
PART III _BLIGHTY_ A Guest at Donington, Hall
PART IV  _BACK IN AMERICA_ "Grand Hotel": Atlanta

* * * * *

The Naval War Staff in Berlin

It is the afternoon of August the 4th, 1914. We junior officers of the
Admiralty Staff sit at our desks and wait and wait. War has been
declared, and every now and then the troops, who are being dispatched to
the Western and the Eastern Front, march past our windows. The music of
a band bursts into our quiet rooms, we tear open the windows for a
moment, and wave to the comrades whom the War is sweeping into action.

It is the afternoon of August the 4th, 1914. We sit in our offices at
the Admiralty, and our nerves can hardly stand the strain of waiting any
longer. From time to time a rumour runs through the building. Our Chiefs
are said to have indicated to the Government once more that, according
to information received from our Naval Attaché in London and from our
secret agents, England will certainly not remain neutral. We, the
officers of the Admiralty Staff, are convinced that soon the English
warships will turn their bows towards the south. At night, as we sit
anxiously in our rooms and talk in hushed voices, we wait for something
to happen, for some news that will turn our presentiment into fact. The
war with France and Russia is a war to be conducted by the Army, a
military war, in which important tasks presumably will not fall to the
Navy. But if England...! We wait and wait.

It is the afternoon of August the 4th, 1914. The door of my room opens,
and an order comes from my Chief telling me to go immediately to the
Foreign Office to receive an important piece of news. The order directs
me to bring this news with the greatest expedition to the Admiralty in
the Königin Augusta-Strasse.

As my instructions are handed to me I rise from my chair. A few more
officers happen to be in the room, and they hold their breath as I read
out the order.

"Every minute counts"--so the instructions end.

We all have the feeling that something is about to happen that touches
us closely. We suppress our agitation before the orderly, but while I
quickly get ready to leave, one of my comrades takes up the
telephone-receiver to inform Police Headquarters that in a few minutes a
service car of the Admiralty will be racing through the Bendlerstrasse,
the Tiergartenstrasse, and the Voss-Strasse, and that the road has to be
kept clear for it.

The car races away. I am soon standing on the steps of the Foreign
Office. An attendant throws open the door, and I pass through the hall,
to find myself suddenly in a large room.

On a red plush sofa sit two gentlemen--Sir Edward Goschen, the
Ambassador of His Britannic Majesty, and Mr. James W. Gerard, the
Ambassador of the United States. Sir Edward looks depressed and,
half-turned towards Gerard, is talking in a low voice.

It is the afternoon of August the 4th, 1914, and as I stand in the room,
with this scene before me, I at once realise its meaning. I now know the
nature of the news that I have to take back as quickly as possible to
the Admiralty. I know that Sir Edward Goschen has just handed over
England's declaration of war, and that the American Ambassador, Mr.
Gerard, has come to the Foreign Office with him to explain that he will
take over the representation of British interests in Germany.

For a moment my knees tremble as the whole significance in world-history
of this incident opens up before me. Then I remember that I am a naval
officer, and enthusiasm rises high in me. I see the Fleet setting out in
a few minutes, with the heavy smoke-streamers of the German torpedo-boat
flotillas hanging in the evening sky over the North Sea.

But suddenly I sober down. I notice the look of indifference on the face
of Gerard, sitting on the sofa in a brown lounge suit, not, like
Goschen, in top-hat and frock-coat. Goschen sits in a correct attitude
and is visibly much distressed, but Gerard is leaning over, half-turned
towards him, resting against the sofa cushions. He has one leg crossed
over the other, and lounges there, nonchalant and comfortable, turning
his straw-hat on the handle of his walking-stick with his fingers. With
disconcerting coolness, his eyes fixed on the ceiling, he quietly
murmurs: "Yes, perhaps the only peaceful country in the world will soon
be Mexico."

Mexico! A country which was then distracted by civil war!

Herr von Jagow, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, enters the
room and gives me a sealed envelope. I know what it contains. I bow,
first to him, and then to the two Ambassadors, and hardly know how I get
down the steps. My car starts, and rushes through the Voss-Strasse, the
Tiergartenstrasse, and the Bendlerstrasse, to the Admiralty. At the
street corners, at the busy crossing-places, stand policemen, who, the
moment our car comes into view, raise their hands high and stop the
traffic so that we may not be held up.

Before the Admiralty building the driver jams on the brakes, so that the
car stops with a jerk. I run up the steps. Two senior staff officers are
standing at the door of the Chief, and make a dash at me. Captain von
Bülow, head of the Central Department, tears open the envelope.

He concentrates on the letter for a moment, then turns half left and
calls to the Commandant of the Nauen Wireless Station, standing behind

"Commandant! Get Nauen going!"

The Commandant runs to his room, and snatches up the receiver of the
telephone which communicates direct with Nauen.

Two seconds later the High Seas Fleet knows, and in another second all
the torpedo-boat flotillas: "War with England!"

The stations in the Baltic and the North Sea, the cruisers in the
Atlantic and our squadrons are warned within a few minutes.

* * * * *

We had all expected that after the British declaration of war the High
Seas Fleet would immediately put to sea. We had thought that the
Admiralty would become a centre where the threads of great naval
movements would be gathered together; we had thought that the Navy too
would intervene in the fight for Germany's existence. But what we so
confidently expected did not happen: the High Seas Fleet remained where
it was, and, instead of taking part in the fighting, the Admiralty Staff
became involved in passionate political conflicts. Just when we expected
that the Naval Command would give the order to attack we were summoned
to a conference of officers. We were informed:

"The Imperial Chancellor's view may be summarised as follows: We must
not provoke England! We are assured from authoritative British quarters
that England is only taking part in the War for appearances, and in
fulfilment of purely military agreements of which the Foreign Office has
been kept in ignorance. Energetic action on the part of the German Fleet
would inevitably bring about a change of feeling in England!"

That was the view of the Chancellor. It was not, however, the view of
the Admiralty; and it was certainly nothing new that differences should
arise between the politicians and the admirals on the question of the
interpretation of Britain's intentions prior to and at the outbreak of
the War.

Even shortly before the War there yawned an abyss between the opinions
of the two parties as to whether England would participate or not. These
opinions were very sharply divided in the first days of August, when
hostilities were already in full swing on the Continent, but England was
still maintaining her attitude of reserve.

Whenever a telegram came from Lichnowsky, the Ambassador at the Court of
St. James, to say that England thought neither of breaking with her
tradition of not mixing in continental quarrels, nor of taking up arms
against Germany, regularly and simultaneously there came a telegram from
the Naval Attaché in London, Captain von Müller, to the effect that
England, to all appearances, was on the verge of opening hostilities at
sea. This state of things at last became grotesque. Dispatches,
representing the two opposing standpoints, were coming in every day,
until at last war broke out and England proclaimed that Germany was her

It was on the morning of August the 4th, the day when England was to
declare war on Germany through her Ambassador, Sir Edward Goschen, that
a telegram arrived from Captain von Müller, which ran as follows:

"Stand firm by the conviction, in spite of the Ambassador's different
opinion, that trouble is brewing for us here."

On the morning of August the 5th, twelve hours after the formal delivery
of the declaration of war, when nobody expected any further telegrams
from the German Embassy in London, there arrived a wire from Prince
Lichnowsky. It ran:

"The old gentleman [Asquith] has just declared to me, with tears in his
eyes, that a war between the two peoples, who are related by blood, is

The Kaiser annotated it in his characteristic large handwriting. In the
margin of the Ambassador's message he wrote:

"What an awakening the man will have from his diplomatic dreams!"

So we were now no longer surprised at the view taken by the Imperial
Chancellor. It so happened that a few hours later I had to see Admiral
von Tirpitz. Owing to family friendship he had occasionally made me the
recipient of his confidences. I found him in a mood of utter despair. He
sat in his chair, looking years older, and told me repeatedly that he
had not the slightest desire to go with the "confounded General
Head-quarters" to Coblenz. He feared that there he would be checkmated;
and as he said all this, as though to himself, I suddenly perceived an
abyss before me. At this tremendous hour, at a time when everything had
to be subordinated to the one purpose of saving the Fatherland, which
was threatened with enemies on every side, the situation was dominated
by intrigues, malice, and motives of a petty and personal kind. When
Tirpitz should have taken over the command of the High Seas Fleet and
concentrated its units in the North Sea against England, the Chief of
the Naval Cabinet, Admiral von Müller, and some of his immediate
entourage, were making efforts to frustrate him. The Chancellor had
represented to the Kaiser that Tirpitz was too old to discharge an
important war-time function.

It goes without saying that in the war which had now broken out we
younger officers were not inclined to place political above purely
military considerations. That was all less to be expected since we had
for years been taught that our numerical inferiority to England at sea
was only to be compensated by the success of a quick attack which should
take the enemy by surprise. The tactics now employed against England, of
merely waiting to deal with whatever move the enemy made, were not at
all to our liking. So we had, however, to turn our longing for action
into some channel, and we put all our energies into furthering the
activities of our cruisers abroad.

Our ships of the Mediterranean Squadron, the battle-cruiser _Goeben_ and
the light cruiser _Breslau,_ had attracted unwelcome attention off the
coast of Algeria Rod had naturally drawn down strong English and French
fighting forces upon themselves. They shook off the pursuing ships by a
bold stroke: they ran into Messina, where they applied for coal from the
Italian Navy.

Admiral Souchon, the Commander of the German Squadron, at once saw the
Commander of the _Diffesa Marittima_ at Messina, to urge upon him the
absolute necessity that Germany's Ally should not leave her in the
lurch. In view, however, of the fact that a Royal Decree had just been
issued forbidding coal to leave Italy, he could only telegraph to the
Admiralty in Rome for instructions. It so happened that the Minister of
Marine in Rome was Admiral Mille, who during the recent Italo-Turkish
War had been brusquely prevented from taking his squadron into the
Dardanelles by a stem protest from Whitehall. Admiral Souchon's need
proved Millo's opportunity; and, giving loyalty to Italy's Ally as his
motive, Admiral Millo at once ordered Admiral Souchon's squadron to be
supplied with "best quality Cardiff coal" in the Royal Dockyards.

Having thus succeeded in replenishing their bunkers, the _Goeben_ and
_Breslau_ put out from Messina under cover of darkness and made for the
Eastern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, a poor, unfortunate Italian steamer, about to enter the
Adriatic, was taken by the lynx-eyed British for a German warship and
furiously bombarded, though luckily without success.

The Nauen Wireless Station permitted us in Berlin to listen, to the
exchange of courtesies between the British and French Squadron
Commanders--cursing over the German Squadron having made its "get-away."

Admiral Souchon brought his two ships, twenty-four hours ahead of their
pursuers, into the Dardanelles. As the Dardanelles, however, since the
Berlin Congress of 1878, had been neutralised, and the passage of the
Straits was barred to warships of all nations, Turkey was threatened
with international complications and with the protests of Germany's
enemies, if she allowed the two ships to remain where they were. All
these difficulties, however, had been foreseen by Admiral Souchon, who
had already wirelessed a pressing request to the German Ambassador in
Constantinople to prevent any such complications. The Ambassador, Herr
von Wangenheim, had a brilliant idea. When the two ships reached
Constantinople they were transferred immediately to Turkish ownership.
The Admiral put on a Turkish fez instead of his naval cap, and fired a
salute in honour of his new Sovereign. The British Ambassador in
Constantinople raised a furious protest, but the ships remained Turkish.
They were in the Imperial Ottoman service, which meant that, financially
at any rate, they would very soon be on the rocks.

On Saturday evening, the 15th of August, some days after hearing the
welcome news of their arrival, I was descending the staircase in the
Admiralty building at Berlin, when I met my departmental Chief, who took
me into his room and showed me a dispatch from Admiral Souchon, which
had just been received. It ran as follows:

"Turkish tradesmen and contractors refuse German paper money. Immediate
dispatch five million marks in minted gold absolutely necessary."

My departmental Chief looked at me and said:

"We can't leave Admiral Souchon in the lurch! But where are we going to
get the gold? Who's _got_ gold? No more being issued. But something must
be done, and pretty quickly."

"The regulation should not, of course, apply to cases of this sort," I
said. "I'll try my luck with the Reichsbank."

"Good!" he replied. "Do what you like, but see to it that Admiral
Souchon gets his gold."

As I stood in the street and looked round for a taxi, a private car
stopped in front of me. The wife of the Spanish Ambassador beckoned to

"Good evening, Captain!' called the Marquesa. Can I give you a lift

"To the Reichsbank!"

In front of the Reichsbank, on the Hausvogteiplatz, Landwehr reservists
in shakos had taken the place of the Infantry of the Guard in their
spiked helmets. They were marching up and down according to regulations
and presented arms to us. The gateway to the Nibelungs' Hoard was,
however, locked and barred, and Alberich, its keeper, disconcerted by
the visit at so late an hour of a representative of the armed forces,
declared simply that it was after business hours. Fortunately, however,
Herr von Glasenapp, the Vice-President, lived in the building. The
porter took me to him, and His Excellency at once realised that he must
help and was prepared to hand over the required gold.

The strong room, however, was shut, and could only be opened by putting
two keys in the lock together--two keys which were in different hands.
Geheimrat von Lumm had one of them, and the Chief of the Trésor the
other. It appeared that Geheimrat von Lumm lived on the Kaiserdamm and
the Chief of the Trésor in the Schönhauser Allee, at the other end of

A Reichsbank attendant was immediately put into a taxi and given strict
orders to bring the latter, dead or alive, with his key to the
Reichsbank, and as quickly as possible. I myself got into another taxi
and drove to the Kaiserdamm, to the house of Herr von Lumm. At my first
ring nobody answered. I rang again in desperation, and at last an old
housekeeper came shuffling to the door and said:

"Yes, yes, but it's so late! The Herr Geheimrat? The Herr Geheimrat is
out, of course."

"Where has he gone?"

"Oh, he never tells me. But I expect he's taking his evening drink now."

Undeterred by the housekeeper's ignorance, I seized upon a ludicrous
idea. I decided, quite simply, to put the police on the trail of the
Herr because, as I said to myself, if the police could manage to find a
man who had stolen silver spoons, then they would certainly know how to
lay hands on so well-known a person as Herr Lumm.

So I rushed back to Police Headquarters.

"Where is the office of the C.I.D.?"

The Commissioner on duty was quite excited by such a late visit from a
naval officer.

"Whom are we to arrest, Captain?"

"Geheimrat von Lumm of the Reichsbank."

"Whom did you say, Captain? Geheimrat von Lumm of the Reichsbank?"

"It's not quite as bad as you think, my dear Commissioner, but Herr
Lumm, who is very probably at this moment in some wine-restaurant in
Central Berlin, must be found before midnight, whatever happens, and
taken to the Reichsbank."

"Very well," said the Commissioner; "I'll send a few C.I.D. men out

There was no object in waiting at Police Headquarters till Herr Lumm was
found; so I drove back to the Admiralty and awaited events. At ten
o'clock at night I was rung up by the Commissioner on duty.

"The Herr von Lucian has just been found at Kempinski's and is being
delivered at the Reichsbank."

Now we could get to work. When I appeared at the Railways Department of
the Great General Staff on the Moltkestrasse and asked for a special
train to Constantinople, they showed blank amazement at my naive ideas
of railway management in war-time, but I harangued them for all I was
worth, and finally succeeded in convincing them that by the following
morning we must have a train to transport our millions in gold to
Constantinople. I could not get the through train to Constantinople that
I wanted, but they told me that the train could go as far as Bodenbach
on the Austrian frontier.

"Farther than Bodenbach we cannot guarantee, and the Austrians will have
to arrange for the rest of the journey."

The Austrian Embassy was opposite the General Staff building, and the
Counsellor, Count Hoyos, promised that the War Office in Vienna would
provide a train from Bodenbach through the Balkans to Constantinople.

"I must, however, point out," added Count Hoyos, "that there are
unlimited possibilities of trouble in connection with the transport of
gold right through the Balkans."

I had no time to think of all these possibilities; I had to return to
the Admiralty. The Reichsbank explained over the telephone that all was
going well; the officials were already assembled to count the gold, and
the boxes would be packed in an hour's time.

The young lady at the Admiralty telephone exchange then proceeded to
tumble a number of important gentlemen of the postal service out of
their beds, and was able to announce half an hour later that six big
postal vans would arrive at eight o'clock next morning in front of the

From now on the telephones worked incessantly. Telephone message from
the Reichsbank:

"The Admiralty must provide an escort for the gold through the streets
of Berlin!"

Telephone message from Police Headquarters:

"Our bicycle patrols will be before the Reichsbank at half-past seven."

Telephone message from the Railways Division of the General Staff:

"The train for Bodenbach will be waiting in the Anhalter Bahnhof at nine

Telephone message to the Deutsche Bank:

"The Admiralty would be obliged for the loan of an official familiar
with the conditions in the Balkans and in Turkey."

Telephone messages to the Turkish and Rumanian Legations for visas.

Telephone messages that the Bulgarian Minister, who also had to give a
visa, could not be found.

A call for help to the police!

"Herr Commissioner! You've done so splendidly in finding Geheimrat von
Lumm, will you be good enough now to find the Bulgarian Minister?"

The police found the Bulgarian Minister as well. He was much surprised
when he suddenly found detectives standing before him, being at the time
in pyjamas. The official, who had been impressed with the necessity of
bringing the Minister to the Legation as quickly as possible, helped him
into a dressing-gown, put him into a taxi, and took him home.

* * * * *

Having on previous occasions asked Dr. Helfferich the Director of the
Deutsche Bank, for his advice about monetary matters of a technical
nature, I now rang him up too. This transport of gold interested him
keenly, and he turned up early in the morning at the Admiralty to drive
with me to the Reichsbank. As we drew up we were filled with alarm. The
bank premises were surrounded with most suspicious-looking persons.
Slowly it dawned upon us that they were detectives in disguise doing
their job.

The boxes were lifted into the vans, and the column moved off. We drove
so slowly in front, that Helfferich remarked:

"We look just like a funeral procession."

The same afternoon at four o'clock I was rung up from Bodenbach by Dr.
Weigelt of the Deutsche Bank who had been lent to me by Helfferich to
take charge of the transport.

He explained that the train promised by the Austrians to make the
connection was not there, and that, as it was Sunday, he was unable to
dig out any officials of the Austrian military administration, but that
a solution had been found. The Austrian Automobile Corps had declared
its readiness to take the boxes to Vienna.

As there was nothing else to be done, I told Dr. Weigelt that I agreed
to this course, and that I should be able to arrange for a train from
Vienna onwards.

On Monday, the 17th of August, a gentleman from the Austrian Embassy
appeared at the Admiralty in a state of great excitement. He waved a
telegram from Vienna in his hand, reading as follows:

"We have just succeeded in making an arrest in Vienna which has
apparently frustrated enemy plans. A number of motor-cars have reached
Vienna, and the unusual conduct of their occupants awakened the
suspicions of the police. No time was lost, and the occupants of the
cars were arrested; in the cars were large boxes, one of which was
opened. It was filled to the top with gold, which is apparently
to-tended for Serbian propaganda in Austrian territory. The astonishing
thing is that the gold is in German currency. On examination, the
arrested men gave contradictory explanations, so that it is quite
evident that it is an affair of Serbian agents, who, strange to say, are
provided with German passports. They are all held in prison for inquiry
and await sentence."

When I had read the telegram, the gentleman from the Austrian Embassy
was astounded to see me start foaming at the mouth. Then I began to
laugh, and rushed to the telephone.

In the afternoon the Austrian Embassy telephoned:

"Your consignment of gold has been dispatched by special express train
to Budapest. With regard to the mistaken arrest of your men in charge,
we ask a thousand pardons for the misunderstanding that has arisen."

By Saturday, August the 22nd, a telegram from Constantinople lay on my

"Gold consignment just arrived safely. Will be handed over to
Mediterranean Squadron to-day."

* * * * *

In the meantime Admiral Souchon's appeal for help had gradually worked
its way through official channels. By this path it eventually reached
the appropriate department in the course of the week. On Thursday,
August the 10th, Corvette-Captain Oldekop stepped into my office.

"I say--we have just received a wire from Admiral Souchon. He seems to
want a few millions in gold. Can one do that sort of thing? Who could
put it through?"

"It was sent off from the Anhalter Bahnhof last Sunday morning, sir, and
we have just been informed that it has already crossed the
Rumanian-Bulgarian frontier."

"Oh, really? Thanks most awfully!"

* * * * *

The consignment of gold had safely reached Constantinople and the
enemy's hunt for Admiral Souchon's squadron had ended unsuccessfully.

* * * * *

When war broke out, German cruisers were scattered all over the world,
and the news of mobilisation reached them in the most unlikely places.
The most important unit, apart from the Mediterranean Squadron, was the
Cruiser Squadron in the Far East, consisting of the _Scharnhorst_ and
the _Gneisenau,_ accompanied by the four light cruisers _Leipzig,
Dresden, Nurnberg,_ and _Emden._ Even the Admiralty in Berlin was
uncertain where Count Spee was with his squadron at the outbreak of war.
He had last been heard of in Tsingtao.

Naturally Count Spee was not unaware of the storm brewing over Europe
while he cruised in distant seas. His wireless officers intercepted the
messages of cruisers which were soon to become hostile, and Admiral Spee
was quite conscious of the fact that the movements of his squadron were
being followed with particular interest by the Admiralties in London,
Paris, and St. Petersburg. When hostilities began, he succeeded for a
long time in concealing his aims and intentions, and in harassing the
Allies and their Admiralties with the weapon they had most to

The German Admiralty, whose duty it was to work out the general lines of
active naval operations, and to transmit instructions to the squadron
and individual commanders, was compelled by the suddenness of the
conflict and the precipitate course of events to give _carte blanche_ to
all cruisers in foreign waters, wherever they might be. They were left
to make their own plans, since they were completely isolated from
headquarters. In some cases it was impossible even to instruct the
cruisers to act independently, as some of those warships, sailing alone,
had been veiling their movements for some days.

Count Spee still possessed one line of communication with Berlin
--through the Naval Attaché in Tokio, Captain von Knorr. Some days
before the outbreak of war, when hostilities appeared to be imminent,
the latter cabled that it was essential to send two million yen to
Admiral Spee immediately, so that his movements should not be
restricted. This money had to be sent to Tokio by the quickest possible
route, for if it did not arrive soon the squadron would have to allow
itself to be interned, as it could only pay its way in foreign harbours
in a wartime with cash. The telegram which Captain von Knorr sent to
Berlin arrived by the usual route, via New York and London. I was
ordered, on August the 2nd, to arrange that Count Spee should receive
his money as soon as possible, and I cabled to New York giving
instructions that a German bank in that city should wire two million yen
to Captain von Knorr in Tokio.

It would be more correct to say: "I tried to give instructions," for my
telegram was returned to the Admiralty from the telegraph office in
Berlin. It could not be dispatched, for the cable station at Emden
reported a "breakdown." Inquiries had been made in London whether there
was a breakdown on that side too, but London, for some unknown reason,
had not yet replied.

At first there was no explanation of the breakdown. The German cable to
New York ran from Emden to America along the bottom of the ocean, and it
had never yet failed. The apparatus in Emden showed, however, that there
was something wrong with the line, for telegram after telegram had been
sent to America, but in no case had the official signal from the other
end been received. The telegraph authorities in Emden assumed that they
would soon hear from New York again, so we had to wait; but after
forty-eight hours of waiting, with the cable still not functioning, we
did not know what to do, since as yet there was no wireless
communication between the two countries. The American station in
Sayville, near New York, was not yet completed, and it was only in
midwinter, 1914, that we were able to send wireless messages from Berlin
to America.

I thought out a subtle way that might still be available, namely, to try
to get into communication with the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank, which had
branches in the most important ports of the Far East. Since the cable no
longer functioned, we could not reach this bank by wire either. What we
did was this: we paid in the required sum of money at a Danish bank,
which instructed its branch in Tokio, by means of a carefully composed
and apparently quite harmless business telegram, to provide itself with
the necessary funds and place them at the disposal of the
Deutsch-Asiatische Bank in Tokio. In a further telegram, which we
likewise set up very carefully, we directed the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank
to pay the money to our Naval Attaché in Tokio. Both the telegrams went
first of all to St. Petersburg, though Russia was already at war with
Germany. The unsuspecting officials in St. Petersburg transmitted the
telegrams to Vladivostok, whence they reached Tokio, and so Admiral Spee
received his two million yen.

Meanwhile, however, it was essential to send further consignments of
money abroad, and the German cable to America was still not working.
Suddenly we received a report from London which enlightened us as to why
we could no longer wire to America. This report, which came to us from a
confidential quarter in the British capital, contained astounding
information. During the first days of August an unpretentious flotilla
of fishing-boats had sailed from the Thames in the direction of
Emden-Borkum and the Dutch islands in the vicinity. They were manned
chiefly by experts from the department of cables and telegraphs. Under
the cover of night and fog this flotilla took up the German deep-sea
cables, and joined them up with their own lines in London. Instead of
going to New York the telegrams we sent from Emden went to London. This
was the "breakdown" that Emden had reported!

After the successful dispatch of the two million yen to Count Spee, it
was my duty to provide and transmit the money required by our other
cruisers in foreign waters. At first I met with grotesque difficulties
in Berlin, owing to the fact that the authorities obstinately insisted
on everything being done in the regulation way. The official procedure
was as follows: A formal request had to be made to the Treasury, this
request itself also having to go through "official channels"; the
Treasury had to approve the request according to its own system of
minuting and to issue instructions, through "official channels," to the
department involved, and this department had then to make the requisite
sum available at the Reichsbank, which again had to be officially
instructed. The money could then be drawn by one of the big banks and
the payment transferred to the payee.

No-one knew exactly where our cruisers were, and since it was impossible
to foresee whereabouts in the world they might suddenly appear and
demand money, I had to have money available as soon as possible at every
single large port in every neutral country. Both official and unofficial
quarters had, it is strange to say, to be "convinced" first of all that
Germany was at war and that "official channels" must be short-circuited.

At last I managed with great trouble to deposit stocks of foreign
currency for our cruisers throughout the whole world, from New York to
New Orleans, from Venezuela to Uruguay, from Tierra del Fuego to
Seattle, along the whole west coast of South, Central, and North
America. I transmitted very large sums to confidential agents in these
ports, who had been appointed in peace-time. In the middle of it a very
inconvenient incident occurred. A Berlin bank was instructed by us to
send half a million dollars to our agent in New York for the purpose of
chartering a collier. The honest bank official who had to carry out the
instruction innocently took up his pen and, as though we were still at
peace, wrote in the letter which was sent to New York:

"On the instruction and for the account of the Imperial German Navy we
transmit to you herewith five hundred thousand dollars."

When I received a copy of this document next day I nearly fainted. Our
agent in New York was, of course, compromised.

* * * * *

The next event to rejoice our hearts was the fall of Antwerp, where, for
the first time in war, the Zeppelins had given a good account of
themselves. In consequence, there arose a strong movement in favour of
using them for raids over enemy territory.

One morning I received a welcome visit from my old friend,
Kapitän-Leutnant Ostermann, who had lived for many years in London and
had succeeded in slipping through the nets which the British Naval
Intelligence Department had spread the moment war was declared. Both he
and I knew every hole and corner of that great city, and in consequence
we were given the task of surveying such centres as London and
Liverpool, with a view to drafting plans, based on photographic
enlargements, for effective raids by Zeppelins.

Being, like everyone else at that time, totally unfamiliar with the
military possibilities of this new weapon, we laboured under the
delusion that bombs could be dropped from the air with practically the
same accuracy as shells could be fired from howitzers! Large-scale maps
were printed for us in the Admiralty's own presses, and our immediate
business was to mark on them with large red circles the so-called
"vulnerable spots." To our astonishment, however, we learned at a
conference held in the presence of Captain Strasser, the commander of
the Zeppelins, that no guarantee whatsoever could be given as to where
projectiles launched from airships might land.

Bluntly we were told that the bombs, if dropped, could only be dropped
haphazard. Ostermann and I thereupon sent in a report stating that, in
our firm opinion, the change in England's supposed temper which such a
policy would bring about, would far outweigh any success of purely
military value.

Neither Ostermann nor myself was summoned to any further conferences on
this subject. Yet, when a final consent to this questionable policy had
been wrung from the Kaiser, he accompanied his Order with an autograph
Minute to the effect that, in all circumstances, Buckingham Palace must
be spared. Reading this, and remembering Captain Strasser's views on
accuracy in bombing, I realized what a responsibility had been laid on
the Zeppelin commanders.

* * * * *

About this period an unenviable task was laid upon all the officers of
the various Headquarter Staffs in Berlin. They were instructed to
counteract, wherever they could and in every possible way, the
impressions that were being produced by the first great setback on the
Western Front, the Battle of the Marne. To us in the Admiralty, out of
touch with those responsible for the conduct of the war on land, it was
far from clear that this serious reverse was, in fact, the turning point
of the whole War. Yet, from neutral countries, despite the closely
watched frontiers, kept coming the most disquieting reports, whose evil
effects it became our duty to minimise as far as we were able.

Chance lightened our labours. The tremendous victory of Tannenberg, the
triumph of Hindenburg, Ludendorff and Hoffmann, came as if in answer to
our prayers; and in the jubilation which it called forth, the disaster
on the Marne lost its depressing grip upon all but the handful of those
"in the know." Just as the Allied peoples knew neither the significance,
nor perhaps even the name, of Tannenberg until victory was assured, so
the meaning of the Marne was kept hidden from the masses in Germany
until long after all was lost.

* * * * *

From Berlin we followed the movements of our cruisers, especially of
Admiral Spee, with the greatest suspense. Our hearts beat quickly when
he destroyed a British squadron off Coronel We did not know whither he
would turn after this battle. We received the news that he had put into
harbour at Valparaiso and assumed that he would stay there for some
time, to chase English merchantmen along the South American coast, but
we were amazed to hear that he had left Valparaiso again at full speed.

The unexpected news of the battle of the Falkland Islands threw us into
deep depression. We heard that Count Spee's squadron had been destroyed
and that his proud ships lay at the bottom of the ocean. They had run
straight into a superior British squadron. Deeply moved and saddened, we
sat in our rooms and wondered what on earth could have induced Count
Spee to steam round Cape Horn towards the Falkland Islands, but we could
find no explanation. We could not imagine why such a prudent and
cautious admiral should have attempted to attack the Falkland Islands
when he must almost certainly have known that this might attract
superior enemy forces. It was a mystery to us!

Not so very long afterwards I was unlucky enough to have dealings with
the man "behind it."

* * * * *

In the midst of this depression we were involved in other anxieties. A
Naval Corps was organised for Service in Flanders, and we were faced
with a situation, which we found at first difficult to believe, that
arms were not available in sufficient quantity for the new troops. We
had already learned, after the first weeks of the War, that every branch
of the Army was beginning to lack the most essential munitions.

When the Naval Corps was in being, and somehow had to be supplied with
arms, the situation suddenly came home to us. We received orders to
provide the Corps with machine-guns, and we were told that it did not
matter how we got them or where we got them from--that we had to procure
them even if we had to fetch them from the moon. A few hours'
telephoning to the remotest corners of Germany convinced us that there
was no possible way of obtaining machine-guns at home. We commissioned
confidential agents in the neutral countries to find out where
machine-guns could be bought, and soon received the news that there were
three hundred weapons of the most modern construction in a shed in
Copenhagen, but that they had already been sold to Russia and were to be
shipped in the next few days.

We got busy on the telephone. We spoke to Copenhagen, and a little later
the German Minister in that city called upon M. Scavenius, the Danish
Foreign Minister, pointed out that Denmark was a neutral Power, and
protested against the shipping of the machine-guns. The protest was
successful, and the firm which had manufactured the weapons was
forbidden to export them. As the Russians had long since paid for them,
the Danish firm was not much affected. The machine-guns remained in
their warehouse in the port of Copenhagen, and repeated attempts to load
them secretly on a Russian steamer were frustrated by our own agents.

The German and Austrian Legations had posted "guards" round the shed,
and every time an attempt was made to get the precious guns on to a
ship, one of the Ministers addressed a flaming protest to the Danish
Foreign Office.

We now made an attempt to transfer the weapons to our own possession. We
came to an agreement with the firm which had already sold them to the
Russians but had no objection to selling them again to us. When,
however, we prepared to load them on to a German ship the Russian and
French Legations came into action, and we in turn were prohibited from
taking the guns on board.

This little game went on for some time. The agents of the Allies kept an
eye on our people, and our agents kept an eye on them.

While we were unable to obtain arms and munitions on a large scale from
any neutral country, the Allies could buy from the whole world; so we
had to direct all our thoughts to procuring by stealth the small
quantities which were still available in Europe. We were therefore
determined that these three hundred machine-guns must belong to us, and
I was ordered to "fetch them."

I began my scheme, which I had carefully worked out, by providing myself
with a British passport. We had a large quantity of these, taken from
Englishmen who at the outbreak of war had decided, on their own
authority, to transform themselves into Americans and try in that way to
pass the German frontiers. I put one of these passports in my pocket,
stuck a number of English hotel labels on my suit-case, prepared a
handsome packet of English business correspondence, and started on the
journey. My name was Mr. William Johnson, I came from London, and was a
typical English business man. A few fellow-travellers noticed, though,
that I had no difficulty in passing the German guards at the frontier in

Upon reaching Copenhagen I took a room at the Hôtel d'Angleterre. This
hotel was the headquarters in Denmark of all the agents of the Allies,
and the lobby swarmed with them. I had not come to Copenhagen alone, but
was accompanied by a man who knew the capital well, having carried on a
business there for some years before the War. He had the advantage of me
in speaking Danish, and his job was to assist me with his advice and
active co-operation. We sat peacefully in the bar of the hotel or drank
coffee in the restaurant, but every once in a while someone came
sniffing round us.

After a couple of days, however, we succeeded in becoming rather
friendly with some Russian agents, and one evening I startled these
gentlemen by telling them that I was a British agent, was furnished with
plenty of funds, and that I had instructions to aid them in conveying
the machine-guns to the Russian Army. The agents thought that this was
_awfully_ decent of me. But a few days later a Russian vessel steamed
into the harbour. It had originally been a Swedish boat, but we had
purchased it and disguised it skilfully as Russian. On its arrival I
summoned the Russian agents. I told them that the German and Austrian
agents were bribed by me with large sums, that a Russian boat lay in the
harbour under orders to receive the machine-guns, and that the shipment
was to take place on January 27th. I informed them that this day had
been chosen because it was the Kaiser's birthday, when the German agents
would consider it a matter of honour to get completely drunk. Our
agents, of course, had been told to stay away on that day, as the plan
was that the Russians should help to transfer the machine-guns to the
alleged Russian ship. This scheme had the advantage that the Russians
were paying for weapons which we intended for use on the Western Front.

Everything was working smoothly, and merely for the final arrangements
my companion and I had a meeting with the Russian agents in my room at
the hotel. The Russians had already wired to their War Office that the
machine-guns were at last about to be shipped to Russia, and we sat and
drank coffee varied with numerous liqueurs. The waiter listened to
everything we said, but that did not matter, since he was a French
agent, and our conversation could only meet with his approval.

When the Russians had had rather a lot to drink--we had to keep up with
them, of course--something dreadful happened. My friend the merchant,
who had came with me to Copenhagen, and who was a lance-corporal in the
Prussian Reserve, must have had a little too much to drink and so lost
his presence of mind. He suddenly made to me--to Mr. William Johnson--a
respectful bow, clicked his heels together, and said in the purest

_"Darf ich Herrn Kapitänleutnant eine Zigarre anbieten?"_

The Russian agents were not so drunk that they did not immediately
realise what a trap they had fallen into. They started up from their
chairs but I did not enter into tedious explanations. I found some sort
of apology, let the agents say and think what they liked, and returned
to Berlin.

The scheme so carefully thought out had come to grief, but we found it
too good to drop altogether, so shortly afterwards I was ordered back to
Denmark. I avoided this time the Hôtel d'Angleterre, lodged in a remote
corner of Copenhagen, and approached the French agents, who fell into
the trap originally laid for the Russians. One day, when the German
agents did not turn up because they had apparently been bribed by me,
the Frenchmen put the machine-guns on the "Russian" steamer, which,
however, still belonged to us. When it reached its destination the
platoon of marines, which had remained hidden on board throughout the
voyage, felt disappointed. The vessel might easily have been challenged
by a British destroyer or submarine then in the Baltic, and a
boarding-party might have expressed doubts concerning her nationality
and her precious cargo. It would then have been the duty of the platoon
of marines to disperse these doubts.

* * * * *

I returned to my daily routine at the Admiralty Stall. There was nothing
exciting, no work to lift me out of the rut of my duties, and I came to
realise more clearly with what embittered tenacity a war was being waged
far away from the field of battle, a struggle between the Naval War
Staff and General Headquarters.

On the side of the Naval War Staff Tirpitz fought, with a doggedness
which can hardly be described, for the employment of submarines for the
inauguration of intensified U-boat warfare. On the other side, the
Chancellor, Herr von Bethmann Hollweg, was ranged with General
Headquarters in opposition to this plan. Bethmann Hollweg had the ear of
the Kaiser, which gave him the opportunity, of which he made full use,
of preventing the Naval War Staff from having its way. Bethmann Hollweg
took the standpoint that the "confounded Navy," as he called it, was out
to ruin his policy towards England.

We in the Service were often told at the time that the Chancellor was
firmly convinced that England's share in the War was only to be a
"skirmish," which diplomatic cleverness would soon bring to a "nice,
peaceful" end. He fought desperately, therefore, against the plan of
Grand-Admiral von Tirpitz for the building of submarines and still more
submarines, and offered a passive resistance which was not easily
overcome. When, however, Great Britain began, by word and deed, to show
herself increasingly hostile; when the scale and the scope of
Kitchener's plans for mobilisation became known to the Central Powers,
and the London Treaty, binding the Allied Powers to conclude no separate
peace with an enemy government, was signed--then the most optimistic of
diplomats could no longer ignore the reality of England's participation
in the War, nor doubt that England "meant to see this thing through."
Borne down by the march of events, Bethmann threw in his hand and

_"Nun ist meine ganze England-Politik zusammengebrochen!_" _[Footnote:_
"There goes my whole English policy!"_]_

At this time I received orders to go from Berlin to Wilhelmshaven and
communicate to the High Seas Fleet the arrangements for the active
carrying out of the U-boat campaign. At the same time, incidentally, was
issued the famous order to the Battle Fleet to operate with increasing
activity in the North Sea, but to avoid, as far as possible, contact
with the enemy!

No-one was aware that in a few days submarine warfare was to begin in an
extreme form. The German public had not the slightest suspicion of what
was afoot, and confidential warnings had only been given, in the
greatest secrecy, to the official representatives of certain neutral

At noon one day the Admiralty was startled by a piece of news which
exploded like a bomb. It was reported that the _B. Z. am Mittag (Berlin
Mid-day Journal)_ had printed on its front page in large type an
announcement of the impending submarine campaign. How did it happen, we
asked? How did this decision, which had been "kept" a strict secret,
reach the _B. Z. am Mittag?_ It had certainly not been communicated to
the Press, and so inquiries were made as to how the information had
found its way to that newspaper, and they resulted in the discovery of
the following astonishing facts:

Grand-Admiral von Tirpitz had been asked for an interview by the
representative of the American Hearst Press in Berlin, Mr. Wigan. He had
had a long conversation with this journalist, and had revealed to him
the fact, hitherto guarded with such rigorous secrecy, that the German
Government had formally and irrevocably decided on the employment of
submarine warfare. Mr. Wiegand rushed at once to the telephone and
cabled the sensational news to America, where it was published, and put
the whole world in a state of excitement.

It happened that the New York correspondent of the _B. Z. am Mittag_
read this news one morning on the first page of the Hearst paper, the
_New York American._ From the wording of the announcement it could be
inferred that it had not yet been given out officially to the German
papers; an the _B. Z. am Mittag's_ representative naturally went and
cabled the New York paper's news, word for word, to his newspaper in

It was then apparent what had moved the Grand-Admiral to commit such an
"indiscretion." Tirpitz did not believe that the Government would
"stick" to its decision to begin submarine warfare. He, however, was
convinced that it was essential in view of the whole war position, and
he wanted to force Bethmann Hollweg to carry out the decision which had
been wrung from him. In giving the news to the American journalist he
knew that it would be blazoned forth to all the world, and he was
convinced that it would be impossible for Germany to go back without
being accused of weakness, which would mean a perceptible loss of

Now that the intention was known, the coming submarine campaign was
being discussed by the whole world. The Naval Attachés of the foreign
Powers came to the Admiralty to ascertain how it would be managed in
detail. And, of course, the American Naval Attaché, Captain Gherardi,
came too. He was affable and condescending, and talked about the
"dangerous situation" like an indulgent father to an unruly child. At
the end of big talk he did not omit to invite me to dinner the following
night. I was not altogether comfortable about this invitation. I
informed my superior officer, therefore, and asked whether I ought to
accept. I was told that I must, of course, go, but that I should listen
carefully to the grumblings of the ill-humoured American.

When I went to Gherardi's house the following night I was received with
accustomed kindness. His wife talked about a Red Cross Dinner, but he
himself was rather embarrassed in his demeanour, and we conversed at
table about unimportant matters. I made a great effort to keep an
interesting flow of talk going, but all the time he was muttering
something incomprehensible, and for some obscure reason was even more
out of sorts than usual. So I thought we might introduce more dangerous
matters into the conversation, and I asked him straight out what the
American Navy was saying about the proclamation of submarine warfare.

Gherardi lifted his moody countenance, raised his eyebrows, wrinkled his
forehead in astonishment, leaned back in his chair, and said:

"Submarine warfare? Submarine warfare? What do you mean? There isn't
going to be any warfare! Nothing will come of it! Our Ambassador has
already been so informed by the Imperial Chancellor. He has been
officially notified that the order for the commencement of submarine
hostilities has been revoked."

Then he became red in the face and boiled over:

"You are congratulating yourselves a bit too soon! We won't put up with
anything from Germany."

I found it difficult to master my excitement. I am certain that I talked
at random for the rest of the evening, and I was glad when a chance came
to say farewell. Outside in the street the pure night air cooled my
head, and I thought things over.

When I had left the Admiralty that evening the final orders for
submarine hostilities had gone out, and the U-boats must by now be on
the high seas. At that time submarines carried no wireless receiving
apparatus. They had, however, received the clear and unequivocal order
to attack the cargo-boats of all nations which were on the way to enemy
countries, and no-one could bring them back. Perhaps at this very moment
the first torpedo was being launched, possibly sending to the bottom an
American steamer--a few hours after the German Chancellor had told the
American Ambassador that no such thing was going to happen.

I stopped a taxi and drove to the Admiralty.

Some senior officers were still at work in the building. I met two
chiefs of departments in their rooms, and informed them of what I had
just heard. Both stared at me in amazement. They could not believe what
I told them and one of them said:

"You must have misheard!"

"No, certainly not, sir! Gherardi expressed himself in the exact words
that I have just used."

The two captains grew agitated. They pointed out that as the submarines
were already at sea it was extremely probable that the news of the
torpedoing of an American steamer might come in at any moment.

It would have been the simplest and most proper thing to do, so far as
it was possible to judge, to ring up the Chancellor the same night in
order to ask him the truth about the matter. At that late hour, however,
it was out of the question. Besides, the jealousy of the individual
Services, the constant intrigues, conflicts, moves and counter-moves,
rife even in the highest places of the Empire, ruled out such a simple

I had then, on the Kaiser's birthday, just been promoted
lieutenant-commander. I was a small pawn in this fantastic game which
those who controlled German, politics were playing with one another. But
I was full of fight; and as I was walking home that night I decided that
I would venture a move on this dangerous chessboard. I knew a large
number of people who were mixed up in the game as a matter of routine,
and I began in the morning to ring them up, one after the other.

I first telephoned to Count Westarp and to Erzberger, both members of
the Reichstag. Half an hour later they were sitting on the red plush
sofa in my office at the Admiralty.

It was a Sunday morning.

"Bethmann is becoming impossible," Count Westarp said. "I will see if I
can collect a few more members, then we'll go and ask him what this is
all about." Erzberger broke in indignantly:

"I can tell you! _Eine Mords-Schweinerei!"_

When they had gone I rang up Walter Rathenau, who was just beginning to
organise the War Materials Department, and Dr. Salomonsohn of the
Disconto-Gesellschaft. Both declared that they would go immediately to
the Chancellor and ask him what had really happened. I then got hold of
Helfferich, who also said he would call on the Chancellor. Next I
hurried to the Reichstag, where I had a talk with Herr Südekum, the
Social Democrat member. He was one of the few "field greys" among the
members, and was in uniform, with the short bayonet of a
non-commissioned officer at his side. He opened his eyes wide when he
heard what I had to tell him, and despairingly said, as a "trooper"

"'rin in die Kartoffeln, raus aus die Kartoffeln!" ("Heavens! Another

Things now began to develop as I wanted them to. Each of the members of
the Reichstag, everybody to whom I had given the information, promptly
went to Bethmann. But what happened was astounding. The Chancellor told
everybody most emphatically that he was unaware of any statement having
been made to the American Embassy that the U-boat campaign had been

Late that evening I was rung up by Count Westarp. "Listen! There's
something wrong. Are you sure your information is right? Bethmann denies
everything, and complains that more than a dozen politicians have called
upon him during the afternoon to ask him the same question. Mum's the
word! But if it should be discovered that it was you who started the
'run,' I'm afraid, my dear Captain, that you must be prepared for

I did not get much sleep that night. I was not worried about myself,
though I felt my head in the noose, but because everything was so
unfathomably mysterious. Next day my fears were realised. Somebody had
told the Chancellor that I, Captain Rintelen, had started a rumour to
the effect that he, Bethmann, had informed the American Ambassador that
the U-boat campaign would be called off.

That afternoon I had to report to my Admiral, who reprimanded me
officially at the instance of the Chancellor, and was given the most
unusual order to call at the Imperial Chancery during the evening in
order to vindicate myself. When I arrived at the Wilhelmstrasse I was
shown in to Herr Wahnschaffe, the Under-secretary of State. I told him
that I was still definitely of the opinion that I had _not_
misunderstood Gherardi. Wahnschaffe grew annoyed; but Herr Rizler,
Bethmann's secretary, joined us, and he also declared that no such
communication had been made, either verbally or in writing, to the
American Ambassador. I was completely dumbfounded, and asked myself if I
were going mad. But whom should I meet the very next day on the steps of
the Admiralty, but Wahnschaffe! He returned my greeting in a somewhat
embarrassed manner. An hour later I was called to my Chief's room.

"Please take note that the copy of the Chancellor's letter to the
American Ambassador has been found in the Chancery."

There ensued terrific confusion, for the Admiralty was now in possession
of the official communication that the Americans had been informed of
the countermanding of the U-boat campaign. The Government had even made
this statement in writing to the American Ambassador. On the other hand,
we were faced by the fact that the U-boats had for some time been at sea
and that no power in the world could prevent them from torpedoing
American ships.

A few days later a message arrived. An American freighter had been sunk,
and we were powerless to prevent a repetition!

From the strategic point of view as well, what now ensued was
calamitous. The U-boats which had already left remained without support,
had no parent ships to return to, were completely isolated and exposed
to every danger.

Some time later we learned how Bethmann had come to write his letter to
the American Ambassador. After Mr. Gerard had had a stormy interview
with the Chancellor, representing to him that America simply would not
tolerate it, Bethmann went to the Kaiser, who immediately, without
wasting much thought on the matter, changed the decision which had
already been taken. Yet nobody had possessed the "courage" to inform the
naval authorities of this complete change of policy!

The situation had swiftly come to a head. The American Ambassador, of
course, also had heard that an American freighter had been torpedoed, in
spite of the declaration that he had received in writing from the German
Government. He inwardly foamed with rage, but outwardly remained
impassive. He deduced from the whole incident that it would be practical
policy never to believe anything that the German Government told him,
even when he had it formally in writing!

About this time it was that everybody in Germany was raging. Large
packets of newspapers had been received from America, and there was not
a word of truth in the reports that were being made about the military
situation. We were particularly indignant at the numerous stories of
"atrocities" which had found their way into the American papers. With
this kind of journalism it was inevitable that not only the mass of
newspaper readers, but gradually also official circles in America, would
assume an anti-German attitude. The accounts in the American Press
describing conditions in Germany were equally disgraceful. Unimportant
successes on the part of the Allied armies were inflated in the American
papers to the significance of outstanding victories, while news of
German victories was not printed at all. The Americans were being given
a completely false picture of the real situation in Europe.

Since the beginning of the War attempts had been made by Germany to
influence the international Press, or rather to supply it with correct
information. The German military authorities in charge of this matter,
especially the Intelligence Department of the Supreme Army Command, were
learning all too slowly how to win the confidence of the editors of the
great German newspapers; so how was it possible for them to influence
foreign journalists? Some more experienced officers at the Admiralty
tried to repair much of the damage and to put things right, and the
American correspondents in Germany soon got into the habit of obtaining
their information from them. I too was frequently the centre of a whole
group of foreign journalists.

Eventually we succeeded in making it clear to them that the military
situation was not unfavourable for Germany at all. When they were
finally convinced of this they were honest enough to cable impartial
reports to their papers in America. But no sooner had these articles
appeared than our rooms were veritably stormed by the foreign
correspondents, who protested that the British were no longer
transmitting their wires. The British controlled the international
cables, and were naturally exercising a strict censorship in their own

An idea occurred to me, and I must confess that I was unscrupulous
enough to exploit it. I was on good terms with Major Langhorne, the
American Military Attaché in Berlin, who too had his difficulties owing
to the English control of the foreign cables. He was in search of a way
to send his telegrams to Washington without London reading or
intercepting them. They were, of course, in code, but the Attaché had no
illusions about England's practices in this connection. He was
positively convinced that the British would succeed in deciphering his
code. So I proposed to him that he should give us the code telegrams and
that we should have them sent via Nauen to the American wireless
station, which had just been completed. In this way they would speedily
reach his Government at Washington. The Yankee was startled for a
moment, but then accepted my offer with gratitude, although he insisted
that his telegrams should be in code.

He arrived with his first telegrams, which were sent off immediately via
Nauen. I had copies made of them and called on a celebrated cipher
expert, who shut himself up with the texts, and the Fates were
favourable to us. It was to be presumed that the American Attaché had
included in one of the telegrams, which was very long, an extensive
official report from German G.H.Q., and this conjecture turned out to be
correct. The expert substituted the German text for the code letters and
figures, and everything fitted in.

We were now in possession of the Attaché's code, and preserved it as
though it were sacred. From now on we were "reading in" Langhorne's
telegrams. When we gained those great victories against Russia I cabled
"my own text" to America. I re-wrote Major Langhorne's telegrams so that
they gave a clear account of our military position, and added the whole
extent of the enemy defeats in such a way, of course, that the American
Government was bound to believe that these telegrams came from its own
Military Attaché.

Things went on well for weeks. When the next batch of American
newspapers arrived a certain change of view was already noticeable in
the more serious journals. Germany's strategic position was regarded and
criticised more favourably, and I rejoiced at this success. Suddenly,
however, I myself smashed my instrument of propaganda. I overdid matters
by sending a telegram which allowed a certain pro-German attitude to be
apparent between the lines, and the end came soon. Without warning and
without reason Major Langhorne received laconic instructions from
Washington to return to America.

His successor did not hand me any telegrams for transmission. He
exercised great caution, for when Major Langhorne was shown his
telegrams on his arrival in Washington he of course immediately denied
that he had ever sent them, and little acumen was required to realise
from whom they had come.

I was pricked by conscience at the way in which I had acted, but I
consoled myself with the thought that Germany was facing a world in
arms, a vastly superior force, which would perhaps crush her if she did
not use every means in her power to defend herself.

Every means in her power!

* * * * *

At the beginning of 1915 the German armies, after the great battles of
the previous year, were waiting to hurl themselves once more against the
enemy. They were still faced by the same opponents and the same forces.
The German Supreme Army Command knew approximately the number of troops
they were able to send against the enemy on the Western and Eastern
Fronts, and the generals in both camps began to prepare their great
moves on the chessboard of war.

At this time there emerged a new foe, raining destruction upon the
German troops both in the East and in the West. It was spreading
disaster everywhere, and that so terribly that the Supreme Army Command,
then in Charleville, wired to the Government in Berlin:

"We are at our wits' end to defend ourselves against American

So this was the new and dreadful enemy: American ammunition!

It was all the more to be feared, since it was being manufactured in a
way that was, at the beginning of 1915, still unfamiliar to the munition
factories of Europe. The American shells, which were suddenly being
hurled in great quantities against the German trenches by French,
British, and Russian guns, were not made of cast-iron like the European
shells, but of steel. These steel casings were a diabolical invention:
they were ribbed and grooved, and when the shell exploded the casing
burst into thousands of small pieces and came down with terrific force
upon its victim. Its explosive effect was tremendous. At the time that
these shells first appeared the German Army was suffering from a very
serious lack of munitions. The batteries of field artillery in the West
were hardly able to get the range of important enemy positions, since
they had to economise their shells for emergencies. At the beginning of
1915 there was hardly sufficient ammunition available to keep down enemy
battery positions which had at last been discovered. Even shooting at
targets whose range was known must only be undertaken on special orders
from Corps Headquarters. In the case of attacks which took the infantry
forward, artillery preparations could not be anything but scanty.

The German munition factories, in spite of enormous efforts, were far
from being in a position to supply even approximately the quantity of
shells required by the Army.

The French, English, and Russian factories were in exactly the same
position and were unable to turn out an adequate supply of ammunition.
The factories in the whole of Europe could not produce as many of these
death-dealing missiles as were needed in this war.

Then America appeared on the scene. There existed at this time in the
United States half a dozen large powder and explosive factories. There
were also numerous great industrial undertakings which had hitherto
manufactured cast steel for the needs of a peaceful world. They were now
ready to adapt their machinery to the production of war-materials, thus
yielding many times the ordinary profits for their directors and
shareholders. There was no law in America forbidding the manufacture of
munitions by these firms, and no law to prohibit their shipment.
British, French, and Russian agents had, as early as 1914, entered into
negotiations with American concerns. There were at first doubts and
difficulties, but these were soon removed by the cheques of the
prospective customers. Money appeared upon the scene of war and began to
exercise its decisive influence.

The American industrialists who were prepared to adapt their works made
it quite clear to the European agents that they would have to invest
vast additional capital if they were suddenly to start manufacturing a
different class of goods. It would be necessary to install new
machinery, to make experiments. When the industrialists approached the
banks, after conversations with the Allied agents, and requested credits
for the purpose of adapting their works, they met with very little
sympathy. Their offers of high interest rates were of no avail, for the
banks realised that the manufacture of munitions involved considerable
danger, and, in addition, the bankers drew the attention of the
industrialists to a factor which made it impossible for American banks
to employ to advantage their capital in this way.

This factor was American public opinion, which was opposed to the
European War. At this stage of the conflict the citizens of America were
convinced that their Government could not do better than keep as far
away as possible from the military events in Europe. They took the
standpoint that the warring countries would some time, perhaps very
soon, have to lay down their arms, and when this juncture should arrive
they were anxious to resume their ordinary profitable commercial
transactions with all Europe. If America should now intervene in any
way, it might eventually come to pass that Germany, for example, would
boycott American goods when peace were declared if American favour had
been shown to the Allies only.

These considerations were further influenced by the fact that it was
still impossible to prophesy which side would come out victorious; and
even then there existed in America organisations which were very
influential and neglected no opportunity of representing to the
Government that it must avoid doing anything which one of the European
Powers might be able to regard as an unfriendly act.

These were the factors which induced the American banks to refuse
credits to the factories which wanted to produce munitions. The cheques
of the European agents first exerted their influence among smaller
manufacturers, who began to install lathes for the making of shells. The
Allies, however, realised that ultimate victory could only be assured if
American shells were shipped to Europe in vast quantities. But the
American banks still declined to furnish the money for the turning of
large factories into munition-works, because they were afraid that the
Government, urged by popular opinion, might one day prohibit the export
of arms and ammunition, so that they might risk the capital invested.

Now the Allied agents took a step which abolished at one blow the
hesitation of the bankers. They drafted contracts which led to the
immediate production of vast quantities of munitions. In these contracts
they undertook to receive at the factories any quantity that might be
manufactured, and to pay for it on the spot. They took over the whole
risk of transport as well as the risk that the munitions might not
become available at all for the Allied armies by the prohibition of
their export. They deposited at the banks letters of credit for large
sums, and the bankers now had no reason to refrain any longer from
manufacturing munitions. Soon both large and small banks were treading
on each other's heels in their anxiety to advance money on Allied
contracts, and a munition industry was in being which had veritably shot
up overnight. Enormous profits could be earned without any risk
whatever, and American industry did not hesitate. Steel was turned into
shells and nose-caps, the railways carried explosives from the powder
factories to the new munition-works, and the Dollar began to flow. Ships
sailed from European ports for America, after having been swiftly
adapted to the transport of munitions, and soon they lay in American
ports, while great cases, guarded by Allied agents, but under the
mistrustful eyes of American dockers, were piled up on the quays. After
these ships had returned and had unloaded their cargoes in their home
ports in Russia or in France, and when these cargoes had reached the
guns on the battlefields, to scatter destruction over the German lines,
the Supreme Army Command would probably again telegraph to Berlin:

"We are at our wits' end to defend ourselves against American

The German Military Attaché in New York was ordered to report on the
situation, and in his reply painted a picture which revealed the daily
growth of the American armament industry. He wrote that the harbours
were full Allied transports waiting to take munitions on board. He

"Something must be done to stop it."

In a despairing mood General Falkenhayn wrote on one of these reports:

"Not only must something be done, as the Attaché says; something must
_really_ be done."

And a hasty meeting with General, then Lieutenant-Colonel, Hoffmann,
Chief of Staff on the Eastern Front, whom I had known for a good many
years, convinced me still more deeply that "something must _really_ be
done"! We sat but a few hours together, at dawn on a dreary day of
March, in a room of the Hôtel Kronprinz at Dirschau, on the Vistula.
After he depicted to me the situation on the Russian Front, and
especially in Galicia, I was inwardly certain that the dice were cast,
that America _had_ to be attacked!

American capital had flung itself upon an opportunity to make immense
profits. It was thrown into the scales of war and began to send up in a
dangerous manner the balance which held Germany's fate. That was what
was happening in America.

In Berlin and at General Headquarters this new invisible enemy was the
cause for the deepest gloom. It was no opponent who could be faced in
the open field, it was no foe whose trenches could be taken by storm; it
was a spectre, an intangible phantom, against which strategy, tactics,
and all the courage of the German soldier were helpless. These shipments
of American munitions were the ghost which haunted the corridors of the
Army Command in Charleville. A powerful and sinister hand was raised
against the soldiers of Germany and hurled them back with ghastly

The Supreme Army Command, in view of the situation, made grave and
resolute appeals to the Government in Berlin to stop the transport of
armaments. The Government moved along the ordinary legal and political
channels and remonstrated officially with the Government of the United
States. Army leaders interviewed the editors of the great German
newspapers and requested them to discuss America's attitude publicly in
their columns.

The American Government replied in the same manner as had the American
Press to the German newspapers. America took up the standpoint that she
was distinctly neutral, that the shipments of munitions did not violate
the laws of neutrality. It is true, declared America, that we are
supplying the Allies with munitions, but we are equally prepared to
supply them to Germany: "Send us orders and you will see that we shall
execute them promptly."

This reply from America could be regarded in Germany only as irony. The
seas were dominated by British, French, and Russian cruisers, and it was
impossible for a munition transport from America to reach a German port.
It was therefore impossible to place orders for munitions in the United

German General Headquarters were appealing to the Admiralty in Berlin to
use submarines for the purpose of waylaying the transports; but the
Admiralty, however, was compelled to reply that the attitude of the
Government at the beginning of the War had prevented the building of
submarines in sufficient quantities to prove a serious menace to the
Allies' shipments of munitions.

Besides, those transports mostly took the route north of Scotland, round
Spitzbergen to Archangel, when the munitions were destined for the
Russian Front, and they unloaded in the Atlantic ports of France when
their destination was the Western battle-fields. It was difficult in
either case to attack the transports with submarines, though this would
have been possible if an adequate number of U-boats had been constructed
at the outbreak of hostilities. This, however, had been prevented by
Bethmann Hollweg.

When it was realised that it was not possible to strangle the export of
munitions from America by the usual political means, deep pessimism
settled on all the military and civil authorities in the country. The
attempt had been made to transfer the initiative to the Admiralty by
persuading it to use U-boats, but the Admiralty had been in the unhappy
position of declaring that this method was not available. But it did not
content itself with this, for we officers of the Admiralty Staff spent
our days and nights trying to think out schemes for stopping the
mischief. Suddenly an idea emerged which it seemed possible to carry out
with success.

At the time when the Supreme Army Command was renewing its urgent
appeals to the Government to take action against the transport of
armaments, the Americans sent a request to Berlin that they might be
allowed to bring into Belgium such quantities of provisions as they
wanted. The German Government had hitherto resisted this demand.

General von Kissing, the German Governor of Belgium, came to Berlin, and
I had an interview with him, at which it was decided to make a bargain
with the Americans. The latter emphasised their extraordinary anxiety to
be allowed to feed the Belgian civil population. Good! We would agree to
their request, but in return they should bind themselves to stop the
munitions shipments.

I was put in charge of these negotiations because, among other reasons,
the chairman of the Belgian Relief Committee, Mr. Linden W. Bates, was a
personal acquaintance of mine. I was to proceed to America and discuss
the matter with Mr. Bates. The Foreign Office gave me a letter to Mr.
Gerard, the American Ambassador in Berlin, asking him to obtain for me a
safe conduct to the States from the British Government. I called at the
Embassy to hand over the letter from the Foreign Office and gave reasons
why I should be allowed a safe conduct. He replied that it was
impossible, and that he could not and would not do what was asked of
him. _[Footnote:_ This interview is referred to briefly by Mr. Gerard in
his book, _My Four Years in Germany._]

So our plans seemed to be going wrong. Further anxious days were spent
in discussion, and yet we had not come to a decision when G.H.Q. warned
that things could not go on like this any longer. It was imperative to
take some definite step.

My work in providing money for our cruisers abroad had gradually earned
me the reputation of a man who knew his way about the world in the
matter of financial transactions. I knew America, had numerous
connections there, and spoke English without a noticeable accent, and
the authorities became convinced that I was the man to go to the United
States and take action against the shipment of munitions.

The wrecking of the plan with regard to the Belgian Relief Committee had
proved a serious hitch, and no-one could think of any other method of
tackling the job. When it was definitely arranged that I was to go and I
had accustomed myself to this idea, a new channel presented itself to
our minds.

Herr Erzberger, a member of the Reichstag, had then taken the first
steps in organising an international propaganda service for Germany. His
international intelligence service, which ran parallel with it, was
beginning to furnish exceedingly good results and considerably surpassed
the purely military service of the Supreme Army Command. Herr
Erzberger's Bureau had discovered a man named Malvin Rice who claimed to
be closely connected with an American powder factory, the "Dupont de
Nemours Powder Company," of which he said he was a shareholder and a
member of the Board. He stated that this firm held a large stock of
explosives which was used for the filling of the shells which had
hitherto been manufactured in America. It appeared that we might, with
his help, thus make large purchases of that product in the American
market, sufficient in fact to jeopardise, for some time at least, the
delivery of munitions for the Allies.

It naturally occurred to me that Malvin Rice's magnificent plans might
come to nothing; but there was no time to lose. Either we had to believe
what Malvin Rice had held out as a hope, namely, that large purchases of
powder and explosives were possible, or to drop the idea then and there.
I could neither brood over a possible non-success of this extraordinary
journey before me, nor doubt as to whether Mr. Rice was an altogether
reliable person. "Orders were Orders!"; and when the War Minister,
General von Wandel, put the question to me: "You cannot give us a No!" I
did not hesitate a Second. I replied: "Your Excellency, my train will
leave on Monday morning!"

This was on Saturday noon, March 20th, 1915.

* * * * *

I left Berlin with a sigh of relief. I was thoroughly disgusted by the
terrible inertia over the question as to whether submarine warfare
should take place or not. Indeed, I was congratulated on all sides in
the Admiralty that a new field for energetic enterprise had thus
presented itself to me. I was a man who meant business!

Personally, I was extremely anxious that my journey to America should
not turn out to be a mere pleasure-cruise in war-time, in view of the
strong feeling aroused in Germany by the apparently one-sided comparison
of two letters which I think I should quote here, and which spoke for

The Kaiser had sent that telegraphic protest to President Wilson against
certain violations of the Hague International Agreements. In reply Mr.
Wilson wrote:

"September 16th, 1914.

"Your Majesty,

"I have received your telegraphic message through your Ambassador...The
day for deciding the merits of your protest will come when this war is
finished...It would not be wise, and indeed it would be premature, for
any single Government of any particular nation to form a final opinion
or to express such an opinion...

"I am, Your Majesty,

"Yours truly,

"(Signed) Woodrow Wilson."

Through the intermediary of a friendly personage in a certain Allied
country I came into possession of a letter which the same President
Wilson addressed, a few months later, to the President of the French

"December 7th, 1914.

"My dear Mr. President, _[Footnote:_ Re-translated from the French._]_

"I feel honoured to be able thus to address you as a fellow-man of
letters, and I desire to thank you very sincerely for the kind message
which you have sent me through the medium of M. Brieux.

"I am sure I quite understand the circumstances which have prevented
your visit to the United States, but I am anxious none the less to send
you my regrets at your being unable to realise this project; and I
should like to take this opportunity of expressing to you not only my
own deep respect and admiration, but also the warm sympathy which all
thinkers and men of letters in the United States feel for the
distinguished President of France.

"The relations between our two peoples have always been relations of
such cordial and spontaneous friendship that it gives me particular
pleasure, as official representative of the United States, to address to
you, the distinguished representative of France, my warmest sympathy for
the citizens of the great French Republic.

"Believe me, dear Mr. President, my esteemed colleague,

"Yours very sincerely,


So, when undertaking my new enterprise, I felt in my inner conscience
that I had a good case for Germany. It was accepted in all quarters in
Berlin that something of a more forceful nature must be done than
hitherto. Indeed, conferences took place at the War Ministry, the
Foreign Office, and the Finance Ministry, at each of which I outlined my
plans, in so far as I could gauge the situation from my post in Berlin.
The impression of energy and determination which I contrived to make
gave considerable satisfaction. Men of action, particularly men like
Helfferich and Zimmermann, could not help smiling when I concluded one
speech with: _"Ich kaufe was ich kann; alles andere schlage ich kaput!"
[Footnote: "I'll buy up what I can, and blow up what I can't!"] One
and all they resolutely agreed with me that sabotage was the only

As it had been decided that I should travel under an assumed name, there
was a risk that the German military police themselves might hold me up
at the port. The Foreign Office therefore decided to issue me a
"Kaiserpass" in my real name. A "Kaiserpass" was an altogether
exceptional passport, which could only be issued with the knowledge and
consent of the Foreign Office, and only to people on special Government
missions, instructing all authorities, embassies and legations to render
the bearer every assistance of which he might stand in need. "Thus
provided, guarded, guided," I strapped my bags and set sail for America.

How badly indeed "forcible measures" were necessary was soon afterwards
shown by Papen's letter to Falkenhayn, Chief of the General Staff,
thanking him that at last someone had come to America to act with every
means possible.

It was arranged with Malvin Rice, who had since returned to New York,
that I should sail on the Norwegian steamer _Kristianiafjord,_ due in
New York in the early days of April, 1915, while he was to meet me at
the dock.

I had to start within a few hours. I provided myself with an excellent
Swiss passport, which had been cunningly printed in Berlin, with all the
requisite stamps, seals, and endorsements, and the German Captain
Rintelen became the Swiss citizen Emile V. Gaché. I chose this name
because one naval officer in Berlin was married to a Swiss lady, who now
became my sister, and coached me with information about numerous
nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, and other relations whom I had thus
newly acquired. She gave me a photograph of my parents' house and of the
little cottage high up in the Swiss mountains which we also owned, and
furnished me with private lessons on the Swiss Civil Code and my army
duties. My new initials were sewn on my linen, which was sent to a
laundry in order that the letters should not appear too new. There was,
in short, a number of small things to be attended to, and carefully
attended to, because it was quite certain that I should have to submit
during my journey to the inspection of keen-eyed officers of the British

A few hours before my departure I provided myself with the necessary
"working capital," which I only succeeded in collecting when the train
which was to take me towards my new duties was almost getting up steam
and it was high time for me to drive to the station. In the short time
at my disposal I succeeded in arranging for a cable transfer of half a
million dollars as a "starter."

* * * * *

The die was cast. While motoring in a service-car to the railway station
I pondered over the contents of a letter which but a few days before had
been addressed to me by Count Westarp and Dr. von Heydebrand, the leader
of the then almighty Conservative Party--"the uncrowned King of Prussia"
he was called--suggesting that I should become an M. d. R. (M.P.).

Admiral von Tirpitz narrates in his _Memoirs_ how I was to replace a
Member of the Reichstag, recently deceased. The blue naval uniform was
to make its first appearance in the Reichstag beside the many members in
"field grey"; and an "A.K.O.", _eine Allerhöchste Kabinetts-Order
[Footnote:_ Topmost cabinet order_]_--had been signed by the Kaiser,
giving the necessary permission for a procedure which, under the old
conditions, was something of a quite unusual nature.

Well, I had now given my word to the Minister of War, and there could be
no going back on my word. But how different my career might have become;
for, instead of about three months' absence, it was to take me nearly
six years to reach "Journey's End."

What if I had even as much as thought of such a possibility then,
leaving behind home, wife, and child, and of how cruelly Fate was to
tear us asunder for ever!

The "little creature" of 1915 immensely enjoyed the ride to the station,
sitting as she did by the side of the chauffeur; in 1921 she did not
recognise her returning father...

The Manhattan "Front"

I started from the Stettiner Bahnhof, on which the German flag was
flying in honour of the birthday of the Emperor William I, on March
22nd, 1915. As soon as I was settled in the train I began a task which
looked very funny but which had a serious purpose. I wrote post-cards to
all my acquaintances, dozens of picture post-cards to my friends,
particularly the Military and Naval Attaché of neutral States. These
cards I sent to other friends, in envelopes, with the request that they
should post them, so that the Attachés and all the people from whom I
wanted to hide my tracks, received cards from "Somewhere in Flanders,"
from Upper Bavaria, and from Silesia.

Upon my arrival at Christiania I succeeded in obtaining at the British
and American Consulates magnificent genuine visas for my Swiss passport,
and I felt safe. When the steamer was on the high seas a British cruiser
sent a lieutenant and a couple of sailors on board to see if the ship
was harbouring any Germans. The lieutenant ascertained that there were
no Germans on board. As we approached the American coast I grew a little
uneasy, for the British cruiser _Essex_ was stationed off New
York--three miles and two inches off. She was commanded by Captain
Watson, who had been Naval Attaché in Berlin until shortly before the
outbreak of war. We had been friends, and he had been kind enough to
give me occasionally a few hints on English naval expressions. This
would have been a fine _rencontre!_ I was lucky, however, for the
_Essex_ was not inspecting the passenger-boats on that day, but, as I
could see through field-glasses, was engaged in target practice.

Once around these "dangerous corners," I at last landed, safe and sound,
on the pier in New York. I looked around, but in vain.

Where I should have been met by Malvin Rice, who was to take me by the
arm and show me where I should find the powder ready for "spot"
delivery...there was no Malvin Rice at all. The whole edifice which he
had constructed before my eyes disappeared _fata Morgana_-wise.

So I stood there on that pier of New York, entirely alone, left to my
own wits, but bent upon going through with what seemed ill-starred at
the beginning. Single-handed I now ventured an attack against the
forty-eight United States!

So more or less all the forebodings which I had prior to my departure
from Berlin had been correct, and some of the difficulties, which I had
then outlined, by no means on moral grounds or anything of that sort,
but merely as an expert in "affairs American," had proved to be not
without foundation.

First, I might have been captured in the North Sea, or out in the
Atlantic, by some mischievous British cruiser, and my Swiss nationality
might have been doubted. In this case I had but one task--to swallow the
two tiny capsules which contained in duplicate the brand new "secret
code in miniature," which I was to bring over to America for the Embassy
and the Attachés. In fact, the question was afterwards raised in the
House of Commons as to how it had been possible in war-time for a German
Naval Commander to get through undiscovered; and, as usual, "no answer
was given."

Secondly, it was highly doubtful whether, weeks after this negotiation,
Mr. Malvin Rice had the powder and explosives still available. It was an
under-estimation of the Allies to expect them one and all to go to sleep
in the interim. Indeed, the Allies had not gone to sleep!

Thirdly, could other measures be adopted in case the powder had been
sold? Yes, they had to be--all the more so because at that time the
Russians were gaining victory after victory in Galicia, and their actual
invasion of Hungary was to be feared, with the result that Italy's entry
into the war became a darker thought than ever before.

Fourthly, it was quite possible that my proposed mission to America, and
the objectives I had in view, might quickly cause an international
affray between America and Germany. For that eventuality I distinctly
told Herr Zimmermann, then Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
that he should serve out to the Yankees a flat denial of any complicity,
and state that I was merely a "free-lance."

Fifthly, would not the Naval and Military Attachés consider themselves
superseded in some way, and make my position a very delicate one
henceforth? Indeed they did, and that was the worst of it all. But
still, in spite of more cons than pros, I drove to the German Club in
order to have a word with the Naval and Military Attachés, for I had to
hand over that important document the new "Most Secret Code." I knew
that they both lived at the German Club, where I had been a member for
some years. I cannot say that they were very glad to see me. The Naval
Attaché, Captain Boy-Ed, had a couple of gold stripes more on his sleeve
than I was permitted to wear, which settled once and for all that his
opinion was superior to mine. I tried my level best, as I had known him
socially for several years and we had worked in co-operation, in
Intelligence matters, for a long time too.

He had already received a wire from Berlin that I was on my way. He felt
aggrieved, for he thought that he did not need my help and that I might
just as safely remain in Germany. The Military Attaché, Captain Papen,
was likewise not pleased to see me, which made him side with Boy-Ed.

As I had anyhow not expected either of them to burst out into whoops of
joy when I made my appearance, I was not much worried at their
ill-humour, which, as a matter of fact, I succeeded in dispelling
somewhat by informing the Naval Attaché that I had been instructed to
let him know that the Order of the House of Hohenzollern was waiting for
him at home, and I rejoiced the heart of Captain Papen by telling him
that he had been awarded the Iron Cross. Papen seemed elated; at any
rate, a day or two after he took great pains in writing a letter to
General von Falkenhayn thanking him that "at last someone had come to
America to take steps to hamper the shipment of munitions _by all

I personally felt that everything is fair, in war. Following my
instructions I handed over the precious document that I had brought with
me. It was the new "Most Secret Code." Berlin feared that the old secret
code which the Ambassador and the Attaches used in their telegrams home,
was no longer secret, and it was suspected that the British were able to
read our cipher messages. The only code to be used in future was the one
I had brought over. We then parted, the Attaches to pursue, as hitherto,
the path prescribed by their official duties, while I disappeared into

Hardly a week after my arrival in the United States I received a letter
from Captain Boy-Ed, the Naval Attaché, conveying the wish of Count
Bernstorff, the Ambassador, to have a conference with me. After some
hesitation, in view of the nature of my mission, I decided to go, and
duly appeared at the Ritz-Carlton in Madison Avenue. Bernstorff at once
asked me the object of my presence in America.

In reply, I politely suggested he should not ask that question, since my
answer might complicate his diplomatic duties. At that he drew his chair
up to the sofa on which I was sitting and almost whispered: "Now,
Captain, please understand that, although I am here As an Ambassador, I
am an old soldier as well. You may tell me anything in confidence."

These words appealed to the officer in me; and I not only gave a full
account of how my mission had originated in Berlin, but also made it
clear that it had a purely military character which lay in the general
direction of sabotage. I told him that, as an officer, I cared nothing
for America's so-called neutrality, that the whole of Germany thought as
I did, and considered America as "the unseen enemy." I had come, I told
him, to do what I could to save the German _Landwehrleute_--our
Territorials--from American shells. Though I proposed to act with
energy, I promised I would do so cautiously.

The _Kaiserpass,_ though couched in the grand old German of Frederick
the Great's time, made no bones about the assistance to be afforded its

"Alle meine Behörden und Beamten sind nunmehro gehalten..."

Even an Ambassador!

I moved into a modest but good hotel, the Great Northern, in
Fifty-seventh Street, and began to make inquiries with a view to
discovering whether it was really possible to buy sufficient explosives
seriously to damage the manufacture of munitions for the Allies. I went
to several firms and told them that I was a German agent anxious to
purchase powder, but within a few days I was satisfied that it would be
quite impossible to buy up the vast quantities of explosives that were
by now available in the American market. The daily production was so
great that if I had bought up the market on Tuesday there would still
have been an enormous fresh supply on Wednesday. So during the first few
days of my stay in New York I went about and acquired wisdom.

On one of my visits to the firms which dealt in explosives I made an odd
discovery. One of the partners, a German-American, drew me into a long
conversation about the prospects of the War. I was optimistic and
believed that the War might end well for Germany, but the merchant was
of a different opinion.

"Yes," he said, "things are getting worse and worse, and if Italy comes
in against Germany..."

"What's that?" I exclaimed. "What did you say?"

I remembered my last conversation with Erzberger, who showed me, shortly
before I left for New York, a telegram from Bülow in Rome, in which the
Ambassador said that he was convinced Italy would remain neutral.

When the merchant saw that I was incredulous, he opened his desk and
took out a bill.

I made some joking remark, for I did not know what he meant by this, and

"No, no, I am not allowed to endorse bills. I was told that even as a

The American laughed:

"I took this bill in payment. I do not accept bills endorsed by
lieutenants--particularly when the amount is a hundred thousand

I looked at the bill. It bore the signature of the Royal Italian
Treasury, had been made out about a month ago, and was payable on May
25th, 1915.

"A large number of these bills," the American said, "has suddenly
appeared in the American market. They are exclusively in the hands of
firms which manufacture explosives and army equipment, and they have
caused a wild boom in the market for these materials. We think that
these purchases, which have been made through French agents, but are
certainly for the account of the Italian Government, can only mean that
Italy intends to enter the War against Germany. This will reduce the
prospects of a victory for the Central Powers and lengthen the War."

When I was outside again I thought over the significance of what I had
heard and agreed with the merchant. On the next day I managed to
photograph one of these bills which was in the possession of a friendly
German-American. I cabled my information to Berlin and followed it up
with the photograph. Berlin was at any rate now warned.

I became obsessed with one idea. If Italy came into the War, and
American shells were to be hurled against the German trenches from
Italian guns as well, it was high time that something was _really_ done,
and I could no longer content myself with running about and discovering
that there was too much explosive material in America for us ever to buy

I began to lead a dual existence. In the evening I went about as
"myself" in dress suit and white tie; I had decided that it was much
more dangerous to go about New York under a false name. For, if one of
the numerous English agents should find out somehow who I actually was,
he would know instantly that I had something nefarious up my sleeve. If,
however, I did not conceal my identity, it would be assumed that I was
in America on some peaceful economic mission. Otherwise, it would be
argued, I should have kept behind the scenes.

I appeared openly in the evening, and on one occasion I had the great
pleasure of speaking at a lecture organised by a distinguished
scientific club in New York, the Century Club. I listened to a lecture
given by a very anti-German professor; and when he lamented that the
Germans had burned down the cathedral at Louvain, I jumped up and told
him that it was false, for I had seen the cathedral in all its beauty
only one month before!

During the day I dressed unobtrusively and went first of all through the
whole of the dock district, where I saw numerous English, French, and
Russian transports waiting to take munitions on board. I watched them
being loaded, and saw them steam out of the harbour and make for the
East, their holds full of shells. I wished them at the bottom of the

By way of comparison I could not help remembering what President Thomas
Jefferson wrote to Pinckney, the American Minister to Great Britain,
during the great European struggle of 1793:

"It is an essential character of neutrality to furnish no aid (not
stipulated by treaties) to one party which we are not equally ready to
furnish to the other. If we permit corn to be sent to Great Britain and
her friends, we are equally bound to permit it to France. To restrain it
would be a partiality which might lead to a war with France.

"Were we to withhold from her (France) supplies of provisions, we should
in like manner be bound to withhold them from her enemies also, and thus
shut ourselves off from the ports of Europe, where core is in demand, or
make ourselves party to the war."

And how did Woodrow Wilson act during the great European struggle of
1914 to 1917--until he did make his country a party to the War?

My own grim and sturdy resolution was only strength-Sued by the sight of
those ships. But without wishing to be vainglorious, I felt "I want what
I want when I want it."

Systematically I studied the conditions in the New York docks, and I
soon became aware that a large number of German sailors, mates, and
captains were hanging about the harbour with nothing to do. The
merchantmen in which they would otherwise be serving lay in dock and
were unable to leave, since they would be captured by the British on the
high seas.

It occurred to me that a large proportion of the dockers consisted of
Irishmen, who were far from friendly to England or those allied to her.
Those men openly gave vent to their anger whenever they saw a transport
leaving with munitions and did not care who heard them.

Who on earth could bring me in touch with these Irishmen? I went to see
the German Consul-General, Falcke, a splendid man with vast knowledge
and experience, who was also convinced--contrary to what the Embassy
imagined--that America would soon join the Allied cause anyhow; so
whatever I should suggest he would be only too willing to help.
Unfortunately, his health was not of the very best at that time, and a
few months later he had to return to Germany.

Then there was Dr. Albert. He had been sent from Berlin to make
purchases of foodstuffs and raw materials, to be shipped, as far as
possible, on board neutral vessels, to Scandinavia or Holland, and
thence to Germany. Dr. Albert, Geheimrat as he was, did not care to go
very much "out of his way" from the premises of the Hamburg-American
Line, where he had an office. Consul-General Falcke, however, had told
me, prior to his departure from New York, that his Second-in-Command at
the Consulate--Hossenfelder--was entirely at my disposal, and that this
official had indeed already formed a connection with the Irish
propaganda in America. Hossenfelder, too, was elated over my plans,
which of course at that time had by no means matured, so that I could
speak of them but in a rather vague fashion.

A few days later a nicely dressed, elderly gentleman presented himself
at my office, giving the password which I had arranged with
Hossenfelder, and introduced himself under the name of Mr. Freeman. I
did not care twopence whether this was his actual name or not, as long
as he proved to be of valuable assistance, which he did. Indeed, he
overdid it! In the course of time and events I had to discharge and
otherwise "drop" some of his men, either for over-zealousness in duty or
too great fondness for strong beverage.

Of course, the one man who should have been the first for me to apply
to, and who had in the meantime received cable instructions from the War
Ministry in Berlin that he should "lay his plans before me," was the
Military Attaché, Captain Papen. But no matter where or when I went, I
heard so many almost incredible stories about how he was going about
things, that I must say I was a bit frightened.

Already in Berlin I had been told that he might not be "quite up to the
task" now incumbent upon him. Indeed, it was all too clear that too much
was being expected of this young cavalry officer who had been sent to
Washington to take a post of minor importance, at least from the
viewpoint of the large standing armies of Europe. For whoever was sent
to America as Military Attaché had to possess good horses, good address,
and similar social amenities. And when Papen was appointed, I think in
1913, there was no thought that any bigger task might devolve on him.

I was told that originally he belonged to a provincial cavalry regiment,
and having married a Miss Boche, the daughter of an Alsatian pottery
manufacturer, his new wealth permitted him to be transferred to a
Potsdam regiment of Uhlans, and thence to Washington.

Now he had to be a merchant, an engineer, a mechanician, a diplomat, a
financier, an artilleryman, and an expert in rifles and explosives in
one! What else could the poor fellow be but an all-round dilettante? His
training in diplomacy led him to believe that the office which he most
openly conducted on the premises of a well-known German-American banking
firm was extra-territorial, so "extra-territorial" that his famous
office was one morning raided by the American Secret Service. And
Secretary of State Robert Lansing made the offer to Ambassador
Bernstorff, who of course had vehemently protested against the "raid,"
that he would gladly return any document seized, if Papen or his men
were willing to come and "recognise" their property. Yet Papen resented
any suggestion which was bound to jeopardise his own position as much as
that of others who came in contact with him, or saw him at his office.

The splendid helpmates whom I was to find afterwards among the German
captains and mates flatly refused to be under Papen's command. They all
pointed to the case of that most unfortunate fellow, Werner Horn. This
fellow, a fine and most patriotic man, whom I myself met much later
under the most tragic circumstances, had been given a badge--black,
white, and red--by Papen, to wear on his sleeve, and was told that he
was now a soldier! Evidently an "Enlistment Act" of Papen's own! The
poor fellow believed in Papen's creed to such an extent that he
proceeded to try to blow up a bridge connecting Canada and the United
States. The result had been that his bomb did not go off, that he was
arrested by the American C.I.D., sentenced to several years' "hard,"
then interned as an alien enemy, and afterwards handed to the Canadian
authorities, who in turn gave him a further term of imprisonment. A
completely broken man, whose mind had given way, he returned to Germany,
I think, in 1924.

At the time of my arrival in New York the Werner Horn affair was common
gossip among the German reservists, both of the Army and Navy. Small
wonder therefore that the ship captains and mates, who had after all,
through their service, acquired some knowledge of things international,
were definitely afraid of serving under Papen. Even my able assistant,
Captain Steinberg, declined to have dealings with him and his
crowd--with the "Kindergarten," as some called it--others the "lunatic

Neither could the two Attachés agree among themselves. So confident of
himself was Papen that he sent a telegram one day to Captain Boy-Ed, the
Naval Attaché, warning _him_ to be more careful! Whereupon the latter,
smiling cheerfully to himself, wrote back that "they in Washington" had
no evidence against him, but had a whole heap of incriminating evidence
against the Military Attaché Papen.

Boy-Ed showed me this bit of correspondence, and I was warned; I decided
to leave Herr von Papen the "glory," and gladly gave way in petty

So all this then did not appear to be a start under good auspices, as
far as assistance might be forthcoming from the German officials or
officers on the spot. Very well then! As I said before: "Orders were
Orders," and I set out to "pick my own way."

I soon found out that there was one man in New York who was trusted not
only by the German seamen, but also by the Irish. This was Dr. Bünz; he
had formerly been German Consul in New York and now represented the
Hamburg-American Line. I called on him, for we had known each other for
years, and he had already begun to work for the German cause. He had
instructions to charter ships, which were loaded with coal and
reconnoitred the high seas in order to transfer this coal to German
cruisers at certain given places.

To render this possible, Bünz was in permanent telegraphic
communication, in code of course, with the German authorities at home.
When I saw him he told me that it would be useful if I could furnish him
with detonators.

"Detonators? What do you want detonators for?"

"Well, you see," said Dr. Bünz, "my people want a change. I must tell
you what my methods are. I charter a tramp steamer, the captain receives
a couple of thousand dollars, and disappears. In his place I engage one
of the numerous officers of the German mercantile marine who are
compelled to hang about idle, and, as you know, these men generally
belong to the Naval Reserve--that is to say, they are now on active
service; and they want to get into action. My men have asked me to
provide them with detonators. When they are sailing about on the open
sea, waiting for the cruisers in order to hand over their coal, they
find that time hangs heavily on their hands, so they have thought out a
neat plan. If they have detonators and meet another tramp taking shells
to Europe, they will hoist the war-flag, send over an armed party, bring
back the crew as prisoners, and blow up the ship with its cargo. So, my
dear Captain, please get me some detonators."

I had no objection to Dr. Bums's men sinking munition transports; but
where in New York could I procure detonators without drawing unwelcome
attention to myself? The Consul had, however, done me a very important
service. He gave me the address of a capable man, an export merchant
whose business had suffered through the War. This was Mr. Max Weiser,
and I soon found that he knew his way about New York harbour. I put him
to a severe test and saw that he was not only a man who had had a finger
in many pies, but was also thoroughly reliable.

Though it was possible to stage my plans from my hotel room, we hit on
the idea of setting up first of all as honest merchants. We founded a
firm which we called "E. V. Gibbons Inc." the initials being the same as
those of my Swiss pseudonym. We rented an office of two rooms in Cedar
Street, in the heart of the financial quarter of New York, and entered
the name of the company in the Commercial Register as an import and
export firm. I sat in one of our two rooms as a director of the concern,
and in the other sat my "staff."

While I was still wondering how to get hold of the detonators, and in
fact how to further my plans at all, I happened to find the right man. I
had by now established contact with all sorts of "shady" characters,
some of whom had secret schemes, and one day I was visited by the German
chemist, Dr. Scheele. I received him in my newly furnished office, in
the first room of which sat Max Weiser dictating to the stenographer the
most fearsome business letters. He was inviting all the firms of New
York to send us offers of wheat, peas, shoe-polish, glassware, rice, and
similar goods. We posted piles of letters, so that our firm might
present the appearance of a flourishing concern.

Through this room came Dr. Scheele. He began by presenting a strong
letter of recommendation from our Military Attaché Captain Papen, and
continued by saying that I was a man with varied interests, and that he
was a chemist, with a new invention which he would like to offer me. I
saw that he was rather hesitant, so I moved my chair nearer and told him
that he had come to the right place and had only to reveal to me the
purpose of his invention; if it were any good, he could be sure that I
would acquire it; for the rest, I was the most discreet man in New York,
and he could trust me. He plucked up courage, took a piece of lead out
of his pocket, which was as big as a cigar, laid it on my desk and began
to explain.

This piece of lead was hollow inside. Into the middle of the tube a
circular disc of copper had been pressed and soldered, dividing it into
two chambers. One of these chambers was filled with picric acid, the
other with sulphuric acid or some other inflammable liquid. A strong
plug made of wax with a simple lead cap made both ends airtight. The
copper disc could be as thick or as thin as we pleased. If it were
thick, the two acids on either side took a long time to eat their way
through. If it were thin, the mingling of the two acids would occur
within a few days. By regulating the thickness of the disc it was
possible to determine the time when the acids should come together. This
formed a safe and efficient time-fuse. When the two acids mingled at the
appointed time, a silent but intense flame, from twenty to thirty
centimetres long, shot out from both ends of the tube, and while it was
still burning the lead casing melted away without a trace: _spurlos!_

I looked at Dr. Scheele. I had hit upon a plan in which this "cigar"
should play the chief part, and I asked the chemist to demonstrate his
invention by an experiment. We went out into a little wood near the
town. He chose a very thin copper disc, put it in the tube and laid the
apparatus on the ground. We stood near by. If the detonator worked, I
could put my scheme into operation. I knew what use could be made of
this "diabolical" invention; and all that was necessary was that it
should function. Heaven knows it did! The stream of flame which suddenly
shot out of the confounded "cigar" nearly blinded me, it was so strong;
and the lead melted into an almost invisible fragment.

When I looked round I saw Dr. Scheele leaning against a tree. He was
gazing with bemused eyes at the tiny piece of lead, all that was left of
his fiery magic.

"That was pretty good, wasn't it?"

"I'll say it was!"

We soon came to terms. He was first given a round cheque in return for
allowing me to use the "cigar" in any way I wished. I asked him to
return on the following day, and in the meantime I secured a few
assistants--captains of German ships with whom I had already become good
friends, and Irishmen whose "approval" I had won. The Irishmen had no
idea who I was, nor did they ask me. It was sufficient for them that I
was not very friendly towards England. I collected these men together,
and took them to my office. I was sure that I could trust them, and they
did not disappoint me.

I came straight to the point and explained to them that I had found a
means of stopping the hated shipments of munitions, and one which would
not infringe American neutrality as far as I was concerned. The
construction of the "cigars" was explained to them, and I inquired if it
were possible to smuggle them unobserved on to the transports which were
carrying explosives to Europe. They were unanimously of the opinion that
this could be very easily arranged, and had no scruples since the
incendiary bombs would not go off till the vessels were outside American
territorial waters.

They were full of enthusiasm for my plan, and wanted to take a few bombs
with them at once. They were very disappointed when they heard that the
things had to be manufactured first of all on a large scale. We put on
our hats and went to the docks. We discussed the possibility of finding
a workshop in which we could manufacture our bombs without being
discovered. This presented great difficulties, and as we walked along we
could think of no way to overcome them.

We were faced with a difficulty. Where could the firebombs be

A great many things had to be taken into consideration. In the first
place, I insisted that under no circumstances must anything be done on
American territory proper. Such things as docks and decks, tugs and
trawlers, piers and ports...all these, with my notions of what I could
put forward, in case of need, in an American court, I could work on. But
not on American territory!

I was informed that a man named Boniface would be able to overcome, by
hook or by crook, such minor legal obstacles as the definition of where
American territory ended and where the high seas began. Of course, there
was always the problem of "territorial waters." But that was a small
matter. It was my duty and my exclusive task to see that these
transports of munitions were stopped, or at least impeded. It was not my
job to get around legal points which might be presented by the American
Secret Service, or to brood over such things as Courts and District
Attorneys. That could be done by others.

I remembered an instruction emanating from the British Admiralty, and
intercepted for once not by the Naval Intelligence in London, but by one
of our own clever agents down in South America. A somewhat timid British
cruiser commander had, in December 1914, wirelessed a diffident and
hesitating question to his Admiralty from the port of San Juan
Fernandez, where he had found the German cruiser _Dresden._ He received
the required sop to his conscience, which was still trained to
peace-time considerations and conditions--and rightly so. For if this
had happened a few years earlier, he would certainly have received a
stern rebuke for not knowing the first thing about international

Etiquette! Etiquette! what did that matter now! There were no longer
such things as etiquette or Hague Conventions. The people in London knew
what they wanted. To the Admiralty the news might have meant the
concentration of a dozen warships off the West Coast of South America:
for what mischief might a cruiser such as the _Dresden_ have caused,
with her energetic and enterprising commander and her enthusiastic crew!
A German cruiser was lying in wait on one of the main routes of British
high seas trade, just off the coast of Chile, where all the saltpetre
came from. After very little hesitation the Admiralty in London
wirelessed back:

"You sink the _Dresden,_ and we shall attend to the diplomatic side."

This splendid message, showing how to deal with neutrals, was constantly
before my eyes. Had I not, about a year before the Great War, chosen the
title: "Who is not for me is against me" for one of my examination
compositions in order to enter the Naval War Staff? Had I not been
praised for the energetic way in which I had treated the subject? And
now the British Admiralty had set me an example of how to act in face of
"petty considerations" such as the question of neutrality, or other
matters! What applied to South America might well apply to North

Mr. Boniface came strolling into my room--Mr. Boniface, who was always
and at any time prepared to hear the most startling and daring
suggestions. Serious and thoughtful elderly gentleman as he was, full of
dignity and stateliness whenever legal points were presented to him, he
became almost doubly bewigged in his importance. He shook his head, and
once more shook his head.

"Well, Captain...Let me think...Article VIII of the Hague
Convention speaks entirely against your line of thought. Grave doubts
are in my mind as to whether your attitude could be absolutely approved
of. I must state most emphatically, upon mature reflection, that such
things as violating American neutrality should not enter your mind."

Thus spoke Mr. Boniface.

He noticed the perplexity in my face, and the consideration that
something more "substantial" than the advice of learned counsel might
yield him the harvest of a few attractive bills containing several
noughts, deprived him suddenly of his dignity. He ran out of the room
and disappeared.

Less than half an hour later he turned up again, disseminating as usual
a slight odour of whisky. As always when he was in high spirits, his
pince-nez were slightly off the straight.

"Why not manufacture your bombs on one of those interned ships?" he
suggested. "I have brought you the right man to attend to it--Captain
von Kleist, an old friend of yours."

Kleist was on the best of terms with a great many of the captains and
officers of the interned vessels, and he developed without more ado a
magnificent plan, a plan pregnant with unlimited possibilities.

We were to transplant ourselves, with all our schemes, devices, and
enterprises, on board one of the German ships and thus place ourselves
in a most admirable situation. Germany within American territorial
waters! What possibilities!

Possibilities they were; but there were also facts to be attended to,
the first of them being the provision of some American treasury notes
for Mr. Boniface.

I had seen Herr Heineken, the Chairman of the North German Lloyd, a few
days before I left Berlin. Throughout the winter of 1914-15 Heineken had
proved a staunch friend and ally, a man who saw a little further than
the general run of shipping people. He had been one of the first to
express the few that the War might last longer than was anticipated.

There was naturally some hesitation as to what should be done with all
the shipping tied up in neutral ports. Of the two schools of thought,
one claimed that everything should be prepared so that immediately on
the conclusion of peace, each and every merchant vessel could take her
full load of cargo and speed towards the ports of Germany. The other
school, a little more fearful as to the possible duration of the War,
and consequently as to the state of these vessels on the cessation of
hostilities, felt all the time that they should break out of their ports
of internment, or at least should be made use of somehow or other.

And Heineken belonged to the latter school.

He was enthusiastic when I divulged to him the secret that, after so
much shilly-shallying in official quarters, General von Wandel had put
to me the definite question whether I was going to give G.H.Q. a "No" to
their urgent request that someone should proceed to America, and that I
had as definitely replied: "I shall proceed."

"Take all our ships, take all our men, make use of everything you find
in America, and go after those iniquitous munitions. What else are ships
for? The Fatherland requires us to do our duty, and the British will
have to pay the price anyhow." He almost embraced me in his rapture.

This all coincided wonderfully, and fitted in splendidly with Mr.
Boniface's advice.

I can still see Herr Heineken standing before me, deeply moved by my
resolve to tackle the job, which really meant making war against America
on American territory. He, too, saw the dangers. He, too, fully
recognised that diplomatic troubles, if nothing worse, might come to a
head over such an enterprise.

But it was then and there that I coined for the first time the phrase
which so often in later times was to soften my own conscience, and that
of my splendid assistants, the German captains, officers, engineers,
stokers, and sailors over in America. And it was not merely an empty
phrase. It was something full of meaning, something that must appeal to
any German, no matter what position he held. Whenever things became
dangerous, As they so often did, with the British Intelligence Service
and the American Secret Service both on our heels, it had at all times a
heartening effect upon each of us. "Never forget that the lives of so
many of our splendid _Landwehrleute_ will be spared if we hold on to our
job over here!"

Our Landwehrleute--"Territorials" as they are called in England--the
fathers of families and defenders of their country's soil. The lives of
our own Territorials, of our _Landwehrleute,_ were at stake, and the
thought of this in the ports of the United States served to strengthen
the will to do our task.

* * * * *

Here I now was, and here was Karl von Kleist. This was the first time I
had met him since the outbreak of War, but I had heard a good deal about
the energy and skill he had already shown. They were combined in him
with the modesty of a man who, coming from one of the oldest
aristocratic families of Germany, had yet decided to make his own way in
life. He had started his career as a boy on board an old windjammer,
gradually obtaining his mate's certificate, and finally that of captain.
It would have been easy for him to join one of the crack regiments of
the Cavalry Guards at Potsdam, but that would never have satisfied his
ambition to prove to his family at home in Germany, that in those days
one could make a career for oneself even outside the Army. He was now
nearly seventy.

The matter was too delicate to be handled in the presence of Mr.
Boniface; so we got rid of him, and over a drink we discussed what could
be done and who might be the right men to do it in the right place.

Kleist knew all the interned German sailors. He could size them all up,
and with a wave of the hand he gave me an estimate of the character of
each man, from the general manager to the youngest boy.

A few of them were weaklings. Some of them were born underlings. But
some--and it was a joy to hear it!--the vast majority were men of
steel. Men who did not care for anything and would dare everything.

"Well, Kleist, this is going to be something out of the ordinary. We
must find a ship where the captain will play the game, where the crew
will abide by orders given, and where, above all, the whole crowd will
keep their mouths shut."

Kleist reflected.

"Well," he explained, "you are asking a good deal. Qualities like those
are a rare combination to find on board one vessel. Did you ever think
of Captain Hinsch of the Lloyd steamer _Neckar?_ He is made of good
stuff; he has given ample proof of what a man can do if once he is bent
upon out-doing the enemy. He has been out in the Atlantic for months,
and the British have never succeeded in getting hold of him. It was only
after he had some breakdown or other in the engine-room that he had to
bring his ship into port at Baltimore. It has almost broken his heart to
have to give up the game. That is the man you should get hold of, and
also Paul Hilken, the Baltimore representative of the North German

"Baltimore? Baltimore? That would be all right. But I am afraid it is
too far away, and we must have men on the spot! What do you think?
Hinsch is too far away, I am afraid. If we could get him here--Or what
do you think of having him slip along the coast? It is not such a great
distance from Baltimore to here. Supposing we ask him to weigh
anchor--Oh, no, that can't be done; he has engine trouble, and we can't
get his ship repaired now. It would start too many rumours along the
sea-front down at Baltimore. No, that's impossible. But let's get
Captain Hinsch here anyhow. He must be a good man, from what I hear from
different sources."

"But, then, we must get a proper vessel right here in New York. I have
had talks with Commodore Ruser, the Commander of the _Vaterland,_ but I
think she is too much of a floating hotel for our purposes. It would be
better to hit upon one of the smaller vessels."

"Well, I know of one fine ship, where I am acquainted with the officers
and engineers, and I am sure they will keep their mouths shut. They are
just a wee bit more enterprising than a good many others, and it is an
enterprising spirit that you are after, is it not?"

"Of course! Unless there are some daredevils on board, I have no use for
the ship. You will soon see that the daredevil spirit is the only one
that can enable us to win the War. Look at the _Emden!_ Didn't she win
almost as much admiration from the enemy as she did at home? I must have
men with 'pep'. That's the main thing!"

Kleist banged his fist on the table. "I think I've got it! It is the
steamship _Friedrich der Grosse_ you want!"

"Splendid! Do you know that a _Friedrich der Grosse_ is the flagship of
our High Seas Fleet in home waters?"

"Of course I do--but what does that matter?

"It's the flagship"--my enthusiasm ran away with me--"_Friedrich der
Grosse_--what a wonderful combination! _Friedrich der Grosse! Der Grosse
König!_ Our great King!"

From her magnificent namesake I had seen only a few months ago some
excellent gunnery practice. It was on board her that I had delivered to
the Chief of Staff, as recently as January, the message, so
enthusiastically received on all sides, that unrestricted submarine
warfare was to begin on February 1st, 1915. The rousing cheers were
still ringing in my ears. And now, here, thousands of miles away, in the
midst of all this semi-neutrality and semi-hostility, I had found the
same name, with the same inspiration!

I was so elated at this development that I ran to the trunk which I kept
in my office, and where the flags, and especially the war naval ensigns,
of almost every belligerent nation were carefully hidden in a double
bottom. They had been lying there for a good many months, ever since we
had prepared the plans for the outfitting of the "Russian" merchant
vessel that was to carry machine-guns from Copenhagen. I unfolded the
Imperial Naval Flag and showed it to Captain Kleist. He slapped me on
the shoulder, and said with a smile:

"From what I know of you now, I think you would be capable of hoisting
our naval ensign right in the middle of the port of New York, on the
mizzen-mast of the _Friedrich der Grosse._ That would be a sight!"

"Of course, Kleist, you know that this is all my eye. It can't be done.
One has to hold oneself in and suppress one's inward feelings...I must
remain what I am--_The Dark Invader!"_

So the naval ensigns were carefully folded up again and stowed away in
the double-bottomed trunk.

During the following nights the great dark ship was the scene of ghostly
activity. I had purchased large quantities of lead tubing through my
firm, and my assistants carried it at night to the steamer, where it was
cut up into suitable lengths. I had likewise obtained the necessary
machinery through the firm, and after the lead had been cut up, and the
copper discs prepared in various thicknesses, the little tubes were
taken away again, under cover of darkness, to Dr. Scheele's laboratory,
where they were filled with acid.

We had got to this stage when one morning one of my sailors appeared in
the office, carrying a case of medium size under his arm. I was sitting
at my desk, and he said to me: "Excuse me, Captain, just move your legs
a bit!" I removed my legs, and he stowed the case in one of the drawers
of my desk. It was a disturbing neighbour to have!

The detonators were all fixed to go off in fifteen days, so they had to
be disposed of as soon as possible. I took the man into the other room
where Weiser was sitting and asked him to summon the captains, the
sailors, and the Irish, whom I had meanwhile initiated into my scheme,
for the same evening, so that we might start our dangerous work

"All right," said Weiser, "I'll round them all up."

* * * * *

For good or for ill, our decision had been taken. With increasing belief
in my loyalty to them, and in my intention that something should be
done, the captains and engineers, my helpmates and go-betweens, rallied
round me. They were all agreed that the new "system" must be given a
fair and thorough trial. All they needed was a guiding hand, and I was
determined that it should be mine.

The saddest part of the whole story is that some of these fine officers,
men of unswerving devotion, of unbounded patriotic zeal, who had
volunteered for all and any service for their country, fathers of
families as they were, never asking anything for themselves, had no
sooner returned to Germany at the conclusion of the Great War than they
were discharged. That was to be their reward!

I felt humiliated and depressed when, years later, I received their
almost imploring letter, and was reminded that in 1915 I had given them
a guarantee, not only on behalf of their Companies, but also on behalf
of the Imperial German Army and Navy, nay, of the Government that had
asked me to undertake the task, that whatever they did was being done
for their country, that nothing should be further from their minds than
the thought, or even fear, that their actions might be disapproved!

On the contrary, I had assured them over and over again that they were
men deserving well of their country and their countrymen. After long
internment periods, even terms of imprisonment, some of the finest and
bravest of my helpmates, like Captain Wolpert and others, were dismissed
and thrown on their own resources by some "stay-at-home" directors, of
the German shipping companies--presumably as a "fine" gesture to the
United States, where, however, personal courage and patriotism find more
appreciation and encouragement than that!--a disgraceful thing

* * * * *

My occasional sojourns on board the _Friedrich der Grosse_ meant hours
of rest and peace of mind. The ship was an oasis in the desert of my
hallucinations--hallucinations that every knock at the door, during the
day or during the night, was an invasion of the Bomb Squad of the New
York Police, which had been formed to capture the men who were directing
their activities against the Allied shipping. Two years afterwards I
learned that I had succeeded, thanks to Boniface and Weiser and Uhde,
and all the others who had volunteered for this particularly dangerous
type of warfare, in putting the Secret Service entirely on the wrong

One night, as I was leaning over the rail of the _Friedrich der Grosse,_
gazing at the peaceful scene bathed in brilliant moonlight, all of a
sudden the thought struck me: Why not go to the root of things? Why not
go after the piers themselves, the piers at which the munition carriers
were tied up? Gradually, this thought became a desire, the desire a
resolution, and the resolution an instruction!

And the instruction went out to my helpers.

A "War Council" was duly called for the following morning, at the
Headquarters of the North-Western Railway Company of the State
of--Mexico--"the only peaceful place in the world," as the Hon. James W.
Gerard had so nonchalantly expressed it!

Mr. Boniface, as usual, shook his head, suggestive of long

"Captain, I cannot possibly lend my hand to such enterprises."

Solemnly and gravely he took up the Penal Code of the United States of
America, and adjusting his none too well polished pince-nez on his Roman
nose: "Paragraph No. 2345 of the Penal Code says--"

"Oh, shut up!" one of the captains shouted. "What's the use of talking
about the Penal Code of America? Are not the United States themselves
violating their own Penal Code right and left, recklessly endangering
their own free citizens, by permitting shells and shrapnel to be carried
over the railway lines through their country right up to the Hudson

But Boniface, unmoved by vulgar interruptions from minds not brought up
in the lofty profession of the Law, turned again to Paragraph 2345 of
the Penal Code of the United States.

"Now, Captain, I shall be glad if you will carefully listen to what I
have to read to you. Paragraph 2345--"

"Oh, yes, we all know very well what Paragraph 2345 deals with, but
never mind that!" came from all sides. "To hell with the Penal Code!"

"Here are three hundred dollars as a fee for your legal advice, and you
know what I mean by legal advice," I said to Boniface. "Legal advice to
me in our present situation means nothing! Help me to get around the
law--that is all you have to attend to!"

"Well, in those circumstances--" said Mr. Boniface, after having
carefully inspected the notes, and as carefully put them away in one of
the many pockets of his slightly shabby coat. He turned over half a
score of pages:

"Paragraph 678 of the Penal Code mentions mitigating circumstances--" He
then picked up another important volume, which had been well studied, as
could be seen from the many finger-marks upon it, "the Commentary
relating to the Penal Code of the United States lays down in detail in
just what circumstances the guilt must be considered as proven--"

"Yes, that's just what I want you to find out. That's the point, that's
the paragraph I want you to read. Tell me where the mitigating
circumstances come in, and where the 'proof of guilt' matter is
explained. Read that aloud, and very carefully, Mr. Boniface! It's
important to all us!"

After careful deliberation, and after repeated and thorough polishing of
his pince-nez, Mr. Boniface came to the final conclusion that his
objections on legal grounds might as well be ruled out.

Boniface, with all sinister forebodings about what might happen, had
even gone as far as to warn me that the Piracy Act of 1825 might apply
to me and to my doings, and in that case I stood to get "ten years"!

We had a really splendid legal adviser, and his advice was well worth
300 dollars!

* * * * *

I had first come in contact with Mr. Boniface through an almost farcical
misadventure which befell us. One evening, when coming out of my room, I
met Weiser, and we greeted each other as usual. But he bade me good
evening in a tone of such gloom that it was clear something unpleasant
must have happened. He followed me back into my room, and when I had
closed the door he wrung his hands and said:

"Captain, we've bought some trucks full of whisky! What on earth are we
to do with them?"

It appeared that Weiser, in an excess of zeal, had been negotiating so
long for half a train-full of whisky that he suddenly found that he had
bought it without having intended to do so. We would now have to take
delivery and pay for it.

I did not quite know what to do, for I neither understood the whisky
business nor was acquainted with anybody who could take the whisky off
my hands. The worst of it was that Weiser, in spite of his comprehensive
correspondence, could not find a purchaser for it either, and we
appeared to be in the soup. Weiser thought that perhaps a Mr. Boniface
might be able to help us. I inquired about Mr. Boniface and learnt that
he was a man of many parts. He dwelt in a small hotel, of no very good
reputation, near the docks, and he had an extensive practice sweeping
out the corners that the genuine lawyers had left for him.

When Weiser told me all this I realised that we had long needed a man
who could worm his way along the obscure paths of the American legal
system. We needed, so to speak, a shady legal adviser for our "shady"
business, so I sent for Mr. Boniface. He was tall and lean, wore
pince-nez which kept on slipping down his nose, and gave one on the
whole the impression of a mangy hyena seeking its daily prey on the
battle-field. I had to rely on my instinct, and I was convinced that Mr.
Boniface would rather let all ten fingers be chopped off than betray
anyone who offered him the prospect of good fees. Future events proved
that I had not deceived myself with regard to Mr. Boniface, for he never
gave anything away.

I told him very cautiously about the affair of the whisky, and merely
asserted a wish to get out of the deal. He adjusted his pince-nez,
rubbed his chilly hands, and said firmly:

"Captain, it will cost you two hundred and fifty dollars. My fee is
fifty dollars, and I need the other two hundred to kill the deal."

He received the money, and went and "killed" the deal. In the ensuing
period we often had to call upon Mr. Boniface to "kill" a deal into
which Weiser had been lured by his excess of zeal. When Weiser was
dictating his letters he used to have visions of the happy past, when he
possessed an import and export business, and then he would conclude a
deal that had to be laboriously "killed."

Mr. Boniface could do other things as well, and his help became
indispensable to us. He entered into close touch with the New York
police, and many of the things he learned we found very valuable.

* * * * *

At the appointed time, as dusk was falling, a powerful six-cylinder car
stood at the appointed place on the coast of New Jersey. A ferry-boat
had brought it over from New York. I jumped in!

Through streets and lanes, across lines of railway track and
ugly-looking spots, littered with rags and rubbish from the last loading
or unloading of some tramp, occasionally crossing fields, meadows,
marshes, and morasses, we finally landed before the gate of a shed,
through the bars of whose doors a few inadequate lamps could be made
out, indicating just how far the pier stretched out into the Hudson

One pier after another was inspected, and wherever a night watchman
passed by, or took the liberty of objecting, a few dollar bills gently
slipped into his hand by Max Weiser rendered him as silent as the grave.

Measurements were taken; distances were paced out; the possibilities
were studied as to whether and where motor-launches could be comfortably
fastened--and, if need be, quickly disappear and go into hiding.

Two or three evenings were taken up by these minute inspections, and our
plans rapidly matured: here we were, at the root of the evil, and the
evil had to be destroyed--no matter what happened--"_après nous le
deluge!_"--come what might! The War had to be won, and there was no room
for other considerations.

Our trips along the New Jersey piers, made in a guarded and roundabout
way, soon proved just where the most vulnerable, i.e., from my point of
view, the most "valuable," spots might be. My general and especially my
military knowledge showed me soon what could be achieved here, where
trainload after trainload of munitions was discharged into the holds of
the munition-carriers.

One of our visits took us to "Black Tom," a rather curious name for a
terminal station. It remains clearly in my recollection because of its
quaint conformation, jutting out as it did like a monster's neck and
head. I suppose that it was for this reason that it had derived the name
of "Black Tom." _[Scanner's Footnote:_ Possibly the name was obscene in
intention, referring to a phallic appearance, as in "John Thomas". It is
not clear how many such low colloquialisms an Anglophone German such as
von Rintelen might have known._]_ To judge from the numerous railway
tracks converging here, it appeared to be one of the chief points for
the Allies' export of munitions.

I could not help urging upon myself the advisability of giving Black Tom
a sound knock on the head--its mere name sounded so good to me: we could
run little risk from paying Black Tom a compliment of this kind. Some
peaceful summer evening--all arrangements properly made--a powerful
speedboat at hand for us to disappear into the vastness of the Hudson
River--it was all so remote from observation, from possible harm that
might be done to human life!

About a year later, when I was a prisoner of war in Donington Hall, one
hot summer morning my eyes fell upon a large headline in _The Times:_


I had my own opinion as to how it had come about, and who were the men
behind the scenes!

A great many rumours began to make the round about the _Lusitania._ Was
she, or wasn't she, a munition-carrier? One evening one of my most
trusted captains was sitting with me sucking at a cigar and telling me a
depressing story.

The _Lusitania,_ he disclosed to me, had long been suspected of secretly
carrying small-arm ammunition. It _was_ known that these were carried in
flour barrels, and it was even rumoured that she had two heavy guns on
deck so as to be prepared for anything that might happen at sea. We had
heard this rumour at the time, but had soon convinced ourselves that
there was no truth in it. It had, however, also reached the German
Embassy, and Captain Boy-Ed was instructed to find out whether the boat
was really armed. If it could be proved to the satisfaction of the
Americans that there were guns on board, the _Lusitania_ would be
interned as a warship.

Captain Boy-Ed hired a man named Stegler to investigate the matter, and
after a few days this man reported that he had carried out his task. He
had crept about the deck of the ship at night, unobserved, and had seen
two guns hidden under a pile of miscellaneous objects. The Naval Attaché
took him to a lawyer, to whom he made a sworn statement that he had seen
both the guns with his own eyes.

The Ambassador hastened with this statement to the Government of the
United States and demanded that the _Lusitania_ be interned. The
Government immediately caused the ship to be examined, but could
discover no guns on board, and so Stegler was hauled over the coals. He
gave in and confessed that the story he had told Boy-Ed was a pure
invention for the purpose of earning a reward of two thousand dollars.
He had already received the money, but was sent to prison for a couple
of years for perjury.

This story, which was not very cheerful, was told me by Captain Wolpert,
and when he had finished I noticed that he had his hand bandaged. It
appeared that the day before he had been crossing the Hudson on a ferry
with one of our detonators in each of his pockets. He had his hand in
his pocket and suddenly felt an excruciating pain, and knew that one of
the fire-bombs had begun to burn. He was able to seize it and throw it
overboard before the full stream of fire shot out. Luckily no one on the
ferry had noticed what was happening, but Wolpert had to rush to a
doctor, for the skin was hanging from his hand in strips and he was
badly hurt. Splendid fellow he was, and nothing was so far from my mind
at that time as that I should have to take the responsibility in the
long run for such men losing their jobs.

All our plans were gradually laid and the right men were in the right
places, when one afternoon early in May--this was in 1915--an upheaval
of the first magnitude occurred--the _Lusitania_ was sunk. Most
unfortunately, and contrary to all expectations that the very
construction of such a magnificent vessel would keep her afloat for
hours, and thus give ample time for rescue ships to take on all the
passengers, some internal explosions occurred, and down she went, taking
with her so many human beings.

Whether it is true or not that the American Customs Authorities had
given her legal clearance papers, although she was not entitled to such
legality--all this may possibly remain a secret for ever. Mr. Dudley
Field Malone, the Chief of Customs of New York, was ordered to send all
documents relating to the _Lusitania_ to Washington, to the Department
of State. What these documents really would have proved is an entirely
different story.

There was reason enough for me to lie low, seeing that this tragic
affair was bound to lead to endless complications and might even change
the whole atmosphere in New York, especially along the water front,
where all kinds of rumours got about. A great many Americans were of
opinion that the whole affair was bound to lead to something entirely
unexpected, and that the United States might declare an embargo on all
shipments of munitions. One thing at least was certain. Mr. Bryan, the
then Secretary of State, resigned because his opinion clashed with that
of his superior. Bryan was said to be of the opinion that if there were
no more shipments of munitions, the German submarine warfare might
easily be brought to a standstill altogether, in return for such an

So why continue this destructive work of mine? Why stir up trouble and
unrest, when there seemed to be a possibility ahead that there would be
no more munition-carriers? I had been sufficiently educated in matters
political, especially during the winter of 1914-15, when on the Naval
War Staff in Berlin, to realise that the smallest spark might in certain
circumstances change the situation from one day to the next and give
things a most unwelcome turn. For if there existed even the remotest
chance that Mr. Bryan's viewpoint, which was supported by a strong body
of public opinion, should prevail, then what I had been hoping for in my
heart of hearts would certainly be realised, and the moment was at hand
when I could wash my hands--not in innocence, but in carbolic acid,
after so much "dirty work" had had to be done.

No one would have been more exhilarated than I, after two months of
outright sleeplessness, if the whole business had come to a standstill!
So the general signal was flashed out from my headquarters all over the
Port of New York: "Cease Fire!" All plans were to be abandoned until
further notice...But, alas! no such thing occurred. No embargo was
placed on the export of munitions, and we simply _had_ to carry on!

* * * * *

My assistants came in the evenings, and we discussed in my office what
we should do next. The Irish had already thought out a plan. They knew
their countrymen who worked in the docks as stevedores and lighter-men
and told me that these people were willing to plant our "cigars" on
British munition transports. They had even chosen a ship, the _Phoebus,_
which was to sail in a few days, and whose hold was packed with shells.
I opened the drawer of my desk which contained the case of detonators,
and it was soon emptied. Next morning the dockers who were in the plot
carried their barrels, cases, and sacks on board the _Phoebus,_ and as
soon as they had assured themselves that they were unobserved, they bent
down swiftly in a dark corner of the hold and hid one of our detonators
among the cargo. When the _Phoebus_ left for Archangel, with a cargo of
high explosive shells on board, it carried two of these destructive
articles in each of three holds.

I walked unobtrusively past the steamer while my men were at work,
looked down the opened hatchways, through which the cases of shells were
being lowered, and saw the British agents who were standing guard on
deck, carbines slung across their arms ready to prevent anything
suspicious from approaching their valuable cargoes. That evening my
assistants came to the office. They were in good humour, and reported
that the _Phoebus_ was to sail on the next day, and that they had placed
detonators in some other ships too, which were to leave harbour a few
days later. We had now used up all our supply, and Dr. Scheele was
instructed to prepare some more.

We sat in our office and waited for the first success. We had subscribed
to the _Shipping News,_ which printed the daily reports of Lloyd's in
London concerning everything to do with shipping and shipping insurance.
We had calculated the date on which the accident was to take place, but
a few days passed and there was still nothing about the _Phoebus_ in the
paper. Suddenly we saw:

"Accidents. S.S. Phoebus from New York--destination Archangel--caught
fire at sea. Brought into port of Liverpool by H.M.S. Ajax."

This was our first success, and everything had happened just as we had
planned. Our dockers had of course only put the detonators in the holds
which contained no munitions, for we had no intention of blowing up the
ship from neutral territory. If we had wished to do so we could have
used different means, but we achieved our purpose without the cost of
human life. When the ship caught fire on the open sea the captain
naturally had the munition hold flooded to eliminate the most serious
danger. None of the ships reached its port of destination, and most of
them sank after the crew had been taken off by other vessels. In every
case the explosives were flooded and rendered useless.

On my visits to the offices of the brokers who dealt in explosives I had
seen a large number of British, French, and Russian agents. At one of
the large New York banks, which carried the account of "E. V. Gibbons
Inc.," there was a manager with whom I soon became rather friendly, but
who only knew that I was one of the partners of our firm and thought I
was an Englishman. He had no idea of my real identity.

I put in an occasional appearance at the Produce Exchange, in order to
keep in touch with what was happening, and sometimes I was addressed by
various people as Mr. Gibbons. As a matter of fact, there really was a
Mr. Gibbons, whose name had been entered in a perfectly legal manner in
the Commercial Register when we founded our firm, but who never appeared
in his own office, was never seen, and whom nobody knew. These
circumstances gave me an idea, which occurred to me when I was one day
asked by my bank why I did not try to procure one of the contracts which
the Allies were negotiating with American armament firms. These
contracts were not for munitions alone, but also for military equipment
of all kinds, from shoe-leather to mules. With one of these contracts in
one's pocket one could go to any bank and obtain an advance on it. They
were the most desirable documents that an American business man could

I thought over a plan during a sleepless night and set to work next
morning with the full realisation that the consequences might be
strange and fateful. I went to see a family that I knew very
well--German-Americans, whose sympathies were so wholly with Germany
that they were ready to do anything to help the Fatherland and injure
its opponents. I required the help of the lady of the house who had
spent a long time in Paris and was particularly well acquainted with
Colonel Count Ignatieff, the Russian Military Attaché in that capital.

Count Ignatieff played an important rôle in the European War game. He
was clever and energetic, and his post gave him influence and power. It
was clear that he could be of great use to me. He was especially fond of
the material pleasures of life and was celebrated far and wide as a
connoisseur of claret. At my request the lady wrote him a letter
conveying the information that an American merchant, Mr. Gibbons,
desired to import claret into America, and she requested the Count to
help him in the matter with his valuable advice.

A reply came by night-letter to the effect that the Count would be
delighted to be of service to Mr. Gibbons. My firm now came into action.
Weiser wrote the most convincing letters, was unsparing in telegrams,
and we were eventually in possession of a large consignment of claret.
Count Ignatieff had sponsored the transaction. We were a sound firm, and
we cabled the purchase price to France. Weiser was quite excited when
the deal was concluded, for I told him that we should undoubtedly be
able to dispose of the wine. I did not see him for two days after this,
when he turned up again completely exhausted but happy. The wine was
sold before he was back in _New_ York.

We now wrote another letter to the Count, suggesting that it would be
advantageous for both parties if the Russian Army would employ our
old-established and extremely well-capitalised firm for their purchases
in America. We were in a position to supply everything that the Russian
Army might need, and we inquired whether it would be possible for us to
obtain a large contract for military equipment.

Ignatieff replied at once. He wrote that of course there was nothing to
stop us from receiving large army contracts, but that we should first of
all get into touch with the Russian agents in New York, who were there
for the purpose of negotiating with American firms. He gave us full
permission to use his name for reference, and made things easy for us by
telling us to whom to go.

On my voyage over in the _Kristianiafjord_ I had followed Ulysses'
example and refused to stop my ears to the constant and compromising
chatter of my fellow-passengers--many of whom were Russian emissaries of
importance, hot on the trail of American munitions. I little thought how
and where I was to meet with them again.

I set out, and soon found one of them who was living in a New York
hotel, and who had come over to arrange for the supply of war material.
I was Mr. Gibbons, and acted in a way that persuaded him that I was a
hundred per cent American citizen. But the Russian was reserved. He had
already given all the contracts that were available, and he invited me
to return in six weeks. He then stood up to show me out, but I sat more
comfortably in my chair and suggested that what he had just told me
would sadden a very good friend of mine. The Russian only listened to me
with half an ear and said that he was in a hurry. We were sitting in the
lobby of the hotel, and in order to show me that the interview was
really at an end he summoned a page to fetch him his hat and coat.

I thereupon drew out Count Ignatieff's letter, played with it a moment,
and asked him whether he knew his distinguished colleague in Paris, the
Military Attaché Count Ignatieff. If so, I should be glad if he would
give him my kind regards, when he happened to be passing through Paris,
and explain to him why he had not been able to help me. I was sure that
the Attaché would be interested.

The agent looked at me in astonishment, and when I saw that I had made
an impression I handed him Count Ignatieff's letter. He read it and was
a changed man. It was clear that Ignatieff was too influential a person
in the Russian Army for an ordinary captain of infantry, who had been
sent to New York on account of his linguistic knowledge, to fall out
with. He immediately begged my pardon, grew rather embarrassed, and we
went up to his room. After some desultory talk I made things easy for
him, and he confessed that he had, as a matter of fact, not yet placed
all his contracts for the immediate future, and he declared his
willingness to hand all those that remained to "E. V. Gibbons Inc."

I told him that I should shortly be going to Paris and that I would not
fail to inform Count Ignatieff of the great courtesy and good favour
that my companion had shown me. We went to a lawyer and put through an
amazing deal. I received contracts to supply saddles, tinned meat,
bridles, mules, horses, field-kitchens, boots, shoes, underwear, gloves,
and small arms ammunition. I signed a dozen contracts, and the Russian
called on his Military Attaché, after he had asked me, as a matter of
precaution, to let him have Count Ignatieff's letter. The contracts
arrived by post on the following day. They were signed by the Imperial
Russian Embassy at Washington, and were worth good money. For anyone
else they would have meant great profits, but the Russians would learn
in good time with whom they had placed their contracts.

I left the papers in a drawer for some time, and then sent for Boniface
to discuss with him the possibilities. He knew all the subterfuges for
evading the American commercial laws, and declared at once that nothing
could happen to us.

I took the contracts obtrusively and ostentatiously to my bank, so much
so that all inquiry bureaux in New York entered in their registers the
fact that the firm of "E. V. Gibbons Inc." was carrying out large orders
for the Allied armies. This was a distinct help. I obtained advances on
my contracts for a magnificent amount, and deposited the money, about
three million dollars, in a secret account at another bank.

I now awaited events. The goods were to be delivered in forty-five days,
but a fortnight after the signing of the contracts the Russian agents
telephoned to ask whether we could possibly deliver sooner. They were
prepared to pay a bonus. I was sorry, but it was out of the question.
Two Russians came to see and I learned that the man with whom I had
conducted the original negotiations had gone to Archangel. They told me
that it was of the utmost importance to fulfil the contracts at the
earliest moment, and showed me telegrams to the effect that things were
getting serious for the Russian troops, who were beginning to suffer a
shortage of everything. I was promised a large sum for each day I could

I thought deeply. If I persisted in my refusal they might do something
that would upset my scheme. They might hurriedly buy up everything they
needed and send it across. So I compromised.

"What are the most important items?"

The most important items were tinned provisions and infantry ammunition.
I promised to give them an answer the same evening.

I had a hasty conference with Weiser and Boniface. Weiser shot out of
the office, rang me up an hour later, and reported that he had succeeded
in procuring the necessary tinned stuffs. He had purchased them in three
different quarters, and I at once telephoned to the Russians that the
provisions could be put on board as soon as they wished. Meanwhile I had
myself looked round for ammunition, and eventually obtained as much as I
wanted from brokers of all sorts.

The Russians were happy to hear my news. They came at once to my office
and told me they had chartered a steamer so that the shipment could
begin on the next day. I summoned my captains, and although I did not
tell them exactly what I had done, I gave them to understand that we had
been able to arrange for Allied supplies to pass through our hands, and
that we should be handling the cases of ammunition and tinned foods on
the way from the brokers to the ship. They knew what they had to do.

Next day Weiser rented a large store shed at the docks through which we
sent the goods. I wanted to make quite sure, for I had a dreadful fear
that my plan might miscarry, and I insisted on no less than thirty
detonators being placed on the ship. It was quite simple, for we only
had to put them in the provision cases. They were laid among wood
shavings to ensure their effect.

The boat carried nothing but our supplies. I was given my cheque at the
dock, together with a second one to cover the bonus, which was very
high, for the days that had been saved.

I waited for four days in a state of fever. The Russians telephoned
every day in their anxiety to obtain the horses and mules that I had
promised them. I had no intention, however, of buying these. I sat in my
office, with nerves on edge, until at last the _Shipping News_ announced
that the steamer had caught fire on the high seas, flames having broken
out simultaneously from every corner of the vessel, that the crew had
taken to the boats, and the ship had foundered. The crew had been
rescued by an American steamer.

Half an hour later the Russians were wringing their hands in my office.
I pretended to be overwhelmed and promised to help them. By the evening
I had collected enough tinned provisions and infantry ammunition for two
ships, and we carried out the same operation that had been so effective
with the first consignment. This time I engaged numerous detectives from
a reliable agency, and distributed them about the ships to see that
nobody should sneak on board without authority. The cases were loaded
without incident. I again snatched up the _Shipping News_ every morning,
and again the ships took fire on the high seas. I had promised to supply
twenty-one shiploads in all, and it never occurred to the Russians that
the conflagrations had been engineered by the contractor, since in any
case ships carrying other people's goods often came to the same end.

The day arrived when I had to deliver the remainder of the supplies. I
had been told by my captains some time before that another ship or two
could be loaded with war materials for the Allies, and that it was only
necessary to make certain it could be done from the Black Tom Pier. I
should continue to arrange for the cases to be stored in barges, after
they had been taken from the trains, and our barges would then come
alongside the steamer. I knew that it was safe to follow the advice of
the experienced old captains. By the appointed day I had again purchased
enough materials for one shipload, and I went with the Russians to the
dock, showed them the goods trains, handed over their contents, and
demanded my cheque. The agents, however, had bought the goods "f.o.b."
and declined to pay until they were actually in the holds.

I shrugged my shoulders and pointed out that it was illegal to convey
explosives through the harbour. For each case it was necessary to
conduct long negotiations with the New York police, before a licence was
received; but the grant of this licence was always bound up with so much
red-tape that in practice hardly a single consignment of munitions which
passed through the harbour in barges, was reported beforehand, or
carried the regulation black flag to advertise its dangerous cargo. The
Russians raged inwardly, but I stuck firmly to my refusal, and after
some exchange of words, during which the Russians nearly had apoplexy, I
received my cheque and gave orders for the loading to begin. It took
place next day under remarkable circumstances. The barges were packed to
capacity, and two little tugs came to tow them alongside the two
steamers which were to take the cases on board. They did not reach the
steamers, however, for one barge after another slowly out steadily
heeled over, and finally they all lay peacefully together at the bottom
of New York Harbour. The tugs had quickly hove to when the barges began
to go down, and took on board the few men who had been on them.

Nobody was particularly excited about the disaster; the owners of the
barges were not in a position to make capital out of it, for they had
acted in defiance of the police regulations, and only the Russian agents
appeared next morning with pale faces in my office. It had still not
occurred to them that our firm had some slight connection with their
misfortunes, but they anxiously demanded the immediate delivery of the
rest of the supplies that they had bought from me. I spoke of _force
majeure_ and strikes, of transport difficulties, and everything else I
could think of. I finally told them straight out that I had no intention
of delivering the goods. The Russian officers were struck speechless. I
shrugged my shoulders; they grew wild, I remained calm. They began to
abuse me, so I took my hat and left them.

They sent their lawyers, and Boniface spoke to them. Meanwhile I went to
the bank to pay back my advances; and the bonuses I had earned on the
three sunken steamers sufficed to pay the interest. I went home with the
conviction that I had done a good job. By the time the Russians were
ready to take legal proceedings the firm of "E. V. Gibbons Inc." no
longer existed.

After this success I extended my organisation. Dr. Scheele worked day
and night to manufacture detonators, and results continued to be
gratifying. The number of accidents at sea reported in Lloyd's _Shipping
List_ increased, and the _New York Times_ published on its front page an
item of news which cheered us. On July 5th the Russian Minister Prince
Miliukov had delivered a speech in the Duma regretting that the delay in
the transport of munitions from America was becoming more and more
serious, and that it would be necessary to take firm steps to discover
the cause, and trap the miscreants who were responsible for it.

We were greatly encouraged by this, for it showed us that we were
successfully paralysing the transport of munitions to Russia and helping
our troops on the battlefields; so we continued to place bomb after
bomb. I founded "branches" in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and,
gradually, in the southern ports of the United States. It was difficult
to get our detonators to these towns, for they had to be hidden in the
luggage of our confidential agents who travelled regularly round those

My most fanatical helpers in this way were the Irish. They swarmed about
the various ports with detonators in their pockets and lost no
opportunity of having a smack at an English ship. They still did not
know who I was, for they had been told that I was connected with Irish
Home Rule organisations. I soon, however, had to refrain from employing
them, for in their blind hatred of England they had begun to use their
bombs in a way we had not intended. They were throwing caution to the
winds, and when I turned up at my office one morning Max Weiser came
rushing to meet me on the stairs.

"Captain," he whispered in agitation, "something absolutely idiotic has
happened. One of our Irishmen has just boasted to me that he has put two
of our 'cigars' into the mail room of the _Ancona."_

The _Ancona!_ She was a large English mail boat, carrying passengers,
and I was thunderstruck at the news. If a fire broke out in the mail
room of this steamer, the passengers would be in the greatest danger,
and a conflagration on such a well-known boat would attract the
attention of the whole world. It might be guessed that there was a
connection between this and the "accidents" on the munition transports,
and if the New York police got on to our track our work would be
rendered vastly more difficult, or even impossible. In any case, it was
a senseless thing, for there were passengers on board the _Ancona,_ but
no shells.

Weiser left me standing on the steps and dashed out. Luckily the
Irishman had given him details, and we knew that the "cigars" were in a
cardboard box, made up as a postal package. Weiser knew the address that
was on it, and after a long talk with the postal official on the
_Ancona_ and the exchange of some dollar bills of large denomination, he
returned, out of breath but happy, with the dangerous parcel in his

* * * * *

I received cipher messages from all ports with the names of the ships in
which my men were putting bombs, and I carefully examined the _Shipping
News_ to see what happened to them. In many cases a fire broke out and
the munitions were rendered useless. Sometimes, however, the fire must
have been rapidly extinguished, for about half the ships we were
interested in came off unscathed, or else the bombs must have failed. I
sent for Dr. Scheele to see if it might not be possible to perfect his
invention, though I was in any case convinced that I must find other
methods too; but I could not think of any, and when the chemist called
we discussed his "cigars" and various other matters. We had exhausted
our subjects of conversation, but he still sat tight, and I suddenly had
an uneasy feeling that he had come to the office with sinister
intentions. I looked past him through the window, where darkness was
beginning to fall, when all at once he stood beside me at my desk and

"If I don't have ten thousand dollars this evening I am going straight
to the police."

I continued to gaze through the window. I had long realised that an
attempt at blackmail was bound to come, since we had been compelled to
initiate a number of shady individuals into our plans, but I was firmly
resolved not to yield to any such threats, for if I did so I should be
finished. I soon pulled my wits together and came to the conclusion that
I could not take the immediate risk of telling the man to go to the
devil. He still stood tensely at my side, so I turned to him and said:

"Yes, of course I'll give you the money. Will a cheque be all right?"

I heard his breath hiss through his teeth with relief as he replied:

"Yes, Captain, a cheque will suit me."

"But the banks are closed."

"They will be open early to-morrow morning."

I gave him the cheque and he was perfectly content. I could see in his
eyes that he believed he had achieved his purpose, and he struck me at
the moment as being one of the greatest blockheads that I had ever met.
He took his leave in a rather subdued manner, put on his gloves, and
went out at the door. As he was waiting to enter the lift I called out
and asked him whether he would like to drink a glass of beer, with some
of the captains and myself, later on in the evening. He stood still in
surprise. I observed him furtively and saw a gleam come into his eyes. I
knew I had persuaded him that I was too afraid of him to dare to
quarrel, in spite of the meanness of what he had done. He apparently
thought that I wanted to get on better terms with him than before, and I
found out afterwards that my instinct was right. At any rate, he agreed
to meet me later on in the restaurant of the Woolworth Building. The
door of the lift closed with a bang, and Dr. Scheele departed with a
vision of the long-desired little country house, on the heights of New
Jersey above the sea, which he would now be able to purchase. At least,
he thought he would.

When I returned to my office, my assistants had gone, and I threw myself
into a chair to work out a plan of action. I was still certain that it
would not do to let the man get away with blackmail, for he would only
return the next week to ask for twice as much, and in a month his
demands would be increased tenfold. Besides, if he continued to receive
from me the large sums he would demand, it was still possible for him to
go to the police one day for some reason that might seem to him good.

The first thing to do was to prevent him cashing the cheque and thus
crowning his first attempt at blackmail with success. I took up the
receiver and telephoned to two of the captains. I gave the password
"_Notleine_," _[Footnote:_ Alarm cord._]_ and they knew that there was
trouble in the air. I made a hurried appointment with them and announced
that "squalls were blowing up."

Dr. Scheele turned up as arranged, though I was surprised that be did
so. We sat together drinking beer and talking about a variety of things.
He apparently had an itch to show me what a valuable colleague he was,
and, without referring to his attempt at blackmail, he pointed out a
number of things that might be done. I replied very politely, and about
half an hour went by before the two captains turned up. Dr. Scheele was
not acquainted with them, and neither of the sailors knew what I wanted,
for of course I had not been able to discuss the matter on the
telephone. They sat at a table not far away but did not greet me, so
that Scheele had no idea that I knew them. When he left the room for a
moment I quickly informed the captains how the land lay, and what I
hoped to do with their help. In due course I took leave of Dr. Scheele
in the street and went off to my hotel not far away in Manhattan.
Scheele, like the captains, lived near Hoboken on the other side of the

The chemist crossed on the ferry, followed by the Sailors. He strolled
to and fro, and when he reached a dark corner near one of the large
landing-planks, one of the captains, a man of vast size, suddenly loomed
up in front of him and said calmly:

"Give me the cheque you squeezed out of the Captain to-day, or you'll
get a sock on the jaw that'll send you whizzing down this plank."

Scheele swiftly looked round, but there was not a soul in sight. He
started back when he saw the resolute and angry face of Captain Wolpert
staring at him in the darkness, drew the cheque out of his pocket, and
handed it over. Wolpert continued to stand there, powerful and
threatening, while the chemist clung to a plank with both hands.

"Of course," said Wolpert, "you can go to the police now, but I don't
expect they'll pay you the same monthly salary as you're getting from
the firm of Gibbons. In any case, we've still got a disgruntled Irishman
or two who, if you'll pardon my saying so, would find it a pleasure to
tickle your stupid head with a nice, thick, iron bar. Did you really
think that men like us haven't our own ways of making sure that you
don't show those gold teeth of yours again?"

The ferry reached its destination, but Scheele did not move. Captain
Wolpert turned sharply on his heel and walked off the ferry with an
angry step and his hands in his pockets.

I received the cheque back the next morning. We realized that we had
played a dangerous game, for though Scheele was apparently intimidated
for the time being, we could not know what he would do next. Mr.
Boniface had come in answer to my summons, and I asked him to keep an
eye on things as far as the police were concerned, and to give us
immediate warning if Scheele should denounce us. Boniface, who had just
"killed" another deal for us, stuck his hands in his pockets, looked up
at the ceiling, and said:

"Captain, there are a lot of wicked people in New York. But I am going
to do something that will enable you to put a curb on Dr. Scheele."

He went away, and a few days later I knew what he had done.

Scheele had one weakness. He was fond of women, so fond of them that be
was ready to make a fool of himself if they were only young and pretty.
Mr. Boniface knew this, and drew up his plans accordingly. In order to
understand his scheme, it must be mentioned that there is a law in
America which can often be taken advantage of for strange ends. This law
exacts high penalties for seduction, which is only just. But when an
individual has a grudge against somebody else, the law can be exploited
with an ease which renders it a farce, though a dangerous one.

Mr. Boniface had, as I have said, a varied clientele, which included a
pretty young girl who was useful in more ways than one, and who was by
no means unwilling to do Mr. Boniface a good turn. Mr. Boniface was also
on good terms with the police, and was particularly friendly with a
certain detective who had been of service to him on a number of

One day when Dr. Scheele was crossing by the Hudson ferry, this girl was
also on board and happened to drop her umbrella. Scheele picked it up,
and the acquaintance thus begun soon ripened into friendship. In a day
or two he had to go on a journey, and he invited her to accompany him.
He possessed a venerable Ford, in which he and the girl drove out of
town. When he had left the skyscrapers of New York behind, he stepped on
the gas and gave himself up to pleasurable thoughts of what was to come.

Suddenly a man was seen standing at the side of the highway. As soon as
the girl caught sight of him she began to scream and wave her arms
wildly in the air. Dr. Scheele was astonished, slowed down, and asked
the girl what was the matter. The man in the road put up his hand and
stopped the car. Out jumped the girl, shrieking that her companion had
tried to seduce her and she wanted to ring up the police. The man
announced that he _was_ a police official and that he had stopped the
car because of the girl's screams. He also told Scheele that he was
under arrest. Scheele was speechless. He argued with the detective, who
at last let him go after he had used all his powers of persuasion and
had handed over a note for a large sum in order to stop the matter going
any further. He continued his journey, pondering on the wickedness of
the world.

When he returned and appeared once more in my office, Mr. Boniface was
also present and kept up the comedy. He told Scheele that it had come to
his ears that a girl had consulted a _very_ celebrated New York lawyer
about an attempt made by a certain Dr. Scheele to seduce her. He,
Boniface, was employed by this lawyer to find Scheele. The girl had also
asserted that her would-be seducer had bribed a police official, and, to
cut a long story short, it lay in Mr. Boniface's power to send Dr.
Scheele to prison. Mr. Boniface, however, came to an agreement with
Scheele: "If you don't say anything, I won't say anything either." So
Scheele held his tongue and continued to manufacture his detonators.

The clouds, however, were gathering above our heads, and things were
beginning to get awkward. The "cigar" business was getting too hot for
us. I was rung up in the middle of the night in my hotel bedroom and I
recognised the voice of Mr. Boniface at the other end. He did not tell
me what was wrong, but gave me a rendezvous where I could meet him on
the following morning before I went to the office.

I turned up punctually and heard from Boniface that since the previous
evening the New York police had been manifesting feverish activity. The
docks were swarming with detectives, looking for a band of men who were
placing bombs on ships. Boniface was sure of his facts, for he had got
them from a confederate at Police Headquarters.

We walked past the docks, discussing the possible reasons for these
sudden measures, and my eye lit on the front page of the _New York
Times,_ which I had just bought. We were in for it! The newspaper
announced with large and sensational headlines that when the empty hold
of the steamer _Kirk Oswald_ was being swept out in Marseilles Harbour,
a peculiar little tube had been found, which on closer examination
proved to be an extremely dangerous incendiary bomb. This bomb must have
been deposited while the boat was moored at New York, and it was at once
obvious how the numerous conflagrations at sea during the last few
months had been caused. The paper announced at the same time that the
whole Secret Service department of the New York Police was at work to
seize the miscreants, and that a clue was being pursued which offered
good prospects of success.

I remembered that my men really had placed a bomb on the _Kirk Oswald,_
but I also knew that the steamer was destined for Archangel. It was
clear to me that she had received fresh orders on the way and had taken
her cargo to Marseilles instead, and that the bomb had not gone off
because we had timed it to explode at a later stage on her long journey
to Archangel.

I had an appointment that morning in the lobby of my hotel, and, as I
left, I saw that I was being watched. Two men, whom I had seen in the
lobby, were following me. I drove to a remote quarter of the town and
saw that I was not mistaken, for I was still being shadowed. As I walked
along, the two men kept on my tracks, at a suitable distance, and when I
saw a taxi and had ascertained that there was no other car anywhere
near. I jumped in and drove off.

I hastened back to my office by a devious route, "liquidated" E. V.
Gibbons Inc., and shut up shop. It was necessary to disappear for a
time, and after we had hurriedly arranged how to keep in touch my staff
scattered in all directions. I looked out a quiet watering-place not far
from New York and awaited events; but nothing happened. Since no more
bombs were being laid, the police had no opportunity of making a
discovery. Still, I felt a "need of privacy."

My little retreat was not far from Stamford in the State of Connecticut,
and I took up my quarters in a small hotel, where I enjoyed the sea and
the sunshine and renewed my energies preparatory to returning in due
course to New York. I had registered in the visitors' book as Mr.
Brannon, from England, kept to myself and spoke to nobody, but received
daily letters from New York, which kept me posted as to what was
happening there. I was yearning to return to the scene of operations,
but caution compelled me to keep away for some time.

My agents wrote me that the man who had drawn the attention of the New
York police to the gang which was supposed to be making the docks
unsafe, was Captain G--, the British Naval Attaché at Washington. The
investigations of the police, however, had only enabled them to report
that it had not been possible to discover any proof of the truth of his
allegations. Captain G--- had applied for a whole detachment of
detectives to be sent out from England, who were to work on their own
initiative and under his direction, for the purpose of capturing the
conspirators. The Attaché himself intended to collect the proofs which
would enable the New York police to intervene.

The detectives had arrived and among them were officials from Scotland
Yard who understood their job. Boniface had discovered that they were
following a definite clue, and my men in New York were worried, for it
was possible that the Scotland Yard men were on the right track.

As I lay on the beach reading this report, the problem began to give me
a headache. If the police really had found something out, it was too
risky to deposit any more of our incendiary bombs. We should have to
liquidate our whole scheme, and others would have to finish what we had
begun. The English detectives would be waiting for our next move in
order to catch its, though if they were not really on our track, we
could continue with our work in spite of Captain G--- and his men from
Scotland Yard.

That afternoon I drove along the coast to another watering-place a
little distance away. It was more fashionable and elegant, and slightly
less sleepy than the retreat in which I had hidden myself. I walked up
and down in deep thought and finally landed on a terrace of a small
hotel. A jazz band was playing, and I drank iced coffee while I racked
my brains to find a means of discovering what Captain G--- did and did
not know of our activities.

I suddenly looked up and saw two ladies standing in front of me, who
knew me. They were ignorant of my name and who I was, and their
knowledge of me rested only on a chance meeting at a society function in
New York. We had met at a late hour in the evening, and I remembered
that only the host had known who I was, none of the guests having any
inkling of my real identity. The two ladies recognised me and came up to
my table. They were Mrs. James B--- and Miss Mabel I--. Mrs. B--, who was
the elder of the two, was the wife of a coal merchant in New York, and
Miss I--, who was young and very pretty, was "her best friend." They
told me that they were very glad to see me, for there were many more
ladies than men in the place, and I gathered that they did not have any
accurate remembrance of my name. I hastened to inform them that it was
Brannon, and they remembered immediately that it was.

We discussed a variety of things; water-sports, the War, the new dances,
the stock exchange, and religion; and I then learned that they were
staying at the hotel on the terrace of which we were sitting. They told
me that a large party was being given in the hotel on the following
evening for which invitations had already been sent out, and they asked
me to come along. It appeared to be difficult to round up enough dancing
men, and the ladies reckoned on my co-operation in the entertainment. I
had no desire to go, for I had other things on my mind, until Miss I--
surprised me by saying:

"Some nice people are coming. You are English, aren't you? You will be
interested, Captain G--, the Attaché at your Embassy, will be there. He
is a charming person. Do you know him? No? Well, _do_ come. You will
find him easy to get on with."

I looked out over the sea. The orchestra was playing softly. My two
companions began to devour pastries in large quantities. On the spur of
the moment I decided to take a great risk in order to find out what I
wanted to know.

"Yes," I said, "I shall be very glad to come."

They told me that the hotel was small but very fashionable, and that you
could only be accepted as a guest if you were recommended by a member of
New York society. Most of the apartments were already booked for a long
time ahead. All the visitors knew each other and they formed, so to
speak, a private club.

I moved into this fashionable hotel on the following morning, having
been recommended by both the ladies. We sat on the beach together and
went for walks, and I may repeat that Miss I--- was really very young and
very pretty, while Mrs. B--- manifested a tact which appeared to have
been acquired from a familiarity with difficult situations. We passed
the day in complete harmony.

In the evening, when the ladies were wearing their best gowns and the
gentlemen appeared in all the elegance and dignity of swallow-tails, the
moment arrived for which I had waited. Mrs. B--- introduced me to the
British Naval Attaché. I was informed that I had the pleasure of meeting
Captain G--, and the Attaché was informed that he had the pleasure of
meeting Mr. Brannon.

After Mrs. B--- had left us, we stood at one of the large windows that
opened on to the sea. The Attaché was obviously trying to think of some
pleasant remark to make to his countryman. He was tall,
broad-shouldered, with a clever face expressive of great energy, and was
leaning out of the window a little to breathe in the sea air.

I began to put my plan into action.

"I am Commander Brannon, sir, and have been sent to the United States to
study a new torpedo invention. I heard something yesterday in New York
that I wished to communicate to you personally, but you had already
left, and I thought that it might wait until your return."

"Oh," said the Attaché, "I am glad to meet you out here, then!"

"They only know here that I am an Englishman," I put in hastily; "but
they have no idea that I am in the Navy, and it is not necessary for
them to discover it."

"You are right," said the Attaché; "but tell me, Commander, what was it
you wished to report to me?"

I pulled myself together. Now was the moment.

"A certain Captain Johnson, in charge of an English transport, has
informed me of the strange incident of which he was a witness. He saw
five men carrying heavy cases through the docks a few days ago, and as
their behaviour looked rather odd he followed them for a couple of
hundred yards. They loaded their mysterious cases into a motor-boat and
shot off into the harbour. It was a clear night and he saw them draw
alongside a vessel which had been loading munitions, in order presumably
to go out to sea next day.

"The strange thing was that these men, together with their cases, were
taken on board by means of a crane. The vessel sailed, but in the
morning, before it left the harbour, Johnson called on the captain to
tell him what he had seen. And what do you think happened? Not a soul on
the whole ship admitted having seen the five men--neither the officer of
the watch, nor any of the crew, nor our detectives. Don't you think
there was something queer about it?"

Captain G--- had listened very attentively. "Tell me," he said, "did your
confidant see any of these five fellows sufficiently clearly to
recognise him again? Was he close enough to notice how they were
dressed, and did he describe to you what they looked like?"

I regretted that Captain Johnson, who had already gone off to sea again,
had told me no more than I had imparted to the Attaché, and that I had
no more helpful information to divulge.

"I thought it would interest you," I said. "We have heard so much in the
last few weeks about acts of Sabotage against our ships."

"Yes, of course," replied Captain G--; "of course it interests me. I
suppose you have read that we have definite suspicions. There is a gang
working in New York Harbour under the direction of a German officer. We
even know his name. He is called Rintelen, and has been mentioned a
number of times in wireless messages by the German Embassy. The strange
thing is, however, that the American police stick to their statement
that he is a gentleman who is not doing anything criminal, and yet my
men have often seen him hanging about the docks."

He even admitted his identity once in a tavern, when he was drunk, and
hadn't a hold on his tongue. He did not give away any details concerning
his activities, but it is certain that he owns a motor-boat, and runs
about in it for days together selling goods of all kinds to the ships in
the harbour. I cannot tell you any more, Commander, but I can promise
you that he soon will be in our hands."

"Yes, that's not likely to be a difficult job," I said, laughing
internally till it hurt. "A fellow who gets drunk and lets his tongue
run away with him, and sails about the harbour openly in a motor-boat,
must be easy to trap."

The jazz band broke into our conversation, and I had to dance with Miss
I--. She found me a delightful companion, for I was very elated, and I
had good reason to be.

It is true that I knew the English suspected me, though I had no idea
how they came to believe that I was accustomed to getting drunk in
waterside taverns, and that I was doing business in a motor-boat.
Naturally I did not like being under suspicion, but it was inevitable
sooner or later, and it did not matter so much since at the same time
they believed such glorious nonsense about my character. It was obvious
that they were not aware of the identity either of the instigators or
the tools concerned in our plot; in other words, that they were on the
wrong track, chasing a phantom which they believed, for heaven knows
what reasons, to be identical with myself. The ground began to burn
under my feet: I could now return to New York and resume my activities.

Suddenly I saw the Attaché talking to a man who looked like a servant
and must have just handed him a letter. The dancing continued, and when
G--- and I met a little later on at the buffet he drew me into a quiet
corner to consume a dish of herring salad. He asked me about a number of
fellow-officers, and as I had been employed in the department of the
Admiralty at Berlin which was concerned with British matters, and had
met British naval officers in the course of numerous journeys and social
functions, having indeed written a dissertation on the British Navy for
the staff examination, I was able to relate a variety of stories about
officers whom we both knew.

We sat in our corner and talked shop to the great displeasure of the
ladies. Captain G--- soon became more confidential and told me that he
had just received a letter that would necessitate him doing a little
work that very night. He had just heard that the captain of a small
freighter had reported in New York having sighted the German cruiser
_Karlsruhe_ in the Atlantic. He gave the degrees of latitude and
longitude, and it was evident that the _Karlsruhe_ had some definite
plan in view since she had not bothered the freighter at all.

The _Karlsruhe!_ I had had no news of her Since leaving Berlin, and now
she, or a raider of the same name, to mislead the British, was
apparently cruising about the Atlantic in order to "molest" English
merchantmen on their way from America to Europe. This was what I thought
to myself, but I only said: "The _Karlsruhe!_ Really, the _Karlsruhe!_
What are you going to do?"

"It's very simple," replied Captain G "You can probably imagine. In an
hour's time I am going to cable to the Admiralty in London, and at the
same time I shall inform the Bermuda Squadron, on my own initiative,
that this impudent little cruiser is sailing about our seas. The Bermuda
Squadron will send the cruiser _Princess Royal_ to put a stop to it. We
shall see."

If the powerful cruisers of the Bermuda Squadron should come upon the
little Karlsruhe there was no doubt what the end would be. This
realisation was accompanied by the immediate resolution to try and
provide something else for the Bermuda Squadron to do instead of going
in chase of the _Karlsruhe._ If I could succeed in holding up action for
a few days, it might be possible to warn the German vessel by wireless.
I did not yet know how this could be done, but hoped for a lucky idea.

"I think," I said, "that the Bermuda Squadron ought to keep an eye on
the German auxiliary cruisers."

"The German auxiliary cruisers? _What_ cruisers? What do you mean?"

"I mean, sir, that the Bermuda Squadron ought to prevent the large
German steamers, which are lying in the North American harbours, from
breaking through. There are about thirty or forty of them and they are
very swift. It is rumoured that they would try to avoid being interned
if the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, and
they are said to have guns on board which the confounded Boches have
managed to get hold of."

The Attaché bit his lip.

"Yes, yes, of course," he said; "yes, of course."

I could see that this information had startled him. There was not a word
of truth in it, though the idea had once been on the _tapis_. Attachés
resemble each other all over the world. They would rather let their ears
be cut off than admit that there is anything connected with their job
that they do not know.

At last he said: "I thought this affair of the German steamers had been
kept pretty quiet. How did you hear about it?"

"I got it from the American engineer whose invention I am testing, and
also--now, who was it who told me?--yes, I remember, it was an oil

The Attaché grew distinctly pensive. "Yes," he Said, "I must reconsider
the matter. It would of course be more useful to catch the steamers than
send our cruisers chasing after the _Karlsruhe."_

I was called to take part in a game which the ladies had organised, and
I was unable to get out of it. I then had to dance, but my eyes sought
G--, who had disappeared. Shortly afterwards I was accompanying Miss I--
on a walk along the beach under a very romantic moon, when I saw a man
in evening-dress crossing the promenade It was G--. When he came up he
took Miss I---'s other arm and we all three went back to the hotel. I
cogitated as we walked how I could find out what G--- had been doing in
the meantime. I decided to base my action on my "special" knowledge of
the _genus_ Attaché, and began to say flattering things to him. I gave
vent to my regret that I should probably never become an Attaché myself,
which, I said, had always been my ambition, though it was likely never
to be achieved.

"You, sir, are a factor in the history of this great War. People will
always say of you, 'Yes, he was Naval Attaché in Washington.' London
acts on your advice, and things are done at your bidding."

Captain G--- listened attentively and was visibly pleased. He said
something patronising, and as we stepped aside to let Miss I--- enter the
hotel he held me back and whispered:

"Commander, you are an understanding sort of person, and will know how
to keep a secret. The telegrams I am about to dispatch will prepare a
surprise for the German steamers if they try to leave dock. So we will
let the _Karlsruhe_ alone for a bit..."

Every ball comes to an end eventually, and when I was back in my room I
felt very happy. I had achieved more than I dared to hope, for I knew
that the English had no inkling of the shady paths that my agents and I
had been pursuing in New York, and I believed that I had saved the
_Karlsruhe_ from the guns of the British battleships.

It had been a good evening.

Next morning all the king's horses could not have kept me in the place,
and I left for New York as soon as I could. I put my luggage in the
cloakroom at the station and tried to re-establish contact with my men.
After some vain attempts I found one of the German captains. We met
"down-town" and he was so brimful of courage that I poured out my heart
to him, and we decided to resume full activity on the following day. We
discussed details, arranged to collect all our people, and made our way
to the office that had been the headquarters of the firm of Gibbons. I
wanted to see whether any mail had arrived for us. On the way we
considered how it might be possible to warn the _Karlsruhe,_ and thought
that perhaps the Naval Attaché might have ways and means at his
disposal. I made up my mind to send a message to Captain Boy-Ed late
that evening to let him know what I had board.

When I opened the door of my office we both stared in amazement. A
veritable mountain of letters lay heaped up on the floor. They were
apparently offers of goods which had been invited by the indefatigable
Max Weiser; catalogues, newspapers, samples and all sorts of things,
pushed through by the postman. It would have taken a day to discover
whether the pile contained a letter that needed my attention, and I had
to leave the task to Weiser, for I had no time to look through them
myself. The captain and I were standing by the door, pushing the letters
aside with our feet, when we suddenly saw a man outside scrutinising us.
The captain banged the door in his face. There was a knock, and I opened
the door again, to see the man still standing there. He wore a shabby
overcoat and the rest of his clothing was also in a state of decay, but
he was sunburnt and he looked like a sailor.

"Excuse me," he said. "Is there anybody here belonging to the firm of E.
V. Gibbons?"

He spoke broken English and appeared to be a German, or, it swiftly shot
through my mind, perhaps he wanted to make us think he was a German. He
looked suspicious to me.

"No," I replied; "we are only clearing up."

"Do you know perhaps where the gentlemen are to be found? I must speak
to them urgently."

"I don't know anything about them," I growled. "Don't worry me about
other people's affairs. Go and see the manager of the building."

"I've been there already. Can't you _really_ tell me where I can find

"Haven't the faintest idea," I said in an irritated tone and closed the

"That young fellow looks very suspicious," the captain suggested. "Shall
I follow him and find out what sort of a bird he is?"

"Yes," I replied hastily, "that's a good idea. Go after him quickly, but
don't let him see you."

I told him where he could reach me and left the building. I had laid my
plans on my journey back to New York, and I was anxious to give the
impression that I was a man who had nothing to fear. So I took up my
quarters at the New York Yacht Club. This was one of the most exclusive
clubs of New York, and I had been a member since before the War. It had
only three German members, the first being the Kaiser, the second his
brother, Prinz Heinrich, and the third myself; so I was in good company.
I had my luggage fetched from the railway station and sent for the rest
of my things.

I had nearly finished unpacking when the telephone bell rang. The German
captain was at the other end and sounded very excited. He would not tell
me what was the matter over the telephone, but begged me to come to the
docks as soon as I could. When I met him in the little tavern which we
had arranged as a rendezvous, he was still agitated as he told me what
had happened.

He had followed the man who had appeared at the office that afternoon
and made a strange discovery. The suspicious-looking customer had taken
him on foot right through New York and had finished up at last in a
small "pub" by the waterside. The captain had looked through the door
and seen ten men sitting round a large table, apparently waiting for the
new arrival. They had half-empty glasses in front of them and one or two
had fallen asleep with their heads on their arms. The man had conveyed
some gloomy news to them, and the whole company seemed to have no idea
what they should do. The captain had telephoned to a sailor he knew, who
entered the tavern, pretended to be a little drunk, and stood a round of
drinks. The captain waited in the street until his friend came out and

"I'll be hanged if they are not the crew of a German man-o'-war."

Seamen have an unfailing eye for such things, and they sent for me

The captain's excitement communicated itself to me, and I had to find
out what these people were doing. They were still inside the tavern, and
the captain suggested that he should go inside and fetch out the man who
had asked for us. I agreed and waited outside.

The captain soon emerged, accompanied by the man. I stepped out of the
surrounding darkness into the light of a street-lamp, and, following a
sudden inspiration, said to the man in German:

"Whom are you looking for?"

He looked at me rather startled, and hesitated a moment before he
replied, likewise in German:

"I am looking for the Captain. I was told to go to the firm of E. V.
Gibbons and ask for the Captain."

_"Who_ told you?"

"A sailor, but I don't know who he was."

My men always called me "the Captain," and never mentioned my name. The
man really appeared to be a German, and when I inspected him more
closely he certainly gave the impression of being a naval rating. I
decided to rely on my instinct again, and in any case I was sure he was
not an English agent.

_"I_ am the Captain. What's wrong?"

He looked at me dubiously, and I could see from his face that he was
mistrustful. He hesitated, looked at me for a moment, and replied in

"It's all right, sir. I made a mistake."

My doubts were now cast to the winds, and taking him by the arm I said:

"Don't be afraid. I will help you. But tell me who you are, and who are
those men with you?"

He hesitated again. I looked at him and knew that I could reveal my
identity. Moreover, I had a feeling that he had something important to
tell me. A prickly sensation cation crawled up my spine and I had a
vague dread of what I was about to hear. I put my hand in my breast
pocket and drew out a document which was bound to convince him, if he
was really a naval rating, of my identity. It was the _"Kaiserpass"_
with which I had been furnished in Berlin as my authority at all foreign
stations of the German Empire. I opened this document and showed it to
him. He looked at the photograph, examined me keenly, and was persuaded.
Suddenly he clicked his heels together and stood stiffly to attention.

"Petty Officer, sir, reporting with ten men from the sunken

I felt as if I had received a blow on the forehead. The street went
round and round and the lights swam in a mist before my eyes. The sailor
loomed gigantic and unreal against the background of the dock.

I pulled myself together and swallowed hard. The sailor was still
standing stiffly in front of me, and I seized him by the shoulder to
draw him away from the light of the street-lamp. He then told me the
fate of the _Karlsruhe._

A torpedo had exploded for some unexplained reason inside the ship, and
had rent her in two, without the enemy having anything to do with it.
She had sunk some time ago, and the sailor, together with his
companions, had got away in a boat, been picked up by a steamer, and
been brought to New York. The steamer belonged to a neutral Power and
they had begged her captain to conceal the fact that he had rescued
them. They intended to try and find their way home from New York. Their
ideas as to what would happen to them if they reported to the German
Consulate in New York were vague, and they were afraid of being
interned; so some one advised them to come to me. When we had arranged
for them to be looked after, I went home and spent a sleepless night. I
was obsessed with the thought of the _Karlsruhe's_ fate!

The next morning I cautiously began to resume contact with my other
agents. I met them in different parts of the town, and the whole day, as
I went about, I could not forget the absurd story that G--- had told me
concerning my hanging about the waterside tavern and selling things from
a motor-boat. I spent the evening at the restaurant in the Woolworth
Building with a number of my best men, including Max Weiser and a couple
of the German captains.

They laughed uproariously when I told them the story and were genuinely
amused, but were unable to suggest how to get at the kernel of truth
which must certainly lie at the root of it. There were so many gentlemen
who drank too much in the dockside taverns, and there were so many
gentlemen who did business in the harbour. We had no clue to the
mystery. On the following day I had an appointment with Mr. Boniface,
who was to report to me what news there was at Police Headquarters. We
met at a little café, and he looked more glum than ever. His face
registered suppressed wrath, and he dumbfounded me by severely taking me
to task.

"It isn't my business, Captain," he said, "to tell you what you ought to
do, and I should never have thought that you could behave so. I should
never have believed that you could be so careless."

I lost my temper.

"Don't talk in riddles, man. What have I done? What has happened? Out
with it!"

"You got drunk;" said Boniface gloomily. "You got very drunk, and said
you were the German captain who sets the ships on fire."

This was beyond a joke.

"If you dare to tell me that I also sail about the harbour in a
motor-boat, I shall get rude."

Boniface almost wept as he polished his pince-nez.

"What good will it do you, Captain," he complained, "to be rude to a
poor old man who only wishes you well? What good will it do you? Take my
advice and be more cautious. What do you want in the harbour, Captain?
There's nothing for you to do there and you only attract attention to

"How do you know all this?"

"The whole of the police force knows it. At Police Headquarters they
talk of nothing else. All the detectives are discussing it morning,
noon, and night."

"Mr. Boniface!" I said. "Mr. Boniface! Just listen to me. I have never
been drunk in New York. I have never said that I am the German captain
who sets ships on fire. And I have never sailed about the harbour in a

Mr. Boniface put on his glasses and adjusted his hat. "It is a great
pity that we have to part, Captain, You have ceased to trust me. Why not
honestly confess that you made a mistake that might happen to anybody,
and we could then consider how to cover it up."

I was no longer angry. I began to laugh.

"But, Mr. Boniface, what shall I do to convince you? I have never in my

To my surprise Boniface grew very serious and said: "I have heard that
gentlemen of your rank in Germany are accustomed in such cases to swear
on their word of honour."

"All right: on my word of honour, Mr. Boniface."

I then heard the absurd story for the second time, and Boniface assured
me that the whole of the New York police were looking for the German
Captain Rintelen who rolled about the docks and sailed about the
harbour. I questioned him carefully and learned that he had obtained the
most exact information from a certain official who had seen the alleged

"You must find out, Mr. Boniface, what is known about him. Find out the
minutest details, so that we can ourselves have a look at the fellow who
has been trumpeting forth his activities."

Boniface grew thoughtful. "It will cost money," he suggested. "I shall
have to knock the policeman down first."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"Don't worry, Captain. I'll knock him down with a thousand dollars."

It was worth a thousand dollars. I gave Boniface the money, and he
knocked his man down the same evening.

He telephoned me to meet him, and I found him very excited and rather
ashamed. What he had to tell me was indeed queer. The police had been
after me since noon, when I had gone out in my motor-boat, and I was at
this moment sailing about the harbour. The police wanted to catch me
climbing secretly on board a ship to deposit an incendiary bomb.

I shook my head in bewilderment, and sent for one of my captains to come
down to the docks with me and cross the Hudson to Hoboken. Boniface went
ahead and we followed.

Boniface knew the exact spot where the detectives were waiting to shadow
me when I should draw alongside in my boat. Their intention was to
ransack the motor-boat for incendiary bombs. Even before we arrived we
could see a couple of men in bowlers leaning against the railings of a
jetty. We went round them in a wide circle and stole into the
surrounding darkness to await events.

First came a woman, who remained standing for a time on the quay near
the jetty and then began to walk up and down, with her eyes fixed on the
waters of the harbour. Then a motor-boat drew alongside. The two men had
meanwhile disappeared, but we saw them crouching behind a railway train.
A man emerged from the boat carrying a couple of heavy baskets, and the
woman hastened up to him. The detectives crept round to bar his way, and
though it was too dark to make out his face, it could be seen that he
was tall and wore a roomy raincoat.

After he had made his boat fast, the woman helped him to carry his
baskets along the jetty towards the quay, with the intention apparently
of making for the town. Suddenly they were confronted by the two
detectives, with whom they collided, so that the baskets toppled over
and their contents rolled along the ground. The detectives apologised
profusely, picked up the fallen objects and put them in the baskets
again, and while the man in the raincoat shouted abuses at them, they
raised their hats and disappeared.

From our hiding-place we saw two other detectives following the man and
woman and we attached ourselves to the procession. It was dark and rain
was falling, and we could only see the pursuers, not the pursued.
Suddenly they ran round different corners and we came to a standstill,
for the detectives had lost the trail. I was fed-up with chasing myself
and had other things to do, so I went home. We knew where the man kept
his boat and it would not be difficult to discover what he was up to.

In fact, we found out on the following day as much as we wanted to know.
His business in the harbour was quite harmless. He was especially
interested in the sale of tobacco and spirits, and, as far as the sale
of alcohol was concerned, he appeared to be his own best customer. He
lived with a woman and seemed to be in fear of the law, for he
frequently changed his quarters. He had got drunk one night in a tavern
by the waterside and had declared in all seriousness that he was a
German captain occupied in placing bombs on Allied munition transports
so that they caught fire at sea.

The whole affair was ridiculous, but it was a matter of great concern to
us since all the British detectives swore positively that he was Captain
Rintelen in disguise. The New York police had ascertained that Rintelen
was often seen in society in evening-dress and that he lived at the New
York Yacht Club. But this did not influence the detectives, who declared
that Rintelen was leading a dual existence, in one phase of which he
appeared as the decayed individual with the motor-boat. They even
succeeded in convincing the American Secret Police, or at least the
minor officials, who soon believed this grotesque nonsense. The man they
were after noticed of course that he was being pursued; but as he had a
bad conscience he disappeared and thus strengthened the suspicions of
the police.

We hit on an idea which caused us considerable amusement, but which,
when we carried it out, served us well to the end. One of my men who was
less in the bad books of the police than the others, and who could not
under any circumstances have been charged with an act of sabotage,
bribed the eccentric stranger to enter our service, and we discovered
that, as a matter of fact, he bore a certain superficial resemblance to
myself. He had gone to the dogs and was constantly drunk. Our subsequent
activities not only completely nonplussed the British detectives, and
even some of the American police officials, but made them all the more
certain that we were one and the same individual.

My agent picked him up in the street one day, stood him a number of
drinks, put him in a car, and took him to the little dockside tavern in
which he had previously engaged a room. The man was in a state of
semi-intoxication and allowed himself to be stripped of his dingy
garments and dressed in a new suit and patent-leather shoes which were
much too large for him. He was then taken to a large, fashionable hotel
and the detectives lost all trace of him. It was a game which my men
went on playing with numerous variations, and it not only amused us, but
fulfilled its purpose.

We then let him return to his business, which he soon began to neglect,
however, as he received plenty of money from us. He was in such a state
that he never asked questions, but did blindly everything we asked of
him. A few dollars in his pocket and frequent drinks kept him happy. He
could not give us away, since he knew nothing about us, and we found him
very useful. He began to take an interest in his clothes, and every
morning he showed himself at a busy street-crossing not far from the
Yacht Club. In the other part of the town, where our office was
situated, he disconcerted both the lift-boys and the detectives.

When we had thus led the police on a false trail I began to spin my
threads again. Dr. Scheele was instructed to resume the construction of
detonators, and in spite of the increased risks we succeeded in placing
them on transports. As before, we only put them on British. French, and
Russian vessels so as not to violate American neutrality. We also rented
a new office, rooms being put at our disposal by a German of
half-Mexican extraction and of an adventurous disposition.

We equipped our new quarters so that the rooms were divided into two
parts by special doors and were connected by telephone and an alarm bell
rang very softly. I was thus protected against undesirable visitors and
possessed an emergency exit to the corridor to ensure an orderly
retreat. We were now called the "Mexico North-Western Railway Company,"
and this name appeared neatly on the door of our office.

The first act of the new firm was to acquire an idea, the father of
which was a young German engineer named Fay. He declared that he had
invented a machine which was capable of tearing off a ship's rudder
while at sea. He made a good impression on me, and after discussing the
matter with my captains I gave Fay money to prepare his experiments.

He returned a week later and said he was ready. I sent him into the
country with a couple of the captains to buy a piece of ground in a
deserted region which was well hidden by trees. Here they constructed
the stern of a ship out of wood and attached to it a genuine rudder. To
this rudder was fixed a detonator, the tip of which carried an iron pin
which was needle-shaped at the lower end. The pin was connected with the
rudder-shaft itself; and as the shaft revolved the iron pin turned with
it, gradually boring its way into the detonator, until it eventually
pierced the fulminate and caused an explosion which blew away the

When the model had been solidly constructed, Fay attached his apparatus
and began to revolve the rudder. The captains stood at a respectful
distance and Fay kept on turning for about an hour or so. Then there was
a terrific bang, and bits of the model flew about the captains' ears.
Fay himself went up in the air, but came down again in the wood with
only a few injured ribs. The trees themselves were damaged, and a fire
broke out which they had to extinguish. They then got into the car and
returned to New York to report to me that the invention had functioned

Fay was financed with enough money to carry on his experiments, until he
succeeded in producing his apparatus in a handy form and was ready to
make his first attempt. He took a motor-boat out into the harbour one
evening and apparently had engine trouble, for he drew up alongside the
rudder of one of the big munition transports and made fast. He actually
managed in two cases to fix his machine, and we waited results. They
were announced in due course by the _Shipping News,_ and the New York
papers were agitated. There had been two mysterious accidents, and
nobody could say how they happened. Two transports had had their rudders
torn away at sea and suffered serious damage to the stem. One of them
had been abandoned by its crew and was drifting as a wreck on the
Atlantic, while the other had had to be towed into the nearest harbour.

When this success had become public knowledge, Fay could no longer
venture to sail about the harbour in his motor-boat. He was young, but
bold and resolute, and during the next few weeks he undertook adventures
on munition transports which demanded iron nerves. He mounted his
machine on a large platform made of cork, and swam out into the harbour
under cover of darkness. When he reached the vessels that he had marked
out, he fixed his apparatus to their rudders. A number of further
successes were recorded, and numerous Allied shells failed to reach the
guns for which they had been destined.

With the help of Fay's new invention, which we used not only in New
York, but in other ports, we were able to give our undertaking a new
turn. What the incendiary bombs could not achieve was reserved for Fay's
machines. The number of transports had, however, increased nearly
tenfold since we first began our work, and as it was impossible to
interfere with them all, we had to find a new inspiration.

I read in the newspaper one morning that some of the New York dockers
had gone on strike. I knew that strikes had been breaking out
periodically on account of wage demands, but that they did not last
long, because they were not sanctioned by the unions.

I made inquiries about the general situation and learned that the
dockworkers of New York and the other ports in the United States were to
a great extent Irishmen, who vented their hatred of England in
occasional strikes in order to do what they could to hinder the shipping
of munitions. They hoped that their country would be able to free itself
from the domination of England, if the latter lost the War; and to that
end they were prepared to do everything that lay in their power.

All the strikes which were started for this or other reasons were
illegal and had no prospect of success, for Samuel Gompers, the
President of the American Federation of Labour, was very pro-English and
had no intention of sanctioning a strike which would injure England. For
some time other trade union leaders had been attacking Gompers' attitude
to the question of prohibiting the export of armaments, but they were
unable to do any good, since Gompers adhered tenaciously to his
principle that the export of armaments should not be forbidden.

The American unions split into two parties on the question. Some of them
supported Gompers, while others did not hesitate to stigmatise Gompers
openly at their meetings as an agent in the pay of England, and gave him
the nickname, "The Fifteen Thousand Dollar Man." It was only the unions
that possessed strike funds, and therefore they alone could proclaim a
strike with any prospect of success. An idea occurred to me which struck
me at first as being fantastic, and that was to found my own "union." A
union which was properly registered could proclaim a legal strike, and
the law could not interfere. If, in addition, we could pay strike
benefits, it might be possible to achieve Something, and I certainly had
the money to do so.

I had to set to work very cautiously and get in touch with the workmen's
leaders. The moment it was known that I was a German staging a strike
for the sole purpose of injuring his country's enemies, my scheme was
bound to come to grief. I could not hope that the leaders would follow
me, if I explained my true reasons to them; so I had recourse to a
stratagem. I was already acquainted with a few of the less important
trade union leaders, men of Irish extraction, and some who were

They believed me to be an American, and I succeeded in carrying them
with me in a way that did not arouse their suspicions. They were all of
the opinion, in any case, that the sending of explosives to Europe was
reprehensible, and held the point of view that it could not be in the
interest of the workers in other countries to supply munitions with
which their brothers were to be shot down. They swore by the Workers'
International and disapproved, on moral and ethical grounds, of the
export of arms. I must admit to having deluded these men, but I was an
officer in the German Navy and could not be particular as to the means I
employed in the situation in which I found myself. Therefore I did not
lift my mask, but pretended to adopt their views and to speak their

The first thing I did was to hire a large hall and organise a meeting,
at which well-known men thundered against the export of munitions.
Messrs. Buchanan and Fowler, members of Congress; Mr, Hannis Taylor, the
former American Ambassador in Madrid; Mr. Monnett, a former Attorney
General; together with a number of University professors, theologians
and Labour leaders appeared and raised their voices. I sat unobtrusively
in a corner and watched my plans fructifying. None of the speakers had
the faintest suspicion that he was in the "service" of a German officer
sitting among the audience. They knew the men who had asked them to
speak, but had no idea that the strings were being pulled by somebody

On the following day I met the German-American and Irish trade union
leaders, who took me for a wealthy American interested in the
humanitarian aspect, and willing to make financial sacrifices for his
ideals. We took a mighty step forward and founded a new trade union
which we called "Labour's National Peace Council." Of course, I was not
a member of the union, but I had brought with me to the preliminary
meeting a trustworthy sailor of German origin who had become a docker
for the sole purpose of being eligible for membership of the union. I
managed to secure for him a position of authority; and the union, which
as yet possessed leaders but no rank and tile, set to work.

My intention was no less ambitious than to enrol a large proportion of
the American dock-workers in the new union. If I could achieve this, I
should have the power to declare a strike that would cause great damage
to the Allies. My hope that members would stream in from every side
appeared, however, doomed to disappointment. Not a single recruit turned
up. Gompers and his people laughed hilariously at my union, with its
office near the docks, and well-known men among its leaders, but only a
few members. Though the subscription was unusually low, it seemed that
it would be a fiasco.

I began to despair of success, but one morning, when I was immersed in
gloom, Weiser, who of course was co-operating with me, telephoned me
from the docks to come to the headquarters of the union as soon as
possible and bring money. He would give me details later. I rushed to
the docks with the necessary funds, and when I got near the office I saw
some groups of excited stevedores standing about.

Weiser came to me and told me what was happening. It appeared that an
unauthorised strike, provoked by a couple of Irishmen, had broken out
among the men loading shells on a vessel that was destined for Russia.
They demanded extra pay on account of the danger involved in their work,
and insisted that the British agents, who were guarding the Russian
transport and were carrying carbines, should be dismissed.

Before the negotiations had concluded, the Irish had ceased work, and
the men were standing about and giving vent to curses and abuse. They
could not make up their minds whether to remain on strike or to resume.
Nearly the whole of the rank and file of our little union was engaged on
the steamer; and as it was part of our programme to oppose the munition
shipments, the men came to the office and explained why they had struck.
They asked for strike pay, but merely as a formality, and apparently
without any expectation that they would receive it, or that the strike
would be sanctioned.

When Weiser heard what they had to say, he immediately telephoned to me,
while the agent whom I had managed to get on to the executive put the
men off for the time being and telephoned to all the other leaders of
the union. These arrived almost at the same time as I did, but I was no
longer there, for I had handed over my money and disappeared, so as not
to excite suspicion.

Subsequent events became the talk of the docks that evening. The almost
incredible news spread like wildfire among the stevedores. The leaders
of my union had met, but were very pessimistic and declared that the
strike was utter nonsense, for the treasury was empty, and our few
members formed an insignificant minority. My agent took the floor,
however, and assured them that though, of course, our numerical strength
was absurdly low, yet it was necessary to act logically if we were to
carry out our programme. We were opposed to the munition shipments and
we must not expect our members to engage in the work. The only reply was
a pitying smile from the other leaders, who asked where the strike pay
was coming from.

"I made a collection after the meeting, and soon I had twenty-five
thousand dollars," declared our agent, and put the money on the table.

This was different, and the matter began to assume another aspect. With
twenty-five thousand dollars in the treasury it was possible to sanction
the strike and pay benefits.

My agent proceeded skilfully. He seized control without the others
noticing it, and after an hour's discussion "Labour's National Peace
Council" declared an official strike. Weiser ran to the nearest bank
like a man accustomed to changing one thousand dollar notes, and on his
return addressed the stevedores and told them to come into the office
one at a time. My agent also emerged and announced that the union
recognised the justice of its members' demands and sanctioned the
strike. Benefits for the ensuing week would, of course, be paid out

The workmen were overjoyed at the unexpected news. They thought it a
very fine union to belong to and came in to receive their money. As they
passed the steamer, where some of the men had already resumed work, they
sang the praises of their union in loud tones, and then went to look for
another job, as far as possible from the docks.

That evening I had a long conference with my agent, Max Weiser, and
Captain von Kleist, who took over the conduct of the "attack." The
result of this conference appeared next morning, when a large placard
was hung outside the office announcing that new members would be
welcomed. The union had, of course, always been ready to accept new
members, but they had been slow in arriving and the placard had a
particular significance at this juncture.

Kleist and Weiser were busy in the vicinity of the pier at Hoboken, and
the news was spread that "Labour's National Peace Council National Peace
Council" was prepared to pay strike benefits to all men ceasing work on
munition transports, even if they had only been members for a day; and
before many hours had passed, a flock of workmen poured in, who paid
their entrance subscriptions and immediately disappeared. Next morning
they came back and said they had ceased work because their employers
refused to pay them the extra wages they demanded on account of the
danger of their duties.

They received their strike pay, and when I passed by later in the
afternoon I saw an astonishing sight. A vast crowd was thronging the
office, and I estimated that at least a thousand men were waiting to pay
their subscriptions. I found Max Weiser, who was thoroughly excited and
bellicose to a degree. He told me that all these men had come to join
the union, so I went to my bank and got more money. I had sufficient to
pay strike benefits for some time, and I knew that when my capital ran
out, a cable to Germany would replenish my coffers.

By the following day about fifteen hundred dockers were on strike in New
York Harbour, and a few days later not a single munition transport was
being loaded. Victory was in sight, but I had reckoned without the
defensive forces of American finance. At the moment when I had brought
the loading in New York Harbour to a standstill, the members of my union
executive were travelling in all directions. They established branches
in other ports, organised meeting after meeting, and proclaimed strikes
everywhere. I sat in my own office, and telegrams, of course in cipher,
landed on my desk by the score. Those of my men who had formerly been
engaged in placing bombs, a business which we were for the time being
compelled to neglect, were now working for the union, and collecting
information from the various ports.

I wired money to all the centres, to be used for propagandist literature
and the hiring of halls. A series of strikes broke out in the United
States, which made the leaders of the older unions grow pale. Their
members were leaving them in large numbers and coming over to us, while
the American Press seized with amazement and indignation upon the
strange phenomenon which nobody could understand. A movement had been
started the end of which could not be foreseen. Boniface turned up again
and hired a gang of wild characters, who pretended to be sailors and
cried themselves hoarse at the meetings, where they grew pally with the

Our success in the other ports was instantaneous. Transport after
transport lay idle and could not be loaded. There arose a state of
affairs which, in the words of the American Press, cried to heaven. The
newspapers began to print cables from Europe to the effect that the
delay in sending explosives would be catastrophic for the Allies, and I
prayed that this might really come to pass.

At the same time the local leaders of my union began to bombard
President Wilson with hundreds of telegrams, which came from all the
cities and ports in the country and were financed by me, petitioning for
a law against the export of armaments. I heard that Gompers had hastened
with his friends to Wilson and had been received. I therefore caused the
President to be snowed under with telegrams from all sides, demanding
that the leaders of our union should also be received. He at last agreed
to see a deputation on June 15th, and our hopes ran high, for we had
reason to expect that the President would bow to the power of our union.
He telegraphed, however, on the day before the interview to take place,
that he could not receive our leaders, since he was staying in the
country. The Washington atmosphere was getting "too close" for him.

The armament industry mobilised for defence at the same time that Wilson
gave his evasive answer. I again had the feeling that I was being
watched. The authorities were after me, but I took precautions.

More serious was the fact that we began to lose ground. The men were
returning to work. Our union was still on strike, but the older
organisations were managing to mobilise their members, and we were
unable to persuade them to join our ranks, since they were being paid
high bonuses as strike-breakers. We soon found out that the armament
firms had poured millions of dollars into the treasuries of the older
unions; and Gompers and his friends were living in trains and
motor-cars, travelling about the whole country to organise the
counter-blow. The fight cost me an enormous amount of money, but I was
unwilling to capitulate to Gompers.

When on opponents had succeeded in getting work started once more, I
surprised them with another stroke. I had so far only been engaged in
staging these dock strikes, but I now extended my activities. We
likewise went on our travels, this time at the suggestion of the
Austrian Ambassador, Dr. Dumba; and at the moment when Gompers saw
victory in sight, employees of the greatest armament factory in the
United States, the Bethlehem Steel Works, suddenly laid down tools. They
were mostly Austrian and Hungarian subjects.

So the fight went on, and ground was lost and won again. Ultimate
success would be a matter of money and nerves; and for the time being,
at any rate, we were in good spirits.

Meanwhile I had another iron in the fire. I had studied the foreign
political situation of the United States, and realised that the only
country she had to fear was Mexico. If Mexico attacked her she would
need all the munitions she could manufacture, and would be unable to
export any to Europe. There was, however, no prospect of this, since
Mexico was torn by internal dissensions. Huerta, the former president,
was in exile, though I knew that he still hoped to regain his lost
position. He ascribed his fall to the United States, which he suspected
of having fomented the revolution which had brought him to grief. While
he was still in power, American capital had made further attempts to
gain possession of Mexico's oil, but had met with resistance from
Huerta, which was only broken down when the revolution sent him into

This was the situation when I decided to take a hand in the game. I
learned that Huerta was in the United States and made every effort to
find where he was staying. He suddenly turned up in New York, and I went
to his hotel, the Manhattan, to see him. On my way I pondered how to
approach him, but could not think of any plan, and decided to rely on my
instinct. He was sitting alone in the lounge and was surprised to be
addressed by a complete stranger. When I looked into his eyes I realised
at once the best way to approach him. I told him I was a German officer,
mentioned the munition transports, and offered him my help there and
then. I expressed my readiness to do all I could to bring his party into
power again in Mexico.

Though I gave my reasons for visiting him, he was afraid of a trap and
thought I might be an American agent. He remained silent, and I made
every effort to convince him that I really was a German officer, and not
in the pay of the United States. At last he believed me and was prepared
to speak frankly. He told me that another revolution was being
engineered by his friends, but that they lacked weapons, or, in other
words, money.

The interview lasted a long time. I was in a position to offer him
effective help, and we discussed what was to be done if the new
revolution should be crowned with success. This was a matter of the
utmost importance to me, and we came to terms. Huerta stipulated that I
should procure the sanction of the German Government to the following
conditions: German U-boats were to land weapons along the Mexican coast;
abundant funds were to be provided for the purchase of armaments; and
Germany should agree to furnish Mexico with moral support.

In that eventuality Mexico would take up arms against the United States,
and Huerta would have his revenge. This desire for revenge,
incidentally, seemed to me to be Huerta's driving motive. After the
interview I sent a cable report to Berlin.

* * * * *

As I left the hotel I caught sight of two familiar faces. They were
those of detectives who had frequently shadowed me in the past. I
remained in the vicinity of the hotel until I saw Huerta come out,
followed by two men, who were apparently guarding him. I went after them
in order to make sure. Huerta entered a car, and the two detectives
stopped a taxi and followed. There was no longer room for doubt that our
interview had been observed.

On the same day another disturbing incident occurred; for when I
returned to my office, still somewhat agitated at my disconcerting
discovery, I found Mr. Boniface sitting there with his legs crossed and
very depressed. I was by no means pleasantly surprised when he told me
that he had extremely disagreeable news.

"Cut it short, Mr. Boniface," I begged. "I have already had enough
amusement for one day."

My eyes grew wide with astonishment, however, when he told me a story
that I was at first disinclined to believe. He had found out, with the
help of his shady but very valuable connections, that the "Most Secret
Code" of the German Embassy had been stolen. British agents had got a
girl to make up to a young and badly-paid secretary on the staff of the
Naval Attaché. The two had become very friendly, and she had persuaded
him that it was absurd to exist on a wretched pittance, when he was in a
position to earn a fortune with a single stroke. He had agreed to do
what she asked of him, and had communicated the immensely important code
to her, and therefore to the British. He was said to have made a copy
and to have restored the original carefully to its place, which
evidently was but poorly guarded.

This "leak" in the office of the Attachés was naturally reported to me
at once from another source. It had become known at Washington and was
actually under discussion at a Cabinet meeting.

I was very upset. It was the code that I had brought with me from the
Admiralty in Berlin for the use of the Embassy, because it was suspected
that the old code was in the hands of the enemy. I thanked Boniface for
his information and sent him away. I then went immediately to the Naval
Attaché, though it seemed to me unlikely that the code could have been
accessible to a Secretary, since there was a regulation which prohibited
the trusting of a cipher to a lower official. When I was shown in to the
Naval Attaché, I said:

"Do you know that the 'Most Secret Code' has gone, Sir?"

Captain Boy-Ed exploded:

"Who says so? Impossible! It is kept here under lock and key."

_"Always,_ Captain?"

"Of course, I haven't the time to lock up every code myself. That is
done by one of the secretaries."

"In Berlin no one under the rank of captain is allowed to put away a
secret code."

"Excuse me. That is my own concern."

This interview convinced me that the code had really been stolen. I had
a presentiment of misfortune, but I could not yet know what fateful
consequences this was going to have for me. It was as well that I did

* * * * *

There ensued some weeks of waiting for the reply to my message to
Berlin, and I was on tenterhooks to hear whether I could agree to
Huerta's terms. I came into frequent contact with him during this time,
and always found him in excellent humour at the turn his country's
fortunes were about to take.

Meanwhile I was preparing a scheme of a very different kind. Sir Roger
Casement, the Irish leader, had turned up in Berlin before I left, where
he revealed the true situation in Ireland to the Wilhelmstrasse and to
the public. They had hitherto believed that all the Irish were enemies
of England and prepared to shake off her yoke, but they now learned that
there was a very important Protestant group in Northern Ireland, the
so-called Ulster Party, with powerful leaders, which was absolutely
loyal to Great Britain, and even desired the support of English bayonets
against the more numerous Catholics of the South.

The militant Irish, who were being supported to the uttermost, both
morally and materially, by the enormous number of Irish immigrants in
the United States, all came from the South. Sir Roger Casement was one
of their most prominent leaders, and it was their object to detach
Ireland as a whole from Great Britain and force the Northern minority to
come into a newly constituted Free State. Casement's purpose was clear.
He had first of all to make it possible for the Southern Irish to
overcome the Ulstermen; for in the case of a revolt against England they
would have to reckon with armed resistance from the North.

Though Casement was in Berlin, the German capital was an unfavourable
centre from which to spin the threads of political intrigue; for Germany
was surrounded by foes and was suffering the disadvantages of the strict
blockade which the latter had imposed.

I was by now acquainted with some of the Irish leaders who had
established an "Activist Committee" in New York. I could not deal with
them as I had dealt with Huerta, so I pretended to be a wealthy man with
a strong personal dislike of England, and ready to help them. I only
played this rôle, however, at the beginning, keeping it up until I had
convinced myself that the people at the head of the Irish Independence
Movement in America were of a character to ensure that something would
be done. I dropped my mask when I thoroughly understood their aims and

When they discovered that they were in league with a German naval
officer they really did have scruples about accepting my aid, but these
were soon dispersed, since their hatred of England was so fierce, their
rage so inflamed, and their desire to attack the detested country so
irrepressible, that we soon came to terms.

A revolt in Ireland had only been prevented hitherto by the fact that
insufficient arms were available, and the circumstance that Sir Roger
Casement was away in Berlin. They did not think that they could afford
to dispense with the advantages with which his popularity would furnish
them when the rising took place. There was also justified anxiety about
the intervention of English warships, which could easily land troops
anywhere on the Irish coast.

I began to take a hand in the Irish question. After communication with
Berlin I was able to make positive proposals to the malcontents. They
lacked rifles and munitions. Very well! These were to be had in
abundance in America. There were enough ships sailing to Ireland from
American ports; and if the factories could pack rifle ammunition in
barrels and declare it was flour, it could equally well be done in the
case of vessels going to Ireland. This problem offered no great

The question of naval intervention on the Irish coast was much more
serious, and constituted one of the chief anxieties of the Irish
committee in New York; but at one of their meetings I put the German
Government's reply on the table. The Admiralty was prepared to send
U-boats to the Irish coast which would lie hidden until the opportunity
arrived to put a spoke in the British Navy plans for landing men.

When my Irish friends looked up from this document, I saw in their eyes
the desperate resolve to commence hostilities. They made their
arrangements with their home country, and I made mine with Berlin, and a
day was fixed for the rising to take place in Dublin, which was to
spread throughout the whole of Ireland.

Either one or two days before, I do not remember exactly, Casement was
to be put ashore on the Irish coast from a U-boat, and Germany, in order
to exploit the opportunity as far as possible, was prepared to land
troops carrying machine-guns from an auxiliary cruiser sailing alone. So
I had plenty to do in the meantime.

I was still waiting for the answer from Berlin which was to sanction my
conspiracy with Huerta. It arrived eventually, and informed me that
money was being held for the day when Mexican troops would be ready to
commence hostilities against America, and that German submarines and
auxiliary cruisers would appear on the Mexican coast to lend their
support. It appeared to be a matter of ultimate indifference to Germany
whether the United States maintained her secret enmity by supplying
munitions to the Allies, or came openly into the War on their side.

On receiving the German Government's reply I drove to the Manhattan
Hotel, but Huerta was not there. I learned from one of his friends that
he was expected back in New York at any moment; so I waited. He had gone
to the Mexican frontier to discuss matters with his party; but though I
waited and waited, he did not return. I sent my agents out to search for
him throughout America, but they could not discover a trace. Though I
mobilised all my forces, the difficulty of finding one man in such a
large country was enormous.

Boniface came to me one day, and I told him that Huerta must be
discovered at all costs. He thought that the American Federal Police
must know his whereabouts, since they were probably shadowing him as an
enemy of the States. Some days went by without news, and I was very
worried, since I was anxious to see the ripening of the seeds I had
sown. One evening, as I was returning from a social function, I was
walking along in evening-dress to find a taxi, when a man passed me from
behind with a swift step. I took no notice of him, but suddenly heard
the words:

"You are being watched. Look out! Don't wait for Huerta. He has been

I kept my control and followed the man with my eyes. I recognised the
gait of Mr. Boniface. When I got into my taxi I was followed by a second
car. Boniface was right. I was being watched. Later I heard that Huerta
had been poisoned by his cook in a country house on the Mexican border,
though no details of his death were ever made public. What actually
became of him, I never found out.

Though I was aware that the police were on my track I resolved to hold
out. I had always been so careful that they could have no direct and
clear proof that I had had a finger in so many "shady" transactions.
When I entered my bank next morning, the official who always attended to
my business--he was a German, knew my identity, and had often helped
me--beckoned to me and gave me a letter. I read the address and grew
pale. On the envelope were the words, "_Herrn_ _Kapitänleutnant
Rintelen, Hochwohlgeboren."_

The official whispered to me that the letter had arrived by post, and
that there had been considerable excitement at the bank at the discovery
that a German officer had a very large account through which enormous
sums were being passed. Was the letter a trap? I decided to open it
nevertheless, and saw it _was_ from the Military Attaché of the Embassy.
I was furious at his thoughtlessness and stupidity in addressing me in
such a fashion. Or was it done deliberately?

I had not time, however, to yield to gloomy forebodings, for I was in
the thick of activities whose threads met in my hands. Responsibility
lay heavy on my shoulders. In spite of Huerta's death I tried to get the
Mexican affair going again, and I was still absorbed in my plans when,
on the morning of July 6th, 1915, an attendant came to me in the
breakfast-room of the New York Yacht Club and gave me a message to ring
up a certain number. The Naval Attaché was at the other end of the
telephone, and he asked me to meet him at a particular street corner.
When I arrived he handed me a telegram, which ran as follows:

"To the Naval Attaché at the Embassy. Captain Rintelen is to be informed
unobtrusively that he is under instructions to return to Germany."

What was that? Had I not, but a few weeks ago, distinctly asked
Headquarters in Berlin not to cable my name at all, but to send me in
writing, in a carefully considered way, their reply to my most recent
suggestion?--the suggestion that we should now proceed to buy up, in a
guarded fashion, the majority of shares in such American corporations as
were, under their own charter, not supposed to engage in the manufacture
of ammunition or accessories. That appeared, after all, quite a good
scheme, one which might have thrown a wedge into the machinery of Yankee
munitions- and money-making.

Many years later--when I finally came home from this "Odyssey"--as
late as 1921, _Anno Domini_, I learned that this suggestion had met with
the approval of all and sundry in Berlin, even with that of the
President of the Reichsbank, Dr. Havenstein, but was opposed
by--Bethmann Hollweg!

I could not understand why this telegram had been sent to me, and only
knew that if I obeyed it immediately, I should leave things in frightful
confusion behind me. The Irish were relying on me, our strikes had begun
to boom again, and we were still placing bombs on the transports. All
would now come to an end. I wondered whether I had fallen a victim to
intrigues, such as were usually concerned only with the "big guns" at
home, or possibly to one of the many intrigues which the Baronin
Schröder of the Tiergartenstrasse was so fond of? She kept a political
"salon" in Berlin, where everybody and anybody flocked: Falkenhayn, old
Count Zeppelin and Police-President von Jagow, General Hoffmann, Dr.
Stauss and Erzberger,--and I was a "pet" of hers too; but who knows? For
some two years later she shot herself, after having been "found out" to
have been an all-too-frequent guest at the American Embassy.

Or was I being recalled to Berlin in order to report how matters stood
in America?

At any rate I decided that "obedience," in the loftier sense of the
word, might still admit an appropriate interpretation of the
recall-order, and I therefore wound up my business--unobtrusively,
however, while I calmed my friends and helpmates with the assurance that
within four weeks I should be "on the job" again, for I was convinced I
could run the British blockade and pass to and fro at my convenience.

The word "fear" did not and does not exist in my vocabulary; so danger
or no danger, the journey _had_ to be made, for I was a German officer
and had to obey orders. I fetched out my Swiss passport and managed to
obtain a letter of recommendation to Count Ignatieff, the Russian
Military Attaché in Paris. He was, as I have said, a celebrated
connoisseur of claret, and I soon had documents printed to provide
evidence that I was a Swiss citizen travelling to France from the United
States to purchase wines.

Now that I was about to leave the shores of America I felt like taking a
carbolic bath.

A Guest at Donington Hall

I Again became E. V. Gaché from Solothurn, and booked a passage on the
_Noordam,_ of the Holland-American Line. Accompanying me was a man whom
I had engaged to help me during the crossing. He was a genuine American
citizen and appeared in public as my friend.

I went on board full of despair at the thought of the work I had left
unfinished; and as we left New York Harbour in the evening twilight I
tortured myself with the mystery of the telegram which had ordered me to
return. My companion pulled me out of the depression into which I had
fallen, by announcing that he was hungry and it was time for dinner.

He was powerfully built and had crossed the ocean more than once to give
advice to the German Government. He had hit upon a splendid idea which
gave him time to think when anyone addressed him unawares. He pretended
to be stone deaf and always carried a gigantic ear-trumpet about with
him. Every question had to be thundered into the trumpet, and this
enabled him to prepare his answers. We descended to the dining-room and
I ordered a bottle of wine to disperse my unenviable thoughts.

As I looked round I received a dreadful shock. Sitting at a table
opposite was a man whom I had known well in Berlin and had often met at
dances, Count Limburg-Stirum, of the Dutch branch of the family. I must
have grown pale, for my companion whispered:

"What's the matter?"

Limburg-Stirum had already crossed over to greet me, and asked: "Do you
think you are going to get across safely?"

I registered astonishment and replied:

"Why not?"

"Well, after all, you are a German!"

"I? A German? Good heavens, I am a Swiss. In those days I was attached
to the Swiss Legation in Berlin."

Limburg-Stirum looked at me in amazement. He hung round me during the
whole crossing. He had of course seen my name "E. V. Gaché" on the door
of my cabin and at my place at table, but he was certain that that had
not been my name when he knew me in Berlin. Every time I saw him I had
an odd feeling that he was going to remember just at that moment who I
was, so I kept out of his way.

The good ship _Noordam_ continued her voyage, and at last the chalk
cliffs of England lay to port. I gazed at them with mixed feelings. It
took a whole day to pass them, and I found it necessary to visit the bar
at intervals to fortify myself. The chalk cliffs still lay on our left,
when early in the morning, at seven o'clock on Friday, August 13th, as I
was lying in my bath, a steward knocked at the door, and said:

"Some British officers wish to have a word with you."

This was the darkest moment of my life!

Nobody who had done what I considered it my duty to do in America, and
was in possession of a forged passport, would have been anxious to
converse with British officers opposite the white cliffs of England.
Certainly not before breakfast. But I had no alternative. These
gentlemen desired to speak with me, and there was no possibility of
avoiding their welcome. I put my head outside and listened. The officers
were not inspecting the other passengers, but had inquired exclusively
for me, and I can truthfully say that it made an impression on me. I had
an immediate intuition that I was discovered, and the only thing that
could help me now was "bluff."

I went on deck in my bath-robe and found two officers and ten sailors
with fixed bayonets waiting for me. "You are Mr. Gaché?"

"Yes. What can I do for you?"

"We have orders to take you with us."

"I have no intention of disembarking here. I am going to Rotterdam."

"I am sorry. If you refuse, we have orders to take you by force."

"If you threaten me with force I have no alternative, as a Swiss
citizen, but to follow you. Before I leave the boat, however, I demand
the right to telegraph to the Minister of my country in London. In any
case, I must dress and, above all, have breakfast. I am sure you will

"How much time do you need?"

"About two hours."

"All right. We shall return at nine-thirty."

Punctually at nine-thirty the British escort came on board again and
politely requested the Swiss gentleman to enter a steam pinnace. I was
then taken on board a British auxiliary cruiser, where I was kept for
three days. Morning, afternoon, and evening there was a bottle of
champagne available in the captain's cabin, presented by the British
officers to keep the Swiss citizen, whom they all pitied so, in a good

One evening one of the officers poured his heart out to me. He told me
that he had been Consul in Karlsbad for seven years, knew all the German
dialects, and could tell whether a man was justified or not in claiming
to be a "neutral." He was tired of being the scapegoat every time a
neutral traveller had to be put through the mill on his way up the
Channel. He was completely fed-up. "But," he said, "there is a fellow
sitting in London who never gives up, and when we capture a neutral, we
have to carry out our job as best we can. Just imagine! There's an old
bear with a sore head in charge of the Department, and he's got a fixed
idea that every neutral is suspect."

"Who is he?"

"Admiral Hall."

On the last day of my stay on board the cruiser I was subjected to a
surprise. I was confronted with my deaf American friend, who had also
been taken off the Noordam as a suspicious character. He was being
questioned on deck by an officer, who pointed at me.

"Wait a minute," cried my friend. With slow and deliberate movements he
began to extract his great ear-trumpet from his case. The electric
battery failed to function at once, so he turned a few screws and said
to the officer: "Excuse me just a moment." He then applied the trumpet
to his ear and roared:

"What did he say?"

The officer saw his great confrontation scene ruined, and turned
crustily away without deigning to reply. My friend shouted to me:

"What are these people saying?" and then proceeded to run about the
deck, as he fiddled with his ear-trumpet, and to call out continually to
the officers on the bridge: "What do you want of me? What's that you

It was easy for him, since he had a genuine passport and nothing much to
fear. My position was more serious.

We were taken ashore at Ramsgate. We were examined, our papers were
inspected, we were re-examined, and our papers once more inspected, and
in the interval we were taken with great courtesy by car to an hotel and
invited to tea. In the lounge I saw a man, a waiter, whom I had seen
before somewhere, and I suddenly remembered. He had been at the Hotel
Bristol in Berlin, where I used to be a frequent visitor. As we drank
our tea I informed my deaf friend in a whisper of my disturbing

"That makes another old friend we've met," he complained. "Can't we go
anywhere in the world without meeting somebody you know?"

We returned to headquarters.

"Please show your passports again for inspection."

"Yes, of course. Passport inspection."

We entered the room, and stationed in the corner I saw the waiter from
the Bristol. I told myself to keep cool. The officer in charge, the Rt.
Hon. Dudley Ward, M.P., a very eminent man, put to me the same questions
that I had had to answer in the morning.

Suddenly a shrill voice, full of hate and fury, broke in from the

"Don't talk such rubbish! You are Captain Rintelen from Berlin."

I did not move an eyelash, for I had caught sight of the man in time,
but calmly replied to the officer's question. A man talking nonsense in
the corner had nothing to do with me! It was a pity there were such
ill-bred people about.

The man roared again:

"You stop that! You are the German Captain Rintelen. I've known you for
a long time."

It would have been suspicious if I had continued to take no notice, so I
turned round towards him and said in astonishment: "What's that?"

My deaf friend joined in and shouted, as he fixed his ear-trumpet:

"What's the man saying? What does he want of me? Or is he talking to

His trumpet being by now adjusted, I thundered down it:

"There's somebody saying that I am..." I turned to the waiter. "What was
the name? Will you spell it, please?"

An alphabetic pandemonium broke loose, and there was grotesque confusion
between the English _a_ and the German _e._ The name I shouted into the
American's trumpet was one that had never existed. The sounds were all
distorted, and we got thoroughly mixed up, until at last the American
packed his trumpet into its case and said angrily: "I've had enough."

To which I replied: "There are always ill-bred people in this world who
insist on interfering with bona fide travellers."

The officer motioned the waiter, who was a Belgian, out of the room with
an impatient gesture, then went to the telephone and reported that a
mistake seemed to have been made. To our astonishment and my boundless
joy we were allowed to return to the _Noordam._ Our luggage was already
on board, and the Fatherland beckoned.

As the pinnace approached the ship, the British officer stationed on it
called through his megaphone: "Turn back!"

When we were on shore again, I was separated from my companion and taken
by train, under the escort of a detective and a naval officer, to
London, where, to my amazement, I was driven to Scotland Yard. The storm
was about to burst.

We entered a building like a castle, and crossed a courtyard to a wide,
curved staircase. Through broad corridors instilling an atmosphere of
peaceful dignity we came to a door which opened suddenly and admitted us
to a room occupied by a group of naval officers in gold-encrusted
uniforms. It was not long before I learned that two of them, who wore
the _aiguillettes_ of royal aides-de-camp, were Admiral Sir Reginald
Hall, the Chief of the British Naval Intelligence Service, and his
right-hand man, Lord Herschell. To the left of the fireplace stood a
heavy table, behind which sat the Chief of the C.I.D., Sir Basil
Thomson, wearing horn-rimmed spectacles.

This pleasant gathering in my honour offered exciting prospects. They
all sat there and bored me through with malevolent eyes. Admiral Hall
stood up.

"Do you know a Captain Rintelen?"

"I am not obliged to answer you."

Sir Basil Thomson:

"You apparently do not know where you are!"

"Wherever I am, I have been brought by force. I have no business here
and I shall not reply to any questions until I have spoken with the
Minister of my country. Or am I, perhaps, to be charged with a crime?"

Sir Basil Thomson:

"You are a German and have to explain why you are on English soil."

"I did not land on English soil of my own free will. I was brought here
by force in violation of all justice."

My reply caused a great uproar. Hall and Thomson grew irritated, while I
pretended to get angry and, keeping faithfully to my rôle, began to
shout that I protested against the whole proceedings and demanded to be
taken to the Swiss Minister. I insisted on this right, until they
actually became uncertain of their case.

But my faithful "A.D.C.," the naval officer who had accompanied me from
Ramsgate, promptly bet me a sovereign that I shouldn't even be admitted.
By the way, he paid up like a gentleman--after the War!

The meeting broke up, and I was informed that I should be escorted at
once to the Swiss Legation. The Minister, M. Gaston Carlin, was a
dignified old gentleman, tall and with white hair, and he spoke to me in

"Now, tell me," he said, "what this is all about. I was unable to do
anything when your telegram arrived, since I was away for the week-end.
What do the English want with you? I have heard from my office that your
passports and military papers are in order, but the English maintain
obstinately that you are the German Captain Rintelen. Can you explain
how they conceived the idea?"

I decided to risk a great bluff.

"I can disclose it to you, Your Excellency," I said. "Captain Rintelen
really was on the boat, but the British have got hold of the wrong man.
The _Noordam,_ as I have read in _The Times,_ has already reached
Rotterdam, and the German officer, whom I did not want to betray to the
English, is far away by now. You see, Your Excellency, my sympathies are
with Germany. I spent my boyhood there, and you will remember that my
father was Swiss Consul at Leipzig."

"Oh, yes! I remember your father. Your attitude has been quite correct."

He came from behind his desk and stretched out his hand.

"Accept my thanks for your truly neutral conduct." He telephoned in my
presence to the Admiralty and communicated the disconcerting solution of
the mystery, after which my escort took me back to Admiral Hall.
Everybody was foaming with rage at having let the German captain slip
through their hands, but the Admiral, who alone remained perfectly calm,
came up to me and said:

"So you are _not_ Rintelen?"

"I gave all explanations to my Minister." Nevertheless I was not
immediately set at liberty. I was to be kept in custody until the
evening of the following day, and should then be allowed to resume my
journey. Two "adjutants" were attached to me, a naval commander and a
detective, and I took up my quarters at the Hotel Cecil. I felt that the
battle was won, and ordered a drink. Nothing could happen to me, and I
only had to wait for the settling of a few formalities. I began to
wonder how soon I could be in Berlin.

My two companions sat in the adjoining room, with the communicating door
ajar, so that they might keep an eye on me and see that I did not
escape. I walked to and fro and heard them conversing. Suddenly a remark
was dropped which made me prick up my ears and listen intently:

"...a special inquiry in Berne by the British Legation?"

"Yes. It isn't merely a consular matter. Admiral Hall has specially
asked the Legation to find out whether it is possible that Emile Gaché
is now in London." I had heard enough to know that my position was
serious, that I had lost the fight, when a minute before I had been
convinced that I had won. I raged round the room. The Legation in Berne
was bound to discover that the real Emile Gaché was living in
Switzerland and could not now be in London. When the English knew that,
I should be in a hole.

I reasoned as follows: as I had been the only passenger, with the
exception of the American, to be examined and taken off the boat, they
must be aware that I had embarked on the _Noordam_ in New York, and if
they knew that they must possess information concerning what I had been
doing in America. That meant that a blow had been struck against us in
the United States, which I had only escaped by my departure. When the
answer arrived from Berne, I should be regarded as a civilian and sent
back to America in custody, where a disagreeable welcome would await me.

Whatever happened, they would not let me go, so it was better to be a
prisoner of war than to be sent to an American jail. After I had rapidly
reviewed the situation on, I knocked at the door and said to one of my

"Excuse me. Is it possible to have a word with Admiral Hall at once?"

"I don't think so. What do you want? Is it so urgent?"

"Yes, it is. Admiral Hall will be highly interested in what I have to
say to him."

"Well, tell me then."

"No. I cannot do that. I must speak to the Admiral himself."

He went to the telephone. It was already eight in the evening, but the
Admiral was still in his office and prepared to receive me at once. Rain
was streaming down as we crossed the courtyard of the Admiralty. Hall
was standing in his room, and asked:

"What brings you here at so late an hour?"

I stood to attention:

"I surrender."

"What do you mean? We have just wired to Berne on your account..."

"That is why I have come. It is no longer necessary."

"What does all this mean?"

"Captain Rintelen begs to report to you, sir, as a prisoner of war."

The Admiral dropped into his seat. He gazed at me, rocked a little in
his chair, then sprang up and clapped me on the shoulder as he growled
appreciatively: "That was well done." He tore open the door to the
adjoining room, called in Lord Herschell and said: "Let me introduce you
to our latest prisoner of war, Kapitänleutnant von Rintelen!"

Herschell turned on his heel, went into his own office, and returned
with a bottle and three glasses.

"Sit down," he said, "and let's have a cocktail to get over the shock.
You are fond of cocktails, aren't you?"

"What do you mean? How do you know that?" Herschell replied:

"From New York!"

It was growing late, and the two officers proposed that we should dine
together before I was sent to a concentration camp. We drove to a club
to which they both belonged, and entered the dining-room in which a
large number of British officers were sitting.

"I wonder what they'd say if they knew who you were," Herschell

The Admiral selected a table in a corner where we could be alone and
talk quietly. He and Lord Herschell naturally had a lot that they wanted
to ask me, and in order to make me loquacious they told me things which
gave me a thrill of horror as I listened. Certainly they did not reveal
any important secrets. They were only, in their own view, giving me a
few details of the world-embracing activity of the Naval Intelligence
Service, yet it grew clear to me that during the whole of the War we had
undertaken practically nothing without the British Secret Service having
previously acquired information about our intended moves. I spent a long
evening with the two Englishmen and learned much of which I had hitherto
been ignorant.

"You need not have waited so long for that cocktail I gave you at the
Admiralty, Captain," said Lord Herschell.

"So long?"

"We expected you four weeks ago. Our preparations had been made for your
reception, but you took your time. Why did you not leave New York as
soon as you got the telegram?"

What was that? What was he saying? There are times when one cannot trust
one's own ears!

"Beyond a doubt, Kapitänleutnant" Admiral Hall went on, "it will hurt
your feelings as a German officer, but it was not so much the work of
our own agents that you fell into our hands! You may thank your Naval or
Military Attaché for that--whichever of the two it may have been. I
don't know...Were you always in full harmony with--er--Captain von

"What do you mean by that, sir?"

"Still something unpleasant for you to hear. There must be a certain
limit to human recklessness...he wired and wirelessed your name so
often to Berlin in good honest straightforward German that he just
played you into our hands. It seemed almost deliberate..."

I was tongue-tied. I had been betrayed! They seemed to know everything--my
sudden recall...everything.

With an effort I harked back to the earlier topic of conversation.

"I don't get your meaning, Lord Herschell. Which telegram were you
talking about?"

Admiral Hall bent over the table towards me. He pushed his spectacles
aside, looked at me keenly, and said with pointed sarcasm: "We mean the
telegram which you received on July the 6th, that is to say, a month
ago. Captain Boy-Ed met you at the corner of Fifth Avenue and
Forty-fifth Street, where he handed you the wire and--just wait a
minute--I'll read you the text."

He put his hand in his breast pocket and drew out a small packet of
papers, one of which he extracted and, to my astonishment, read out as

"To the German Embassy, for the Naval Attaché. Captain Rintelen is to be
informed unobtrusively that he is under instructions to return to

"What do you say to that?" he asked. "Were we not right in saying that
you took your time?"

A certain macabre humour, which I had managed to retain up till then,
began to desert me.

"Where did you get hold of the telegram, Sir Reginald? How did you get
to know about it? Surely it was in code, wasn't it?"

"It was in code all right, Captain, but we decoded it. As a matter of
fact, we had lost trace of you over there for a couple of weeks, but
when you booked your passage, and then when you embarked on the
_Noordam_--from that moment you were our prisoner," he added rather

I sat back in my chair and involuntarily thought of the day when the
excellent Boniface appeared in my office and gloomily reported that
British agents had copied the German Naval Attachés "Most Secret" G.G.

Hall had been watching me closely.

"We also have in our possession telegrams to Count Spee, the Admiral
commanding the cruiser squadron," remarked Lord Herschell casually, as
if lost in thought.

What was that? Surely Admiral Spee and his squadron had been cornered by
British battle-cruisers as far back as December 8th, 1914. Yet Lord
Herschell was apparently maintaining that the British had intercepted
telegrams to him too. But the theft of the code from the Naval Attaché
had only happened much later. How could the two things be reconciled? I
wanted to know, so proceeded on a little piece of bluff.

"But you only had the code copied long after December 1914!"

Hall shot out at me:

"When did you say we had the code copied?"

It was a trap. He was obviously wanting to find out whether I knew when
and how the code had been copied. I made a rapid calculation. I was a
prisoner of war in England. As such I should certainly find some means
of getting information through to Germany pretty soon. But I had to have
details. Could it do any harm if I told these two officers here and now
that I knew how the code had been stolen? I thought hurriedly: No, it
could harm no one if I ventured on a little fun now.

"Oh, I see," said I. "You mean that affair in New York, when you put
that young woman on to the secretary at the Embassy. Why, every child
has heard of that."

The two of them looked at me somewhat taken aback. Then Hall replied,
grinding the words out slowly through his teeth:

"Every child has heard of that, has it? In that case, can you explain to
me why they are still using this code in Berlin?"

There we had it! A painful silence followed, during which wild ideas
coursed through my brain. I was tormented by horrible suspicions. So
Papen had telegraphed my name quite openly! Was this "child" at the
Embassy really such a horrid "child" as that? Had _he_ had a finger in
this pie? I had long been afraid that it would come to this, though I
had, as a matter of course, sent a written warning to Berlin immediately
after my conversation with the Naval Attaché: "The code is in the
enemy's hands; don't use it any longer for telegraphing. Change it as
quickly as possible." I knew from a certain source that my message had
reached Berlin safely, but apparently nobody had taken any notice of it.
It was enough to make one weep!

The healthy faces of the two Englishmen regained heir serenity, and Hall
went on:

"You gave us no end of trouble at that time, Captain. We had found the
first code; we had fished it out when the cruiser _Magdeburg_ went down
not far from Kronstadt a few days after the beginning of the War. The
captain had thrown it overboard. It was very convenient for us, as we
picked up all telegrams from Berlin to _New_ York until such time as you
went to America bringing a new G.G. Code with you. You had hardly got
there when they started using it. Of course, we had been informed that
you were coming, that you were going to America, and taking a new code
over; all that had been telegraphed to New York, and we had read it.
From that moment we were unable to decipher your people's telegrams any
longer, till we got hold of the new code too."

I was horrified. What damage couldn't the British do to Germany if they
could read the telegrams which were sent all over the world from Berlin!
It simply did not bear thinking about. I clung to one hope: I must and
should find means to get a message through to Germany from my captivity
that the code was no longer secret. But then I went hot and cold all
over, for I had already sent such a message to Germany. They already had
in their possession a written document from me, containing the words:
"For God's sake be careful; the code has leaked out." I had already told
them, so urgent had Boniface's warnings been, and what had happened?
They went on telegraphing in the same code.

If they had neglected my first warning, no doubt my second message would
find its way into the waste-paper basket.

I had just observed the flabbergasted look in the faces of the two
English officers after they had merely learnt from me that I knew that
they had got hold of the code. Yet it must have been obvious to them
that I should not keep this information to myself; that I must have
passed it on to Berlin. All stood to reason; and here were these two men
sitting in front of me unable to conceive how the code could have
continued to be used in spite of this information. I was in despair.
Here was I in a London club, a prisoner of war, with no chance of
shrieking into Berlin's ear:

"Are you bent on committing suicide? Are you blind and deaf? Haven't I
warned you once already? For God's sake throw the beastly code into the

It was ghastly. I forced myself to keep calm; the mischief was out and
seemed bent on taking its course.

Luckily we had got as far as the fortifying port.

"By the way, I was meaning to ask you some more about the telegram to
Admiral von Spee, Lord Herschell," I remarked after a pause, which had
given me time to draw breath after the shattering events of the evening.
In the meantime the port had done its work and pulled me together. Also,
by the mercy of Providence, Herschell was at that moment in the act of
sending an Admiralty message off with the German evening communiqué
which he proceeded to read to us, Admiral Hall and myself, with an
expression of vinegary sweetness on his face:

"The occupation of the outer forts of Grodnö is progressing

"How about the telegram to Count Spee?" I asked him.

"We'll come to that later--at my flat perhaps...It's time we left
here. If you've no objection, we'll just have a whisky and soda at my
place before the military authorities take charge of you. As from
midnight you're in their hands as a prisoner of war."

So we got into his magnificent motor-car and drove to his bachelor flat
in St. James's Street.

I looked round his study with some surprise.

"I expect you know most of these people," Herschell remarked.

"Yes, indeed."

All round the walls and book-cases were dozens of silver framed
photographs of German princes and princesses.

"When one has served for years as a lord-in-waiting..." Herschell
smiled. "And one day peace will break out again between us and their
Highnesses over there."

The present was forgotten and we exchanged memories of the peaceful days
before the War.

Meanwhile Admiral Hall, always chivalrous, had composed a telegram to my
people in Germany, to relieve their minds on the subject of my
"absence."..."I'll hand the telegram in to the American Embassy
to-morrow morning, and the day after your people will know that you're
in good hands," added the Admiral with a grin.

Ten minutes to twelve, damn it!

Lord Herschell sat down at the piano.

"Now's your last chance: what would you like best, my poor friend?"

"The fire music from the _Walküre."_

Fate really had me by the short hairs now. Where was the damned
casualness of this young Military Attaché going to land me now?

Admiral Hall took me by the arm in an almost friendly way.

"I'm afraid we must say good-bye now. There are two gentlemen waiting
for you outside from the Military Police."

A handshake, as I thanked them for such hospitality in the middle of a
war, and I was outside. A quarter of an hour later and I was at the
police station.

* * * * *

That telegram to Count Spee! For years the business tormented me. I
puzzled and worried over it while I was a prisoner of war, and later in
the jails and penitentiaries of America, to which the hard-hearted and
unromantic diplomacy of the British had consigned me when America also
declared war against us. Again and again this one memory bobbed up out
of all had happened to me from my capture in 1915 onwards, and again
after my return from captivity in 1921, at the time of the invasion of
the Ruhr and the inflation, and would not leave me in peace. The
telegram to Count Spee! What was behind it? What was the truth about it?
How often I had racked my brains with this question!

At last, one day towards the end of 1925, when at the request of the
Foreign Office I went to London to fly a very discreet kite and sound
the Admiralty as to the possibility of our sending a Naval Attaché to
the Embassy once more, I sent up my card to Lord Herschell, who had in
the meantime become Lord-in-Waiting-in-Ordinary and had his official
residence in Buckingham Palace.

"His Lordship is spending the Christmas holidays in the Isle of Wight,
at his house at Bembridge," a gold-laced footman informed me.

A couple of days later a charming invitation arrived "to a bowl of punch
in Bembridge, in memory of old days together in the War."

Christmas in the Isle of Wight--a crackling log-fire, blazing
plum-pudding; I did not want to be asked twice!

Through a dense fog, such as one only gets in the Channel--the fog
without which winter in the southwest of England would lose its special
charm--amid the deafening scream of fog-horns, the steamer felt its
way across from Southampton to the Isle of Wight.

Lord Herschell was standing on the pier, of course. The steamer
manoeuvred about for several minutes before it came alongside properly.
We greeted each other like old friends. A strange feeling came over me;
what would this first meeting after the war be like with the furious
person who had insisted on being present at my interview with "my"
Ambassador, way back in August 1915, but had been forced to retire,
spluttering with rage, because that celebrated interview could only take
place _tête-à-tête._

"Hullo, old man!" he called out, and therewith the ice was broken. It
was two old friends that drove through the silent winter landscape this
Christmas of 1925. The trees were glittering with hoar-frost. Thank
heaven his Lordship's motor-car was heated...

"You must make yourself comfortable here," said Lord Herschell. "I
expect they've played some dirty tricks on you since we last met, eh? I
suppose the Yankees took it out of you because they couldn't get hold of
the 'diplomat' Papen. We should have been very glad to send him to join
you in 'jug' over there in 1918, but he ran like a hare in Palestine,
faster than our cavalry...What did they have to say to you in Berlin
when you got back after all those dreary years?"

"Please don't talk to me about Berlin--'grateful' Berlin! They pretend
to know nothing about me there; it's the most convenient way out for
them. I much prefer your sporting hospitality; that leaves me without a
trace of a grudge against you, my dearly-beloved ex-enemy."

It was not till after dinner, after much excellent vintage port, which
loosens a man's tongue so admirably, that I said:

"Now out with it, Herschell."

We had already agreed before dinner over the cocktails to drop the
"Lord" and the "Captain."

"Tell me, Herschell, how did that telegram to Count Spee, the Admiral
commanding our cruiser squadron, come to be sent? That time in 1915,
when we were at the Army and Navy Club, we got off the subject. Now in
1925 we must go on at the point where we stopped then."

And now, in a rapid survey, I was treated to the whole sad, heartrending
story of the events which led to the destruction of the splendid
squadron, which included the _Scharnhorst,_ the _Gneisenau,_ the
_Nurnberg_ and the _Leipzig,_ and of the meticulous and frenzied labours
of the Admiralty, till the last meshes of the net had been woven into
which Admiral Spee _inevitably_ fell.

Lord Herschell could no longer remember quite all the details after so
many years. Not every one of the many moves in the game which he began
to describe on this evening can stand examination before the bar of
naval history, but in general his account was correct. Considering the
continual movements of the units of the British battle-cruiser squadron,
from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, from the Irish Sea to the
Atlantic, to the West Indies, and the Antilles, mostly for the purpose
of misleading our High Seas Fleet, Lord Herschell would have needed to
be a prodigy of memory to be able to recall every detail accurately on
the spur of the moment.

Before I recount the amazing, and to me most profoundly depressing,
story which Lord Herschell told me on this Christmas eve, the reader
shall be given a short conspectus of how things looked to us of the
Admiralty Staff in Berlin at the time.

After the destruction of Admiral Cradock's squadron in the naval battle
off Coronel on November 1st, 1914, the time was close at hand when Count
Spee was to round Cape Horn with his completely intact squadron, appear
in the Atlantic, and, before doing anything else, to pick up the ships
that had been sent out to him with coal and provisions at the agreed

There appeared to be three possibilities:

Either he would send his cruisers out separately with instructions to
terrorize British merchant shipping, as the _Emden_ and, later, our
auxiliary cruisers did. That would have compelled the British Admiralty
to send forth, and subsequently disperse all over the seven seas, an
enormous number of cruisers of every class, while it was just these fast
cruisers that were so urgently needed in the North Sea, for
reconnoitring purposes.

Or again, Count Spee might keep his squadron together and engage the
main body of the enemy cruisers, which were presumably somewhere in the
Atlantic, or possibly in the West Indies, in a battle, the issue of
which, to judge by events so far, was likely to be favourable to our
squadron so long as, and only so long as, it had no really superior
forces, i.e. modern battle-cruisers, to encounter. But that
possibility--so they reasoned in Berlin--did not need to be reckoned
with, because the English would not be so ready to risk a reduction in
the number of the battle-cruisers stationed in the North Sea, in view of
the proximity of our own battle-cruisers and the main body of the High
Seas Fleet.

Finally, it was open to Count Spee to avoid engaging with the enemy in
any form for the present and try to slip back home. In this case he
could reckon on the High Seas Fleet's taking every care to provide
suitable cover for him either to the north or to the west of Scotland or
off the coast of Norway. Plans for this had been drawn up by the
Admiralty Staff and the High Command of the Fleet.

This sketch gives, I think, in general a fair account of the way in
which people at home conceived the position out on the high seas, and
were justified in forecasting them--or, rather, in hoping they would
turn out if Fate were kind; not more than that!

But the event was to be very, very different. Everything of which we had
thought with such pride, such quiet faith, was destined to come tumbling
down about our ears.

And now for Lord Herschell's version of the story.

"Admiral Spee was cruising with his squadron somewhere about the seven
seas, and London could discover no reliable clue as to his whereabouts.
The British Admiralty was, however, perfectly aware of the danger the
existence of his squadron constituted to British shipping, and proceeded
with its iron logic to compass its destruction. In order to join battle
with the Germans with any prospect of success, it was necessary to
release two battle-cruisers of the latest type. The brilliant gunnery of
the _Scharnhorst_ and the Gneisenau, which formed the kernel of Spee's
squadron, could not otherwise be dealt with. Further, it was essential
to try to discover where Spee would be on a given day, if the two
battle-cruisers were really to be brought into action. As far as that
was concerned, their plans were ready.

"But, to begin with, two British dreadnought cruisers had to be released
from other duties. This had to be done unobtrusively, for if the German
Naval Command got wind of the fact that two British cruisers were
leaving the North Sea and making for the Atlantic it would be bound to
conclude--so they said to themselves in London--that this trip had to do
with Count Spee, and that had to be avoided at all costs.

"Due weight was given to the fact that the German Navy was fully aware
that the majority of the British battle-cruisers were in the North Sea,
while two of them had been sent off to the Mediterranean, where they
remained stationed not far from the Dardanelles, in order to block any
possible exit of the _Goeben_ into the Mediterranean. It was still
regarded as a possibility in London that this powerful German
battle-cruiser would try to slip through to Pola in order to give a
stiffening to the Austrian fleet. In these circumstances it was, as I
have said, impossible to dispatch two battle-cruisers without more ado
to chase Admiral Spee; their disappearance from their moorings would
immediately have been observed by the ubiquitous German agents.
Accordingly it had to be concealed; that was the essential condition of
success. This could only be managed by cunning, and cunning was Admiral
Hall's department.

"He had a brilliant idea. He got two new cruisers built at an English
dockyard. The job was started and carried out in complete secrecy, and
the two new cruisers were all ready within a few weeks. There they were,
all painted grey, with their great funnels and heavy guns pointing
menacingly from their armoured turrets. But they weren't battle-cruisers
at all, only wooden dummies, and they were hardly finished when two
powerful tugs appeared on the scene, flung their hawsers across, and one
dark night towed the two wooden monsters out to sea. Officers stood on
the bridge of each tug, scanning the horizon with powerful glasses for
signs of an enemy ship. If anything of a suspicious nature hove in sight
the smoke-screens at once got busy; for the one great condition of the
success of this wheeze was that the existence of the decoys should
remain an absolute secret.

"They proceeded through the Bay of Biscay, past Gibraltar, and through
the Mediterranean all the way to the Aegean, where the two real
battle-cruisers, the _Invincible_ and the _Inflexible_ were at anchor,
and had been for weeks, in full view of the islanders, among whom were a
couple of men whose main occupation at that moment was to keep a sharp
look-out to see whether they were still there.

"At this point the two tugs arrived--again on a dark night, of
course--with the decoys in tow, which they brought right alongside of
the cruisers. The wooden ships were soon riding at anchor exactly like
their prototypes; seen from the shore, from the islands, they were
indistinguishable from the two genuine cruisers. They too--exactly
resembling their prototypes in every respect--were surrounded by a dense
crowd of torpedo- and patrol-boats, to prevent mines and torpedoes from
doing any damage to their valuable selves and, which was of the greatest
importance, keep inquisitive eyes at a distance.

"The decoy ships were still rocking on the waves, having not yet dropped
anchor, when the two real battle-cruisers moved off under the cover of
darkness. They ploughed their way unobserved through the waves of the
Mediterranean; and the German Intelligence Service never suspected that
two dangerous enemies, infinitely superior in strength, were now on
Admiral Spee's tracks. The two cruisers hurried past Gibraltar at full
speed and turned sharply to the south-west."

Here Lord Herschell broke off.

"It's late, and you must have something else to think about now. Some
day I'll show you round the house; you'll find lots of mementoes which I
feel sure will interest you...Incidentally, we shall be seeing each
other again in London the day after to-morrow. Admiral Hall has invited
me to make a third when he sees his old enemy of the war again for the
first time."


Admiral Sir Reginald Hall had been the first person in London to whom I
had paid my respects. I called on him the day after my arrival. The old
attendant at the Admiralty, with whom I had had that little difficulty
in August 1915 about signing the visitors' book, and who was surprised
and delighted to see me again on this occasion, informed me that Admiral
Hall had in the interval become a Member of Parliament and was probably
to be found in the House of Commons.

Sir Reginald immediately telephoned to Lord Herschell asking him to join
us at lunch at the Army and Navy Club, the very same club in whose
comfortable rooms we had spent a short time together once before.

My meeting with Admiral Hall was one of the greatest experiences of my
life since my return from the War and captivity. The way the old
gentleman put his hands on both my shoulders, and looked me straight in
the eyes, honestly and unaffectedly glad to see before him such a
picture of health and vigour, who had thrown off those four terrible
years in American jails and penitentiaries as if they were nothing; the
way this typical sailor, whose snow-white hair gave him a venerable air,
stretched out his hand towards me--just exactly as Chief of the Naval
Staff, Admiral Zenker, had done a few weeks before in Berlin--broke the
ice instantaneously and blew away every trace of the old enmity. My dumb
resentment against this man who had done me so much injury and changed
the whole course of my life was buried for ever from that moment. And
he, moved, no doubt, by a silent desire to make up for the past, has
been a staunch friend and a genius of good counsel to myself and my
daughter ever since.

That is England!

That day the three of us, Admiral Hall, Lord Herschell, and myself, sat
in the same club, in the same corner of the same room, in the same
chairs, in which we had sat ten years before, and exchanged war

Lord Herschell, of course, at once introduced the topic of our Christmas
Eve conversation in the Isle of Wight, the subject on which I was so
intensely curious, namely, the story of Count Spee. "Captain Rintelen is
dying to know why our two battle-cruisers sailed south-west into the

"Yes, why on earth," I chimed in. "They most already have known where
Admiral Spee's squadron was." "We knew where he would be," said Lord
Herschell, looking across at Admiral Hall. The Admiral's eyes were
staring in front of him. "I had telegraphed to him," he said quietly. "I
had telegraphed to him to let him know where our battle-cruisers would
meet him, and all I can tell you is that he turned up."

I pushed my chair back a little from the table and laughed. "Really, Sir
Reginald, it's rather unkind of you to pull a poor defeated enemy's leg
like that. Do you expect me to believe that?" As I looked at the
Admiral's grave face I at once realized instinctively that what Lord
Herschell had hinted to me was the truth. But I still did not
understand. How could Hall have telegraphed to Count Spee? What did it
mean? It was all completely beyond me. Then Admiral Hall began:

"We never do things by halves. We had already taken care that the two
cruisers should not miss their objective. We knew what we were doing. I
have already told you that we were in possession of the German code. You
must get that firmly into your head if you are ever to understand the
story I'm going to tell you.

"It stood to reason that Spee's squadron was bound to turn up somewhere
sooner or later, and everything pointed to the west coast of South
America. The surmise proved correct. On All Soul's Eve 1914 the
horrifying news reached London that Count Spee had destroyed Admiral
Cradock's squadron off Coronel. He had steamed away from the scene of
battle in the direction of Valparaiso, and the news of his arrival was,
of course, at once cabled to us. We knew that he had gone ashore with
his officers and had been welcomed by the German colony. So Count Spee
is now in Valparaiso: please hold on to that firmly for a moment."

Hall now began to construct a diagram on the table with the aid of a
variety of objects.

"Here is Valparaiso, here are our two cruisers, and there is Berlin. Now
pay attention. Here is Berlin: Count Spee is at Valparaiso. Here are our
two cruisers; there is Berlin, and in Berlin is my man."

"Your man, Admiral?"

"Yes, my man," he said calmly; "my agent. I had instructed him to find
out the exact procedure by which telegrams were sent to the German
cruisers abroad. He had informed me that the procedure was quite simple.
When such a telegram was to be sent an Admiralty messenger went to the
head office and sent it. They used special forms for such telegrams in
Berlin, didn't they, and before a wire of this sort could be sent it had
to be stamped by the Admiralty and the Censor's Office? I don't know how
my agent managed it, and I don't believe I should have been very much
interested if I had; all I knew was that he had procured the required
stamps and forms. Or they may have been forged ones. Who knows?

"You've not forgotten, I hope, that Admiral Spee and his squadron are
anchored off Valparaiso.

"Well, then, the moment I heard that he had arrived there I instructed
my agent in Berlin to act. He had been carrying a telegram we had sent
him from London about with him for some weeks. The telegram was in the
German code; it contained strict and definite orders to Admiral Spee to
proceed to the Falkland Islands with all speed and destroy the wireless
station at Port Stanley...

"You needn't tell me the rest of the story, Sir Reginald," I said with
profound emotion. "What followed I know from my period of service on the
Admiralty Staff at Berlin."

After a short discussion in Valparaiso with the German Minister to
Chile, Count Spee summoned his Chief of Staff and the commanders of his
cruisers to an immediate conference. They all tried to dissuade him from
carrying out the plan which he unfolded to them, which was, to round
Cape Horn, and make for the Falklands. His Chief of Staff pointed out
that such a route involved an unnecessary risk of attracting the
attention of hostile forces, and that the squadron might be rendered
_hors de combat_ as the result of encountering the enemy in superior
force, and hence, through the absence of any possibility of refitting,
become useless for any further operations.

Spee told no one that he had received a secret telegram addressed to
"The Admiral Commanding the Squadron--personal," and merely declared his
intention of carrying out his plan. He was acting, as he supposed, on
his instructions.

The death-struggle of the German squadron against the superior forces of
the enemy lasted only a few hours...

At home, at Admiralty Headquarters, it was a standing mystery how the
two squadrons--the German under Admiral Spee, the English under Admiral
Sturdee--could possibly have got at each other across so many thousands
of sea miles within less than twenty-four hours. There must be something
sinister and altogether mysterious behind it.

To the official report of the disaster furnished by the senior surviving
German officer, Commander Poch-hammer, the Kaiser appended the following
manuscript note:

"It remains a mystery what made Spee attack the Falkland Islands. See
Mahan's _Naval Strategy_."

Begging your Imperial Majesty's pardon, Count Spee had received definite
and unambiguous instructions to proceed to the Falkland Islands. Only,
this order came from London, not from the Admiralty Staff in Berlin,
still less from your Imperial Majesty.

* * * * *

And yet Count Spee had his chance. He might not merely have duped an
enemy many times his superior in guns, but actually have put Admiral
Starrier and his squadron out of action for a long time, even if he
could not actually destroy them.

Early on the morning of December 8th, 1914, the German scouts discovered
that right inside Port Stanley were two British battle-cruisers, which
had only arrived during the previous day, the _Invincible_ and the
_Inflexible,_ also three armoured cruisers, all them occupied in
coaling, with hardly any steam up.

If only he had without a moment's thought sacrificed one of the
squadron's tenders, the _Seydlitz_ for instance--the name alone suggests
it!--and sunk it so as to block the narrow opening and then turned
every gun he had, especially those of the _Scharnhorst_ and the
_Gneisenau,_ on the British as they lay there with the colliers
alongside--the whole of the harbour would have gone up in flames, with
serious damage, perhaps worse; in any case the enemy squadron would have
been laid up for months before repair ships and cranes could get to them
from England; the _Leipzig_ or the _Dresden_ could have been left on
guard--and those operations interfered with too...

Admiral Count Spee, with his squadron intact, would have been master of
the southern Atlantic. What a thought!

But Fate willed otherwise.

* * * * *

I was so shattered by the whole story that I had heard to-day, more than
ten years after the event, that we dropped the subject of the War.

A few days later Admiral Hall was my guest, but on this occasion, too,
curiosity about the past proved stronger than the will to forget.

The name of Huerta, the former President of Mexico, also dropped from
the Admiral's mouth.

Huerta! In the summer of 1915 I made the suggestion to Berlin that they
should egg Huerta on against the United States. The sending of U-boats
and the promise of arms and munitions was the decisive point as regards
Huerta. I had handled this quite extraordinarily dangerous business so
secretly that I had specially sent a reliable courier to Berlin. He had
arrived and the letter had been read by nobody on the way. I could not,
of course, foresee then that these negotiations with Mexico would
subsequently be continued in such a manner that they and their
consequences would change the whole complexion of affairs.

The business was taken over by other people, with the final result that
Mexico did not come into the War on our side, but the United States took
up arms against us! My idea was that Mexico should attack the United
States as soon as we had definitely proclaimed unrestricted submarine
warfare against all and sundry. We should in that case have to reckon
with America's entry into the War, and it was essential to tie our new
enemy to his own border. This could only be done if we could succeed in
putting Huerta in power again, since otherwise there was no prospect of
persuading Mexico to attack the United States.

Admiral Hall began the conversation by showing me a document. "There is
no longer any point," he said, "in denying to me, your trusty old enemy,
that you tried to get Huerta to co-operate with you. Your idea was
worked out by others, but with the Mexican President Carranza, not with

I picked up the paper, which lay in front of me.

"That is the Zimmermann telegram," I replied. "Of course, I know it.
Everyone who is interested in the history of the War will remember that
you intercepted it, when Zimmermann, who was at that time
Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, sent it to the German Minister in
Mexico City, von Eckhardt. It is also a matter of common knowledge that
this affair was the cause of America's entering the War on the side of
the Allies."

At that moment Hall was called away by an attendant, and I had leisure
to recall everything that had happened in consequence of the famous
Zimmermann telegram. I read the text once more.

On January the 14th, 1917, Zimmermann wired to Eckhardt as follows:

"We shall commence unrestricted U-boat warfare on February the 1st.
Nevertheless we hope to keep the United States neutral. If we should not
succeed in this, we shall propose to Mexico an alliance on the following
terms: We shall wage war and conclude peace in common. We shall provide
general financial support, and stipulate that Mexico shall receive back
the territory of New Mexico and Arizona which she lost in 1848. The
details will be left to you to carry out. You are instructed to sound
Carranza in the strictest confidence, and as soon as war against the
United States is certain you will give him a hint to enter into
negotiations with Japan on his own initiative, requesting her to join in
and offering to act as intermediary between Japan and Germany. Draw
Carranza's attention to the fact that the carrying out of unrestricted
U-boat warfare will make it possible to bring England to her knees and
compel her to sue for peace within a few months. Confirm receipt.

That was the Zimmermann telegram.

* * * * *

I thought over the various ways in which the German Foreign Office was
able at that time to send wires to America. There were four
possibilities, each of which was taken advantage of. Every important
telegram from Berlin to America was dispatched by four different routes.
In the first place, there was wireless, and messages transmitted
directly across the ocean in this way were in code.

Secondly, every telegram was sent to Stockholm, set up in the secret
cipher of the Swedish Foreign Office, and either cabled or sent by
wireless to the German Ambassador in Washington. Thirdly, every telegram
was wired to Holland, and simultaneously, by one route or another, to
Spain, whence the Attaché in charge of this duty cabled it to New York
in the same cipher used when messages were sent direct from Berlin.

Finally, the Foreign Office had thought of a fourth way, the
consequences of which were particularly disastrous. It had accepted one
day an offer from the Government of the United States, made through the
American Ambassador in Berlin, to transmit German Foreign Office
telegrams through the American Embassy. They would thus be cabled to
Washington without an enemy Power having the opportunity to intercept or
delay them.

The Zimmermann telegram was, in addition, sent by a fifth route. It went
direct from Berlin by wireless to the newly constructed radio station on
Mexican territory.

The Foreign Office in Berlin thought the matter over once more before it
finally decided to use these five routes. In view of the extraordinarily
important contents of the telegram, it tried to think of an absolutely
safe way, and resolved to entrust it to the U-boat _Deutschland,_ which
was to leave Bremerhaven for North America on January the 15th, 1917.
War with the United States was, however, already threatening, and the
_Deutschland,_ which was a mercantile submarine, was attached to the
Navy and her voyage cancelled.

* * * * *

I was smoothing out the document thoughtfully, when Admiral Hall

"Do you know," he asked, "how many routes were used to send telegrams to

I did know, for there was nothing unusual in a German officer who had
served on the Staff at the Admiralty being in possession of such
information. But it was extraordinary that Admiral Hall also knew. He
began by telling me that the Zimmermann telegram had been radioed direct
to New York, and I was not surprised to hear that it had been
intercepted and deciphered. It was common knowledge, for its text had
been published in the United States.

Hall told me, however, that the Stockholm route had not been safe
either, for the British possessed the key to the Secret Code of the
Swedish Foreign Office as well. The third way, via Holland and Spain,
was no better than the other two, since England had agents in her pay in
the post offices of those countries, who passed the German wires on to
the Naval Intelligence; and they were in the code that Admiral Hall was
able to read. A telegram handed in by the German Naval Attaché at Madrid
led eventually to Mata Hari being shot at Vincennes!

Even the fourth route, through the American Embassy in Berlin, was
accessible to Admiral Hall, for I now learnt that Mr. Gerard, even when
the United States were completely neutral, sent our telegrams by cable
to the chief telegraph office in London for transmission to America.
Since the English were in possession of the key, and Gerard let them
know which wires came from the German Government, they had no difficulty
in reading them.

Thus none of the five routes was secret, and they all led to Admiral

"When we first intercepted the Zimmermann telegram," he continued, "we
said nothing."

The British kept their knowledge to themselves, but it was quite clear
to them that they now possessed an instrument which could bring the
United States into the War on their side. If the telegram were to be
published in America, it would give rise to a storm of indignation
against Germany which the United States Government would certainly not
be able to ignore. It would not dare to fly in the face of public anger.
If it did refuse to act, it would find itself in an extremely
uncomfortable situation, since the United States had always been afraid
of the danger which might come from both Mexico and Japan. These two
countries were nightmares, the thought of which disturbed the
comfortable beds of American citizens, and they would turn with fury on
the Power which had the temerity to conjure them up.

"And what did you do then?" I asked. "It is obvious that you waited for
a favourable opportunity. And then?"

Hall carefully picked up one of the documents lying before him, smiled,
and turned it over. He pushed it toward me and I read the text. It was a
telegram from Mr. Walter H. Page, the United States Ambassador in
London, dated February the 24th, 1917:

"To the Secretary of State, Washington. Number 5746. In about three
hours I shall despatch a telegram of the greatest importance for the
President and the Secretary of State. Page."

Hall turned another sheet and showed me the telegram which Page sent
three hours later to Mr. Lansing. It bore the number 5747:

"Confidential for the President and the Secretary of State. Balfour has
handed me the text of a cipher telegram from Zimmermann, German
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to the German Minister in
Mexico, which was sent via Washington and forwarded by Ambassador
Bernstorff on January the 10th. You can probably obtain a copy of the
text, as transmitted by Bernstorff, from the telegraph office in
Washington. The first group of figures is 130. The second is 13042, and
is the key number of the code. The penultimate group is 97556 and
represents Zimmermann's signature. I will send you by letter a copy of
the cipher text and its deciphering in German. Meanwhile I append the
following translation into English..."

Then followed a literal version of the Zimmermann telegram.

"Well, Sir Reginald, the telegram is now in America. What happened

The Admiral continued.

In spite of the fact that they had been given the actual details with
the key figures for the addressee, the text and the sender, the
Government in Washington still would not and could not credit the
bewildering revelation of their own Ambassador in London. It seemed
incredible that such a grotesque telegram could actually have been
dispatched from the Wilhelmstrasse.

"They thought it was forged," Hall said, with a smile.

Because they thought it was forged, they had no intention of making it
public; but in order to make sure, they inquired at the telegraph office
in Washington, and there was found, after a short search, a copy of the
wire sent by Bernstorff to Eckhardt in Mexico City. This nonplussed them
somewhat, but they still needed a hundred per cent proof before they
would incite the country to war. They were unable to believe that anyone
could be so unintelligent as to send such a telegram, even though it was
in cipher, but they had to probe the matter to the bottom, and requested
Page to obtain the key to the cipher from Admiral Hall and send it to
Washington as soon as possible, so that they could decode Bernstorff's

Hall, however, had his own reasons for not complying with this request.
He handed me another telegram, dated March the 1st, from the Ambassador
in London to Washington:

"In reply to your number 4493. I have taken up the question whether we
could be given a copy of the key, but there are considerable
difficulties in the way. I am informed that the key itself does not
provide a solution, since it is only used together with a frequent
permutation of the groups of figures, and there are only one or two
persons who are acquainted with the method of deciphering. These experts
are unable to travel to the United States, since their services are
indispensable in London. If you will send me a copy of the cipher
telegram, the English authorities will set to work immediately and have
it decoded. Page."

Washington forwarded the text of Bernstorff's wire, and a messenger came
with it to Admiral Hall from the American Embassy in London. It was
decoded in the presence of the Ambassador himself, and the groups of
figures were translated before his eyes into the text of the Zimmermann

There was no longer any room for doubt that the telegram was genuine and
had really emanated from the Wilhelmstrasse. The Americans were
convinced that the British were right, and the text of the wire was made
public. The ensuing storm turned the United States definitely against
Germany, though pro-German opinion, at least determined opponents of
President Wilson's pro-English policy, unanimously declared that the
telegram was a crude British forgery. It was a heavy blow to the latter
when Zimmermann, after the German public had also grown agitated,
confirmed the authenticity of the telegram in a speech to the Reichstag,
an occurrence which Page promptly reported to Washington on March 10th.

There could now be no holding back. Even the Southern States, which had
been to some extent friendly to Germany, or at any rate hostile to
England, were furious with indignation at Germany's attempt to help in
the transfer of two flourishing American States to Mexico.

Admiral Hall leaned back in his chair.

"And that is the end of the story," I said.

"The end?" he replied. "What do you mean, the end? Read this! It is a
telegram from Eckhardt to the Foreign Office in Berlin. It was handed in
on March the 1st."

The text was as follows:

"The Mexican newspaper _Universal,_ which is friendly to the Allies, has
just published information that became known yesterday in Washington,
according to which President Wilson appears to have had knowledge of our
intention ever since the breaking off of diplomatic relations with
Germany. Naturally I have not issued any communiqué here. Treachery or
indiscretion here is out of the question, so there must have been a
leakage in the United States, or else the Secret Code is no longer safe.
I have denied everything here."

"How did you manage to decipher this telegram of Eckhardt's?" I asked.
"He says that he was afraid the code was no longer secret. What code did
he use, in that case, for his own wire?"

"I told you it was not the end of the story," the Admiral answered. "It
is simpler, however, than you think. Though Eckhardt feared that the
Secret Code was 'no longer safe,' he calmly continued to cable and radio
with the same cipher. Just look at this."

This was a telegram from the German Legation in Mexico to Berlin, dated
March and, 1917:

"A visit to President Carranza in Queretaro would be inopportune. I
therefore took occasion of calling on the Foreign Minister and sounding
him. He was willing to consider the suggestion, and in pursuance of this
he had an interview with the Japanese Minister which lasted an hour and
a half, but the substance of which is unknown to me. He then left to
report to President Carranza. Eckhardt."

Admiral Hall was right. The story was not yet at an end. The course it
took was of so monstrous a nature that it took me some time to grasp it.
I kept in mind certain facts. A telegram from the German Foreign Office
to America became common property in spite of its having been in cipher.
Although this leakage had been brought to the notice of every German
authority at home and abroad by a scandal which was agitating the world,
and even though the Minister to Mexico himself had expressed the fear
that the code was no longer secret, this same "diplomat" continued to
use an instrument which he assumed gave the enemy the power to read his
confidential messages. This was one of the many incomprehensible
episodes which occurred during the grim conflict of the Great War.

Hall interrupted my cogitations.

"We had of course assumed that the old code would be cancelled after
this, and we were quite worried, since a knowledge of the cipher used
for the most important State telegrams during the War was of almost
decisive moment. We had already begun to rack our brains with a view to
discovering the new code which we expected to come into use. Your
Government, however, relieved us of all anxiety, for the old code was
retained, and naturally we intercepted the telegrams which were sent
after the first Zimmermann wire, and cabled them immediately to
Washington. You can probably imagine the sensation they caused! Do you
realise that you contributed to the eventual intervention of the United
States in the War against Germany?"

"Just a moment, Sir Reginald. Were there any other telegrams? It must
have occurred to someone in Berlin that the code was not safe to use. It
_must_ have occurred to _someone."_

"It occurred to no one. Here is the next telegram." It was from Mexico
to Berlin and was marked "Most Secret, No. 7":

"Should we be in a position to supply Mexico with munitions? Please
reply. I have received offers of help for purposes of propaganda from
several quarters here. Eckhardt."

Zimmermann wired to Eckhardt on March 7th:

"Please burn compromising instructions. Your action is fully approved.
We have publicly admitted that the telegram of January 14th was genuine.
In this connection, please emphasise that the instructions were only to
be carried out if America declared war. Zimmermann."

This wire was sent off in the morning. At noon the Japanese
Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Baron Shidehara, issued a
communiqué which was published simultaneously throughout Europe. It ran
as follows:

"Japan is very surprised to hear of the German proposal. We cannot
imagine what Germany is thinking of when she suggests the possibility of
our allowing ourselves to be entangled in a war with the United States.
How can she impute to us a willingness to approach Mexico for such a
purpose? I cannot find words to characterise the whole absurdity of the
idea. It is unnecessary to say that Japan adheres faithfully to her pact
with the Allied Powers."

This communiqué was, as I have said, issued at midday, and it was not
known in Berlin at that hour. Yet the same evening Berlin sent the
following wire, bearing the number 17 and addressed to the Minister in
Mexico; of course in the same code as before:

"Please ascertain the type of arms and munitions required, and in which
Mexican harbours on the east or west coast a ship can discharge under a
foreign flag. Mexico must try to obtain arms, as far as possible, from
Japan and South America."

Hall saw that I was completely dumbfounded, and that I was trying to
suppress a bitterness which I did not want to betray openly. He said:

"My dear Captain, please don't. Don't try to express what you feel now
that you see all this before you. You cannot very well do so, since you
are a German officer. Let me continue.

"This was the situation. A plot had been arranged; all the participants
and all the intended victims had been warned. The public had for weeks
been occupied with the incident and nothing else. Opinion in America was
roused. All eyes were turned to the Mexican frontier. The military
authorities in the United States had been advised and were keeping a
strict eye on everything that was happening in Mexico. Considering the
relative strength, equipment, and military training of both sides, and
the war material at their disposal, an attack by Mexico could only have
a prospect of success if it were sudden. The factor of surprise,
however, no longer existed, so her chances were nil. An attempt had been
made to draw Japan into the plot, but she declared that the idea was

"It appears that the German authorities had been persuaded by the sole
fact that there had been an interview between the Mexican Foreign
Minister and the Japanese diplomatic representative, which had lasted an
hour and a half--the substance of which they were ignorant of--that
Japan would throw over all her existing alliances and join in the plot
against the United States. There was thus in reality nothing, absolutely
nothing, which could lead to the conclusion that Japan would be willing
to change sides. Although the whole world knew what was in the wind, the
intrigue, which had become completely inane, was continued. The only
result, since I intercepted all Germany's telegrams and sent them to
America, was that both the public and the Government of the United
States were provoked beyond endurance.

"Here I have a bundle of telegrams which constitute a bizarre interlude
in this tragic affair. A satyric drama was performed while we listened
in. We heard the German Foreign Office and its Minister in Mexico at
loggerheads. They used the old code to inquire how this same code had
been betrayed. On March 21st Berlin cabled to Eckhardt:

"'Extremely secret. To be deciphered personally. Please cable in this
cipher who decoded cable numbers 1-11. Where were the originals and the
decoded copies kept? Cable whether both were kept in the same place.'

"As the Legation in Mexico did not reply at once, Berlin wired again on
March 27th 1917:

"'The greatest caution is essential. All compromising material to be
burned. There are various signs which indicate that there has been
treachery in Mexico.'

"But Eckhardt, who was quite innocent of the matter, was not very
pleased to be told that the leakage must have taken place in Mexico. He
replied to Zimmermann on the same day:

"'Telegrams deciphered by Magnus on special instructions from me. Both
original and copy, as is the case with all political documents of a
secret nature, were withheld from the knowledge of the office staff.
Telegram 1 received here in cipher 13040. But Kinkel believes he can
remember that it was forwarded from the Embassy in Washington via Cape
Cod, like all telegrams received here in cipher. The originals were
burnt by Magnus and the ashes dispersed. Both telegrams were kept in an
absolutely secure steel safe, which was obtained for the purpose and
built into the wall Magnus's bedroom. They remained there until they
were destroyed.'

"Magnus was the Secretary of Legation, Kinkel was formerly at the
Embassy in Washington, and Cape Cod is an American telegraph station.
Berlin was apparently not satisfied with Eckhardt's answer and demanded
further inquiries. The following telegram was received from Eckhardt on
March 30th:

"'Greater precautions than have always been observed here are
impossible. The text of telegrams received is read to me at night-time
in my private residence by Magnus in a low voice. My servant, who does
not know a word of German, sleeps in the annexe. Apart from this, the
text is never anywhere but in the hands of Magnus, or in a steel safe,
the combination of which is known to us two only. According to Kinkel,
even secret telegrams were accessible to the whole of the office staff
in Washington, and two copies were regularly prepared for the archives
of the Embassy. Here, however, there can be no question of carbon copies
or of waste-paper basket. Please inform me as soon as we are free from
suspicion, as no doubt will be the case. Otherwise, I insist with Magnus
on judicial investigation.'

"This emphatic reply brought the desired vindication, for Berlin wired
on April 4th:

"'After your telegram we can hardly assume that treachery was committed
in Mexico, and the signs which pointed to it lose their force. No blame
attaches either to you or to Magnus. Foreign Office.'

"So far so good," Admiral Hall went on. "Meanwhile, however, the
telegrams which were to organise the conspiracy with Mexico continued.
On April 13th Berlin urged Eckhardt as follows:

"'Please reply with statement of the sums necessary to carry out our
policy. Arrangements are being made on this side to transfer
considerable sums. If possible include amount required for arms, etc.'

"The curtain now began to fall: On April the 14th Eckhardt sent a
renewed warning to Zimmermann against the use of the Secret Code, and

"'President Carranza declares that he intends under all circumstances
to remain neutral. If Mexico should nevertheless be drawn into the War
we can discuss the matter again then. He says that the alliance has been
wrecked by premature publication, but might become necessary at a later
stage of developments. With regard to Mauser 7 mm. ammunition and money,
he will give his answer when he is authorised by Congress to make his

"Of course Carranza never gave the answer he had promised, nor did he
ask Congress for full powers. After the dust stirred up by the first
telegram, he never seriously cherished the idea of taking up arms
against the United States. But yet they continued cabling from Mexico,
'No. 26040-612':

"'For Captain Nadolny, Great General Staff. Have you sent 25,000
dollars to Paul Hilken? He is to send me the money. With reference to
this: Hermann claims to have instructions from General Staff to burn
Tampico oilfields and proposes now to carry it out. But Verdy thinks he
is English or American spy. Answer immediately. Eckhardt.'

"Quite a nice plan, wasn't it?" Admiral Hall remarked. Then he put his
papers together. He continued to discuss the subject, and it became more
and more evident what this sort of telegram has meant for the future
history of the world. Germany's fate began to be sealed when Admiral
Hall got hold of the code.

As we sat there in our quiet corner of the club, I had a vision of the
past. I saw myself standing in the Naval Attaché's room in New York, and
I heard myself ask:

"Do you know that the 'Most Secret Code' has gone?"

I heard his reply, grating, explosive:

"Who says so? Impossible! It is kept here under lock and key."

_"Always,_ Captain?

"Of course I haven't the time to lock up every code myself. That is done
by one of the secretaries."

I saw Mr. Boniface sitting in front of me, telling me gloomily that the
British had copied the Naval Attaché's code.

"There is one thing about which I am not clear, Sir Reginald," I said.
"From what you have told me, there can be no doubt that all the German
authorities concerned kept on broadcasting their messages in this
confounded code, but I fail to understand how nobody hit upon the idea
of changing it. I witnessed many incredible episodes in the War, but I
simply cannot realise that such a thing was possible."

Hall averted his eyes a little.

"Yes, that was a strange affair. Who would be interested to-day in
knowing how it happened? I must, however, confess one thing. I was
myself not altogether devoid of responsibility. I managed to convince
the German authorities that it was only America which had had anything
to do with the Zimmermann episode."

"I don't follow you quite, sir."

"Wait a moment, and you will. I had to prevent the Germans from
believing that their code was no longer safe, so that I could continue
to read their telegrams.

"When Eckhardt cabled his suspicions, I was rather startled; so it
occurred to me to suggest to the Germans that someone in America must
have got hold of the telegrams after they had been deciphered. If I
could succeed in doing this, Berlin would be bound to assume that the
leakage had occurred either in the German Embassy at Washington or at
the Legation in Mexico. I wanted them to think that it was the United
States and not the British Intelligence Service which had discovered the
story. You shake your head. I can assure you that I also had good
grounds for doubting whether I should be successful."

He then told me, with a friendly smile, what steps he had taken to
delude the Germans. After Eckhardt had cabled his warning to Berlin, and
the world was ringing with the Zimmermann affair, Admiral Hall invited a
representative of the _Daily Mail_ to come and see him, and said:

"Don't you think that we people of the Intelligence Service are very

The journalist looked at the Admiral, who was regarded by the whole of
the British Press with awe, and laughed:

"Are you trying to pull my leg, Sir Reginald?" he replied. "Do you
seriously expect me to believe that the Intelligence Service is stupid?"

"It's not a matter of pulling your leg. I admit it in all seriousness.
You know the story of the Zimmermann telegram. Well, doesn't that tell
you enough? We have just seen how the Americans managed to obtain the
decoded wire straight away, while we have been trying all over the world
to decipher German messages and have not been successful in a single

The journalist looked at Hall very dubiously, and said, "Why do you tell
me this? What am I to do with this information?"

"Publish it."

"I cannot do that."

"Why not?"

"In the first place, because the story seems to me very odd, and I
simply do not believe that the members of the Naval Intelligence, with
you at call their head, are so unintelligent that it is necessary to
call attention to it in a newspaper. Besides, there would be no point in
writing anything against the Secret Service since it would never be

"Why not?"

"Because of the censorship."

"The censorship," said Admiral Hall emphatically, "you can leave to me."

The journalist looked at the Admiral, then stood up and laughed softly.

"I am very grieved." he said, "to see that you think me more stupid than
I am. I can imagine more or less what you want, and you may rely upon it
that the article will appear in the _Daily Mail_ to-morrow. I shall use
fine big headlines, I shall not be sparing with the heavy type, and
there will be no lack of unflattering remarks concerning the Naval
Intelligence. Good morning, Sir Reginald."

On the following day a sensational article appeared in the _Daily Mail,_
to the effect that the British Naval Intelligence Service was making a
pretty poor show and was very inferior to that of the United States. The
Americans were clever people. They could secure German telegrams as soon
as they had been decoded.

The sequel was as Hall had expected. The article convinced Berlin that
the mischief had been caused through decoded telegrams being betrayed in
America. The German Legation in Mexico was suspected, and, in short, the
Germans fell into the trap that Hall had laid. He sat in his room at the
Admiralty until the end of the War with his ear to all the wires. He
snatched the German wireless messages out of the air, and listened to
everything that a nation, fighting for its life, was thinking, planning
and doing.

_Yes, you British Admiralty, "You Were My Enemies!" but one had to have
respect for you for your energy of action and your circumspection!_

They were guided in Whitehall by the one idea, "Nothing succeeds like
success,"--at times, it must be said, ruthlessly falling in line with
Lord Fisher's saying, "Sink, Burn and Destroy."

That saying I bore in mind throughout the War, and acted likewise: if
Britannia ruled the waves, well and good; if she waived the rules, well
and good too; but I was to be a good scholar of theirs!

"Rule the Waves"--that was the prime thought, too, of Winston Churchill,
Lord Fisher's predecessor: "Rule the Waves"--to the exclusion of all

How often did my thoughts turn back to that masterstroke of his,
political and tactical alike, prior even to the outbreak of the Great
Conflagration: on July 30th, 1914, he went to see Asquith, the Prime
Minister, and obtained his agreement to the Grand Fleet's units taking
their war stations.

But that wasn't enough for them! What else did they do? Something more
important almost, but at least as clever and far-sighted.

On August the 1st, I remember, a telegram from Lichnowsky, our
Ambassador at the Court of St. James, was received at the

"Saw Asquith late last night: he pointed out to me that in the present
tense conditions no demonstration on the part of the High Seas Fleet
should take place. Any movement, however slight, of any German naval
unit might now arouse British public opinion with disastrous
consequences for the whole political situation'..."

And Bethmann Hollweg added in his own handwriting:

"Such an important hint should not be cast to the winds."

But the Kaiser wrote, after seeing both telegram and annotation, _"Was
für ein alter Fuchs der Asquith ist!" [Scanner's footnote:_ What an old
fox Asquith is!_]_

Still, Bethmann Hollweg forced the hands of the Kaiser, and the
strictest possible orders were issued. The High Seas Fleet had to "stay
indoors." The First Lord of the Admiralty had his own way: the
enemy-to-be was carefully kept off the North Sea; Britain's Navy had it
all to herself! "Quietly and unmolested" did she take war-stations, and
on August the 4th the stage was set: "No enemy vessel can be
sighted"--that was the report coming from all our patrol ships.

* * * * *

My readers must follow me back for ten years.

In my account of the conversation which I had with Admiral Hall about
the Zimmermann telegrams, I turned the hands of the clock forward. I
must now put them back to that evening in 1915, when I had just been
captured and was sitting with Hall and Herschell in their club--the
Junior United Services Club, I think it was.

When we left we went straight to Lord Herschell's rooms, where we had a
quick whisky, and Herschell sat at the piano and played Wagner. Hall
then took me by the arm and said:

"I am afraid you must go now. There are two men waiting for you

The two men were detectives, and they took me to the nearest Military
Police station, where I was given a room which was partitioned off from
the office. I sat down on one of the beds. I learned later that these
beds were there to accommodate officers on leave who were found in the
streets dead "tight." As I walked up and down, the officer in charge
said to me:

"Why don't you go home? Haven't you got any lodgings?"

I pondered this remark and realised that he took me for an English
officer who had been found in the street, and would be better off having
his sleep out at the police station. It took me some time to think out
the possible consequences of his mistake, and I came to the conclusion
that it might be dangerous to leave at night when the streets of London
were swarming with military patrols. Morning came at last, and as I lay
on the bed I heard the officer who was being relieved say:

"There's another one at the back, but he'll soon be going."

I did not give him the lie, and prepared to take my departure. I picked
up my hat, said, "Good morning," and was outside.

I knew London like a book, and was familiar with the bus routes, so I
waited for the next bus which went to the Mansion House, where I could
change for London Bridge. I knew that there was a tram terminus on the
south bank of the Thames, not far away, and that I could get a tram-car
which passed alongside the docks. If I kept my eyes open, I was bound to
see a Swedish steamer, and it would not be difficult to get on board.
What happened then would depend on circumstances. Perhaps I should find
someone who would help me to bide until we reached Swedish territory.

As I sat on the top deck of the bus which was to take me to freedom, I
thought everything over, and suddenly a black, impenetrable wall seemed
to interpose itself between me and my plan. I was done. I was in a state
of nervous exhaustion after the last few weeks in New York, the
crossing, and the struggle with Hall and his men. I was finished.

I find it impossible at this late date to give a completely plausible
explanation of my next action. I cannot give any details, or say what
possessed me. I saw something from the top of the bus...I think it was
a stockbroker of my acquaintance walking down to the office this fine
morning...and the sheer everydayness of the happening bowled me out. I
just came to a sudden resolve, got out of the omnibus and went back to
the police station! When I got there no one bothered about me. I sat
down on a chair and read the _Daily Mail._

Only then did it occur to me what a chance I had missed. I tried to
stand up, but fell back into my chair again and could not move. The
officer looked at me once or twice disapprovingly. He appeared to be
displeased that I was still there. All at once I saw a second officer in
the guard-room, accompanied by soldiers with fixed bayonets. He came
straight up to me and said:

"Are you the German Captain Rintelen?


"I have orders to take you to the railway station."

As we passed the officer in charge, he looked at me with his mouth wide
open. There were more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in
his philosophy.

* * * * *

I arrived in the concentration camp at Donington Hall on the evening of
August 18th, 1915. To my astonishment I was cut by all the German
officers there. At first I did not know why, but I gathered later that
they took me for an English spy. Günther Plüschow, the aviator from
Tsingtao, had recently escaped, and they thought I was stationed there
to find out how he had got away.

I had a vague foreboding of what the future had in store for me, when
Admiral Hall appeared one day with Lord Herschell, and I was summoned to
the Commandant's room. Hall's manner to me had changed, and he at once
burst out:

"What did you discuss with the Irish leaders in America? What have you
been planning? What plots have you been forging against England? Do you
realise that you have put yourself in an extremely precarious position?
If you want to make things easier for yourself, you had better confess
what conspiracy you have entered into with the Irish leaders."

So the Admiral knew all this! Well, it could not be helped, and I
determined that he should not learn anything from me, not even how I got
my reports through...though he asked me about it twice.

"We searched the _Noordam_ from truck to keelson," he said angrily, "and
we couldn't find the damn things."

I couldn't resist the temptation.

"Look at my signet," I said; "that, sir, has just been returned to me
from Berlin as a proof of receipt. It went in the same parcel."

A silence ensued.

"But how did you get the reports through from America?"

I didn't mind answering that one.

"Frankly, sir," I said with a smile, "I got the ladies to take care of
them...and aren't all naval control officers--French or English

But the battle of wits continued.

"And Irish leaders? What Irish leaders?" I went on. "I am a prisoner of
war. Please leave me in peace."

A few weeks later I got a letter from him:

"...I would not have you under a false impression, and your recent
attitude gave me much food for thought...The evidence that has been
slowly accumulating regarding your actions cannot be disregarded, and I
am faced with a situation that leaves me few alternatives."

Booh! That was some letter!! And soon afterwards an Army officer came to
fetch me from the camp; and before I had quite realised what was
happening the door of a cell closed behind me. I sat down and mused over
that fact that I was in the Tower of London, where Hans Lodi had been
shot, the first spy the British had captured and convicted.

I remained there two days, and then there was a somewhat grotesque
trial. During recess hours I was guarded by a picket of soldiers. One of
them, in a mood of compassion, felt he had to make me "brace up"; and
this gem of a Tommy whispered into my ears: "Never mind, sir, five of
our Queens have been executed in the Tower."

So I seemed to be in good company at least!

I faced the court martial and was accused, as a German officer, of
having landed on. English territory in time of war. It was apparently
the intention of the Admiralty to regard me as a civil prisoner, but
they were frustrated by the court's strict sense of legality. When I
proved that I had been brought into English territory by force, I was
acquitted and taken back to Donington Hall.

The next morning, about 10 o'clock, I was quietly sitting in a chair,
when someone suddenly pushed a morning paper, I think it was the _Daily
Mail, in_ front of my eyes, and I read in large headlines a piece of
news which interested me:

"Captain Rintelen Shot as a Spy in the Tower of London."

Below was my photograph, and the text stated that I had been condemned
to death by court martial on the previous day and immediately shot. I
turned round to see a couple of subalterns standing behind me, who
expressed the view that I ought to invite them to the "wake." The
canteen overflowed that evening, and the orchestra played Chopin's
Funeral March: "_Weh', nun trinkt er keinen Rotspohn mehr, und keinen
Champ-ha-hagner." ("He's_ gone where they don't drink re-ed wine, he's
gone where there's no Champa-ha-hagne.")

I drank both red wine and champagne and praised the Lord, surrounded by
my German comrades, who were now convinced that a man who had been shot
by the English could not at the same time be an English spy.

On the whole, life at Donington Hall went along smoothly enough. The
Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel F. S. Picot, was a soldier and a
gentleman, though his temper was repeatedly put on trial by those of us
who began to suffer from "barbed wire insanity" or became too acutely
conscious of our nationality. Two photographs of Donington Hall, very
kindly sent to me as a souvenir by Lieutenant-Colonel Picot, show very
clearly the two sides of our life: the fine old house clustered around
with our wooden huts and the justly famous barbed wire fence which kept
us there. Naturally there were certain incidents at this "Zoo," which
arose out of both German and English quarrels. These I wish to forget.

But--_lest_ I forget! the Easter Rebellion in Dublin did not come
altogether as a surprise to me, though naturally, being by _force
majeure_ no longer in touch with America, I had no knowledge just when
it was "timed" to come off!

* * * * *

British patriotism proved, for once in those dark days, a blessing to
us. Of course, no one in England would care to drink Moselle or Rhine
wines; but a large London department store held, from times of peace,
quite a stock of them. How quickly a deal--on the H.P. system for that
matter--was put through with the store "flooding" a wet canteen in the
heart of England! I still keep, as a souvenir, labels with lovely
sounding names in Gothic letters.

Though naturally it is neither a joy for anybody to watch enemy
prisoners nor for soldiers and sailors to be condemned to idleness and
boredom, yet nothing really marred that enforced sojourn there. And I
must say that those of the German officers who managed to escape and
were sooner or later captured again, received fair trials before British
courts martial; and being asked to be "learned counsel" for them, I was
given sufficient opportunity for pointing out the "extenuating"
circumstances for my "clients." In most cases a pardon came soon

I myself, however, was repeatedly "pestered" by American detectives and
lawyers, trying to persuade me to "return" to the States voluntarily. If
only those men had been a bit less silly in their arguments that I could
certainly be shot by the British! Well, I had "survived" this shooting
once; and whatever hopes these men held out to me for an early release,
if once back in--then still neutral--America, I felt it was another

Much later I was to learn, to my grief, what a magnificent plan had been
laid out by some personal friends. Immediately after being arrested,
once back in America, I was to "go out on bail"; the bail was to become
a _cadeau_ to the Department of Justice in Washington, and all I had to
do was to "smuggle" myself on board the merchant U-boat _Deutschland!_
She had actually delayed her departure from Baltimore for a day or two,
as the Embassy felt that a public trial would more than outweigh the
loss of twenty-five thousand dollars' bail.

What "eminent" lawyers those men had proved who had come to see me!

The one tragic event that occurred during my "stay" at Donington Hall
was, I confess, the death of K. of K. It by no means aroused enthusiasm
among the German officers and men interned there; unlike Jutland--our
Skager-Rak--or the Serbian and Rumanian routs, each of which made our
hearts thrill with joy, this time a feeling of awe, of sullen sympathy
spread over all of us. For a soldier of his calibre merely to drown
without a chance to fight for it! K. of K., of all men!

Few of the German officers knew more about him than that he was
Kitchener, just Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War. What lay
behind these initials, of that they were unaware, and in one of the
lectures, as they were being held regularly, I found an occasion to
bring home to many of them what that great builder had actually done. K.
of K.!

Here, I think, I should make mention that one day our Commandant,
Colonel F. S. Picot, confided to me that K. of K. had sent for him,
after "sinister rumours" had been making the round, that Donington Hall
was "luxury galore." Nothing of the sort, of course: a dignified
attitude was maintained on both sides, and a healthy spirit prevailed
there. No "baskets laden with fruit," no "bunches of flowers" were ever
sent. That was sheer humbug!

Mrs. Asquith, as she then was, had written to a young man interned
there, a civilian by the way, who had been socially received at her
house prior to the War, a letter to the effect that in view of his
nationality and the exalted position of her husband she was unable to do
more for him than express the hope that the War would not last all too
long! This letter, well befitting a lady, was the flimsy foundation of
the monstrous edifice of rumour which grew round her--and Donington

The one startling event of my twenty months at Donington Hall was when
the Military Attaché, Captain Papen, passed Great Britain, after having
left the United States as _persona non grata._

His training in diplomacy misled him once more: whilst travelling, for
his own all-important person, under British "safe conduct," his trunks
did not; and they were unkind enough in Falmouth to send to Whitehall
whatever letters, codes, copies, documents, counterfoils the enlightened
diplomat saw fit to carry across the seas.

The results were: a trail of ruin and misery for dozens and dozens of
Germans and others in America sympathetic to the German cause; and a
foaming with rage on the part of untold men interned in England, of the
two hundred officers interned in Donington Hall. Our "senior," a
Bavarian colonel, and a front-line officer, came to me to inquire how I
might account for such monstrous stupidity, such punishable negligence.

"What regiment does that fool come from?" he asked.

"First Regiment of Uhlans of the Guard, sir."

"That explains everything!"

This incident, however--by far more serious than Geheimrat Albert's nap
in the New York "Elevated," after which he found himself minus his
attaché case containing "unpleasant" documents which the _New York
World_ published the day after--was soon to prove for me personally,
nothing short of a disaster. Whatever links were still missing, where
proof, or at least alleged proof, was required by the American
authorities, to bring me and my helpmates to trial, Papen had been
graciously pleased to furnish them!

Days of worry followed restless nights for me. Had not Admiral Hall
sarcastically remarked to me in London: "You fell into our hands through
your Attaché's recklessness!" A time, full of sinister forebodings, went
on until the Zimmermann Note was published in February, 1917. When the
United States declared war against Germany I grew very depressed. Things
seemed to be very black for me, and I was haunted by the ghost of Huerta
as Macbeth was haunted by the ghost of Banquo, and he was accompanied by
the shades of the men who had been my comrades across the Atlantic. It
did not help to cheer me up when the Commandant of the camp came to me
one day, smiled mockingly and showed me a newspaper.

"Now we know what you were doing over there," he said. "Here is your
name. I see you wanted to hound Mexico against America."

I had an intuition that I was going to be extradited to the United
States. My companions ridiculed me. Were there not, after conferences
specially held at The Hague, in the midst of war, between British and
German Foreign Office and War Office representatives, clearly defined
rules established as regards prisoners of war? Was there not--so
expressed themselves some reserve officers, lawyers in civilian
life--the altogether thorny problem of extradition? No such thing could
possibly occur in my case; for not only would that be contrary to all a
law, to all existing treaties, but, besides, there remained always the
weapon of reprisals in the hands of the German Government.

Many a year later I learned almost accidentally that the intention to
surrender me to America had been discussed there, for political reasons,
for purposes of propaganda among the--even as late as early in
1917--still unwilling population of the United States. "Might goes
before right!" and the end sanctifies the means. A presentiment of
misfortune came over me.

I began to be superstitious. I had been captured on Friday, August 13th,
and I could not get rid of the obsession that the coming Friday, April
13th, would bring me bad luck. When this day arrived I went about in an
ill humour, and as I was sitting in my room in the evening with a few
friends my foreboding was fulfilled.

Friday, the 13th, brought me bad luck again. In spite of all my protests
to the Commandant and the representations of the other German officers,
I was to be taken from the camp--and to my regret, not entirely because
I knew what was waiting for me!

For I personally, without being in any way a spoiled child, was
generously treated by the Commandant. This again was not so much due to
the fact that I had been frequently in England before, and knew the best
and worst about that country, but because a report had come to hand that
my brother Ludwig, the Commandant of a camp for British Officers in
Germany, had proved to be not only "Hun," which he couldn't help, but a
gentleman besides.

Apropos, Hun: I can assure my readers that the news of the, shall I call
it grotesque, execution of Nurse Cavell seemed most revolting to the
vast majority of the inmates of Donington Hall. Many front-line officers
openly declared that they would have flatly refused, had they been
called upon, to order a firing squad to shoot a woman; others, like
myself, were grieved as well over the gross miscalculation of the
British Spirit--oh! _that_ miscalculation!

* * * * *

Amid the uproar of the prisoners' camp, the _auf wiedersehen_
celebrations of that night, the Hock and the Moselle, I managed to slip
away to my room for a few quiet minutes. I could not keep myself from

"Where is this leading?" I asked myself. "Why had I merely stood by,
when some others had tried to escape through the famous tunnel of
Donington Hall? I might have been more successful than they, once beyond
the barbed-wire fences!"

It's too late to consider that now; so let's go! The carbolic acid bath
of 1918 seems not to have been sufficient: in 1917 there must be
Purgatory thrown in as well.

"Grand Hotel": Atlanta

In the head-lights of a motor car I saw armed English soldiers, and was
driven away from "dear old Donington Hall," followed by the good wishes
shouted out to me by my fellow-prisoners. The drive ended at Nottingham,
where I was taken on board a train. I was surrounded by soldiers and
detectives to protect me from the civil population, who looked menacing.
When we reached Liverpool I received permission to telephone to Admiral
Hall. When I was connected I said:

"I only want to tell you that this is a mean trick you are playing. I
ask you to countermand the order at once. You must know that prisoners
of war are not allowed to be taken through the battle zone. The U-boat
blockade is a battle zone."

"You sail for America this morning," he replied. "I have nothing more to
say to you at present."

He hung up the receiver, while I fired a few curses at his head.

My escort still had their bayonets fixed, and accompanied me at three
paces interval to the left and right until we boarded the White Star
Liner _Adriatic._

The irony of this situation could not have been brought home to me more
forcibly than by remembering what the _Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger_ had said
but a few months before:

"Rintelen is in no great danger; he is interned as a prisoner of war in
England, and the endeavours of the American Government to obtain his
extradition have failed."

And now I was on my way to America!

I pulled myself together, and it became clear to me that I could no
longer escape my fate. We started off in a queer way. The Captain
invited the officers on board to lunch, and I sat there in my German
uniform among dozens of Allied officers of numerous nations and all
branches of the Service. None of them was _au fait_ with all the various
little differences in dress, and it did not occur to anybody that I was
a German.

We left harbour in the evening. I stood on deck with the British officer
who was accompanying me as my escort and had orders to hand me over to
the American authorities. Like all the others, I had put on mufti, and I
was glad when the Englishman told me that no one except the Captain and
himself was aware that I was a German officer.

We had hardly left the harbour when we turned back, because U-boats were
supposed to be in the vicinity. We left harbour and turned back a number
of times before we eventually got under way. We were escorted by a dozen
patrol-boats of the Royal Navy, for we carried about a hundred British
officers, from admirals and generals down to second lieutenants, who
were being sent across as military instructors for the American Army and
Navy. We were preceded by a large ship, the _Olympic,_ with Mr. Balfour,
the head of the War Mission to the United States, and a whole staff of
civilian officials on board. I cannot describe how for days I hoped that
the two vessels would be stopped by one of our U-boats. My hopes,
however, were vain.

I fumed at a brutal precaution which my escort was compelled to take by
the Admiralty. He locked me in my cabin every evening, and if the ship
were torpedoed I should have been drowned like a rat. I had a scene with
the officer, and we both got so agitated that it looked as if we should
come to blows, but at last I succeeded in persuading him to leave my
cabin door open at night.

There was only one woman on board, who had been permitted, as an
exceptional case, to cross on the _Adriatic._ Her husband was on Mr.
Balfour's staff on the _Olympic._ As the English officers were occupied
mainly in playing cards and looking out for submarines, it was reserved
for me to devote my time to her. She astonished me one day, as we were
sitting at tea, by leaning towards me and whispering a secret in my ear:

"Do you know, they say there's a Hun on board!" "Good heavens," I
replied, "that _would_ be exciting. Let us go and look for him."

Strange to relate, we were unable to find him. At last we met my escort,
the English officer, and she addressed him reproachfully:

"They say there's a Hun on board. Do you know anything about it?"

I added hurriedly: "Yes, just imagine. We have been looking for him."

He stared at us, standing arm-in-arm, and then grinned as he said;

"All sorts of things happen on big ships."

Every one on board suffered from a U-boat psychosis, and I was also
infected. It was not at all improbable that we should meet a German
submarine, and I had an idea which I was unfortunately unable to put
into practice. I sewed together a black, white and red flag out of
ribbon and other materials, which I intended to tie round my waist if we
should be held up by a U-boat. It was very unlikely that I should have
time to make an elaborate speech to the officers who came on board, and
somebody would be bound to stand behind me to prevent me from attracting
their attention. If we all had to parade on deck I would open my coat,
and it was certain that any German officer would inspect more closely a
man wearing a black, red and white flag round his waist on an English
auxiliary cruiser.

We saw neither U-boats nor German officers, however, and at last the
American coast came into sight, and I, much to my resentment, was
handcuffed and taken ashore in uniform under the cross-fire of a battery
of cameras, which took my photograph for the New York evening papers.

I appeared before the District Attorney.

Detectives and police officials were waiting for me in a large room, but
I refused to open my mouth until the handcuffs were taken off. I then
protested against the way I had been treated, and demanded to be
regarded as a prisoner of war, but I was told curtly that I was a civil
prisoner. I therefore refused to say another word. As a result I was
taken away and left to myself in a cell. Next morning I was brought
before the representative of the Attorney-General of the United States,
who came straight to the point.

"You will remember," he said, "that you were in America in 1915. You
must permit me to read out the charges against you. Do you remember
having known Dr. Scheele and the Captains Wolpert, Bode, and Steinberg?"

I held my tongue.

"Do you not recollect that you committed acts of sabotage against
munition transports by means of incendiary bombs manufactured by this
Dr. Scheele? Don't you remember having damaged the rudders of munition
transports by means of an apparatus constructed by a certain Mr. Fay?"

"I remember nothing."

"That is a great pity. Perhaps, however, you will call to mind having
founded a trade union called 'Labour's National Peace Council,' in order
to corrupt our dockworkers by the organisation of strikes? Of course,
you never had an interview with General Huerta at the Manhattan Hotel!
You never heard of the firm of 'E. V. Gibbons,' or the 'Mexico
North-Western Railway'! You were never on friendly terms with one of the
most distinguished members of the New York Bar Association, Mr.
Boniface, who put his comprehensive legal knowledge at your disposal?"

I kept my mouth shut and said nothing. I was very uneasy, but I told
myself it was by no means certain that they could prove everything they
were trying to assert.

The Attorney appeared to read my thoughts. He gazed at me a while and
then said:

"Come a little nearer, please. Let us have a quiet talk. You see, up to
a short time ago we were convinced that there were some men here at work
putting incendiary bombs on ships, calling men out on strike,
negotiating with Mexican and Irish leaders, and carrying out all sorts
of activities whose purpose was to help Germany, but which infringed the
laws of this country. I must offer you my compliments. We know that all
these happenings were directed or carried out by you.

"While you were still in America and violating our laws, we were unable,
in spite of our most zealous efforts, to bring either you or any of your
agents to book. It was only after some time we found your trail. Of
course, we had been suspecting you for some time. You were watched, but
we could never discover the slightest positive proof. The situation was
changed suddenly when this book came into our hands. Take a look at it,

"As an intelligent man, you will not fail to notice that it is a
cheque-book. Do me the favour to examine closely the different entries.
It was very instructive to me to learn the names of the people to whom
the owner of this book had paid out sums of money. I presume a perusal
will help to refresh your memory. If you should happen not to recognise
the handwriting, permit me to offer you the following information.

"This is a cheque-book that was formerly in the possession of Captain
Papen, then German Military Attaché in Washington. He appears to have
had a mania for preserving all his cheque-books, and he had the
brilliant idea of taking them with him to Germany when he was recalled
at the request of the United States Government as being no longer
_Persona grata._ You may be of the opinion that it was an unfriendly act
on the part of the English to extract these cheque-books from his
diplomatic luggage. But please turn over the pages."

I opened the book. It consisted only of counterfoils of the cheques
which Captain Papen had made out. As I turned them over I suddenly had a
dreadful shock. I saw clearly written the following entry: "To Dr.
Scheele, $10,000." I remembered that item and knew for what purpose von
Papen had made out the cheque. It had been a rather harmless affair, and
I had had nothing to do with it personally. I was certainly of the
opinion that it was an unfriendly act on the part of the English to
confiscate this book, as the Attorney had suggested, but my mind was
dominated by the unshakeable conviction that Captain Papen, in failing
to destroy it, had perpetrated a blunder of such stupendous idiocy that
he would never be able to atone for it as long as he lived.

"I see," said the Attorney, "that you have stopped at a certain
counterfoil. I assume that you know a number of the people to whom these
sums of money were paid. But at any rate you are looking at the entry
which says that Captain Papen paid ten thousand dollars to Dr. Scheele.
I will therefore tell you, briefly and to the point, that we have
arrested this Dr. Scheele. He was sensible enough to answer our
questions. In other words, he has confessed. He has told us everything
about your activities in this country, and it is really unnecessary for
you to say anything at all. We know enough to secure a conviction so far
as you are concerned.

"There is one other matter which will be of interest to you. Dr.
Scheele's admissions enabled us to arrest all your friends. One said
this and another said that, but I can assure you we know enough.

"Will you therefore talk, or do you prefer to keep silent?"

I preferred to keep silent, and was sent back to prison. I passed the
night visualising what would happen if I could suddenly have the vast
pleasure of being alone in my cell with Captain Papen!

Friends engaged one of the most celebrated lawyers in America, Mr George
Gordon Battle, to undertake my defence. I cannot overstate my gratitude
to this splendid man. In the middle of the Great War he was willing to
risk much more than his wide popularity by undertaking the defence of a
German officer on trial in an enemy country. He and his friend, the late
Mr. Massey, proved the staunchest of allies and friends to me throughout
those trying years and times. At our first interview he looked me up and
down for a moment and said:

"Before I decide to undertake your defence, you must answer one
question. Have you resolved to admit everything or do you intend, as a
German officer, to say 'No' to everything?"

I told him that I intended to say nothing at all. He agreed to defend
me, and immediately decided to send the following letter to the
Attorney-General in Washington, Mr. Gregory:

"New York,
"May 1st, 1917

"In the matter of Capt. Franz von Rintelen, for whom I am counsel, I
respectfully beg to call your attention to the fact that he is now
confined in the Tombs Prison, this City, while undergoing his trial upon
an indictment for violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law. Capt. von
Rintelen was a prisoner of war in England and was kept there with other
German officers in comfortable and dignified quarters, He was sent to
this country by the English Government without any extradition
proceedings and to that extent he claims his status is continued as a
prisoner of war. He is now confined in the Tombs under circumstances of
great discomfort and indignity. The conditions of the prison are dirty
and are most unbecoming. He is thrown in with the lowest class of
criminals. He is an officer in the German Navy and it seems highly
improper that he should be confined in such surroundings. He is
subjected to constant filthy abuse from his fellow-prisoners in the
Tombs. If he can be kept in the Military Prison at Governor's Island he
will be equally secure, and I think if he is so confined our Government
will occupy a more dignified position. I think such treatment should be
accorded to a naval officer of Germany. John Z. Lowe, who is also a
counsel for Capt. von Rintelen, went to Washington last night for the
purpose of bringing this matter to your attention. I would come in
person, except for the fact that I am actually engaged in the trial of a
case. I earnestly hope that you will instruct the Marshal of the
Southern District of New York to have Capt. von Rintelen so confined in
the Military Prison at Governor's Island.

"(Signed) Geo. Gordon Battle."

I joined in the bombardment by writing post haste to His Excellency the
British Ambassador, Sir Cecil Spring Rice, at Washington:

"Your Excellency,

"Permit me to lay before you the following.

"On the 13th of April I was brought over here from England, presumably
at the request of the Department of Justice of the United States. Until
then I was interned at Donington Hall, Derby, as an officer prisoner of
war. Before sailing I was distinctly told that by the procedure
described I would _ml_ lose my legal status as prisoner of war. Since my
arrival in America, however, I am not being accorded the treatment that,
I think, I am entitled to as a naval officer of Germany, and which up to
the present has been accorded vice-versa to officer prisoners of war by
both Germany and England: I am being carried handcuffed through the
streets of New York day after day; I am confined in the Tombs Prison
under circumstances of great discomfort and indignity; the conditions of
the prison are dirty and most unbecoming; I am thrown in with partly the
lowest class of criminals, and repeatedly subjected to filthy abuse by
some of them. Thus it seems, no matter what I am being tried for since
my arrival, highly improper that an officer who has been in the active
service of either navy in the course of the War, and subsequently become
a prisoner of war, should be confined in such surroundings.

"Now, since my legal status as a German officer prisoner of war in
English captivity seems not to be challenged by anybody, and as I am
therefore under English authority, unless otherwise stated, I take
liberty in asking your Excellency to see to those conditions being
altered and brought up to a decent standard, on a level with such
conditions as have been heretofore considered proper by both Germany and

"Expressing to you, sir, my sincere thanks for your intervention on my

"I have the honour to be, your Excellency,

"Respectfully yours,


In vain! I was to become definitely a "common" prisoner!

* * * * *

My trial furnished the American newspapers, great and small, with
abundant news for weeks. It began on May 5th, 1917. During my
preliminary examination I had firmly insisted that I was innocent, and
had not admitted any of the charges which were laid against me. The
court in which my trial took place was a large rectangular room with
wide windows and an arched roof. At one of the longer sides was a raised
platform, with a chair for the judge which dominated the whole room.

He sat enthroned alone, in a black robe, and to right and left of him
were large portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. On the
right-hand side of the room was a large raised bench for the jury. In
the centre, in front of the judge, stood a long table for the
accommodation of the accused and their advocates, while the journalists
sat at a smaller table on the left. One side was shut off by a barrier,
behind which crowded the spectators.

The trial, in which I was the chief figure, was by no means on my
account alone. The American police had done a great deal of work in the
meantime. The case was _Government of the United States_ v. _Captain
Rintelen and Accomplices._ The charge was Violation of the Federal Laws
under the following counts:

Endangering of transport at sea.

Transporting and storing of explosives within the territory of the
United States without a police licence.

Violation of the Strike Laws by founding an illegal and fictitious trade

Endangering the security of the United States by Contriving war plots
with a foreign power (Mexico).

Endangering the good relations between the United States and other
Powers with which she was on friendly terms by contriving rebellions
within the territory of these Powers (Ireland--Great Britain).

Altogether about thirty men were charged during the various stages of
the trial, including Captain Wolpert, Herren Daeche, Fay, Binder, Uhde,
Captain von Kleist, Dr. Scheele, the melancholy Mr. Boniface, and the
engineers Herren Schmidt, Becker, Praedel, and Paradiess of the German
steamer _Friedrich der Grosse,_ who were accused of endangering
transport at sea. There were also charges under this count against six
German captains and engineers of a German shipping-line, but they had
managed to get away in time.

Other accused persons were the executive of "Labour's National Peace
Council," the members of Congress Buchanan and Fowler, who had had to
resign over the affair, and the former Attorney-General Monnett, who
were all charged with being concerned in the founding of the trade
union, and the notaries who had furnished their signatures and their
seals for the purpose of obtaining the necessary documents. The plot
with Mexico was laid to my account alone, since Huerta was dead, but the
Irish intrigue was to be atoned for by Jeremiah O'Leary as well. These
more important prisoners were flanked by a row of lesser sinners.

The trial lasted for weeks. I sat next to my lawyer and listened, and
hoped that it would eventually come to an end. I maintained the attitude
I had promised at my first interview with Mr. Battle, and said nothing.
I let him do the talking, and he succeeded in turning many doubtful
points to my advantage.

On the other hand, however, I was in an impossible position. I was
charged with a large number of activities of which I was innocent,
particularly matters which had been instigated by Captain Papen, but
which I should have to pay for. It would have been quite simple for me
to rebut them, for I only had to say who had been responsible, but I
could not do that--I could not, as German officer, betray a comrade!

The trial drew towards its end and the accused were overwhelmed. There
was not much of us left when it was over. When the Attorney for the
prosecution ease to address the jury we were all very uneasy. I myself
had special reasons for viewing the future pessimistically when he began
to occupy himself with my person.

He depicted the damage I had caused, and I still feel proud when I
recall how he showed that I nearly succeeded in preventing the munition
shipments over a long period through the organisation of a general
strike. I still get excited when I remember how he expressed his
gratitude to Captain Papen for delivering us all up to American justice
by his confounded carelessness! He then summed up my activities once
more, and after he had taken a deep breath he demanded for me a sentence
of four years' penal servitude.

It was poor consolation when he proceeded to honour me with the
following remarks: "I regret having to demand such a heavy penalty
against this German officer. He has, as he believes, only done his duty.
But in doing so he has violated the laws of the land, and the punishment
I have demanded is therefore fitting. Let us, however, utter no harsh
words. We have nothing but respect for him."

There was an interval of three days between the speech of the Attorney
for the prosecution and the verdict, a period which I occupied by
reading all the American newspapers I could get hold of. While one group
of papers declared that it was unjust to demand a sentence of penal
servitude against a German officer who was a prisoner of war, other
journals attacked me bitterly. One headline ran: "What the Kaiser Wanted
was Carried Out by Captain Rintelen with a Bloody Hand."

I hurled the "bloody hand" into a corner and picked up another paper:
"Kaiser Demands Repatriation of Captain Rintelen."

I read in this paper that the German Government had threatened reprisals
if I were sent to penal servitude. My hope that this would help was,
however, shattered when I read that Mr. Lansing, the Secretary of State,
had replied with pleasant irony that Germany, should not indulge in any
false ideas concerning the effect of her note on my behalf. There were
more German nationals in the United States than there were American
troops fighting in Europe. It might be possible to organise a
competition to see who could imprison the greater number of people. This
was the end. The American public has a good head for figures!

I was solemnly sentenced to four years' penal servitude. When I was
asked if I had anything to say, I stood up. Feeling that Germany could
not be defeated, I cried in exasperation:

"This will not help you to win the War."

'The judge also jumped up and shouted:

"I regret nothing more than the fact that the law of the United States
does not permit me to sentence you to death."

"I don't regret it at all," I replied.

He looked at me with a hard stare and gave a sort of grunt. I did not
require anything else; the warder put on the handcuffs before leading me

That was in May, 1917.

After all these distressful days I still remain deeply grateful to
Attorney John C. Knox, who is now a judge, for all the consideration he
showed me.

One more cloud appeared on the horizon, and that was when the British
forces, under General Allenby, had rolled up the Turkish front in
Palestine, in the autumn of 1918.

The pursuing cavalry came across a tent, the occupant of which had taken
to his heels, leaving behind whatever documents the British had not
taken away from him at Falmouth. Such perfect calm seemed to prevail
down there that the tent's occupant, Captain Papen of course, found time
and peace of mind for the filing of those "documents." A wire was sent
to London, and the reply read, so the papers had it: "Forward papers. If
Papen captured, do not intern; send him to lunatic asylum." The British
and American Press roared!

Copies of those papers found their way soon afterwards to New York and
Washington; and a new indictment against me was the sequence. Still, the
American authorities had a sense of humour too, and amidst the derisory
laughter over the ill-fated German officer's retreat in Palestine, the
charge against the German officer in residence at Atlanta was dropped.

* * * * *

Space allows only a few fleeting comments on what happened to me, ever
since I "landed" in prison in America.

From jail to jail was I dragged--or, rather, as I styled it, as I was
not brought _by right_ from England to America, invited by one "hotel"
after the other, until finally it was decided that the "Grand Hotel" was
the most suitable place for me to stay at--the Federal Penitentiary at
Atlanta, in the State of Georgia.

When I arrived in Atlanta, with the two detectives who had travelled
with me by rail for forty hours, I decided at once that I did not like
the town at all. We drove through it and finally came to a large
building which stood in the midst of maize-fields. It had a façade like
a palace, but it was a prison. For years I wore a blue linen jacket,
blue linen trousers, shoes made of sail-cloth and a broad-brimmed hat. I
lived in a cell together with international forgers, thieves,
pickpockets and smugglers. My number was 8891, and at first some of the
other prisoners promised themselves considerable profit from the hurling
of stones at the head of the German captain who wore that number. They
were people who were anxious to curry favour with the prison
authorities; but when the aristocracy of the place--that is to say, the
respectable burglars, footpads and smugglers--discovered that I never
betrayed a fellow-prisoner, the situation quickly changed to my

During all these years I was treated like any other prisoner. I took my
"revenge" by standing guard when the others broke into the warders'
canteen to find something fit to eat. Many a celebrated criminal told me
of his deeds, but I kept my mouth closed. I trembled when the convicts
attacked a man who had betrayed a comrade and left him lying dead.

I had one surprise visitor in the person of Ronald Squire, who was sent
over from Donington Hall inquire into the welfare of its late guest. He
reminded me of the day when I had complained that the local dentist was
an incompetent plumber.

One morning I was given a new cell-mate; he was no longer a youngster,
and so I offered to him the lower "cot." He introduced himself as a
_Titanic_ survivor; it was the famous Doc Owen, the card-sharper, who
had succeeded in making his "get-away" from that ship, after having
overheard two stokers say: "The g.d. duck will sink in 'arf-an-hour." He
quickly helped himself to a bottle of whisky, made one of the victims of
his wits--who was himself drowned--give him a cheque for what he "owed"
him, and got into a lifeboat, which was picked up by some vessel. This
time, however, the "Doc" had been "caught with the goods" and had to
serve "at hard" in Atlanta.

Then there were two intelligent young men, severely sentenced for having
tried to sell forged French banknotes in New York. They had been living
in Paris during those anxious days of August, 1914; and their next field
of operations was London, where, during Zeppelin panics--they themselves
having nothing to lose on this earth--they rifled bedrooms wholesale,
whose occupants, male and especially female, had taken refuge in the
hotel's cellars.

Besides Eugene Debs, the Socialist, a fine old fellow indeed, and who
was rather outspoken in his political views, there were plenty of
anarchists and Bolshevists assembled in Atlanta: a "spiritual élite"
altogether, and quite interesting to talk to!

One of them, however, a little Jew from Galicia, had material interests
too. Having observed how two boiled eggs had been smuggled into the
pockets of my stylish coat--"Number 8891"--he felt a sudden pity for me
lest I might get punished for irregular possession of the eggs. For when
I found that they had "left" my pockets, his eyes smiled at me through
the habitual horn-rimmed spectacles: _"Herr Kapitän, ich habe
aufgegessen die Evidenz!"_

In the course of time I was put to work in the steam laundry and the
cotton factory; then I worked at the cement-press, in the quarry, and in
the stone-mill, which is a hell where men toil in a thick cloud of
stone-dust which penetrates into every pore; and I have seen a couple of
dozen negroes rise in revolt which lasted until they were hit by the
bullets of the warders and fell writhing to the ground.

I have learned to know American prisons. I have seen how the prisoners
are treated, and, God knows, I can understand when now and then such
revolts are reported. I can imagine that a convict prefers to meet his
end under machine-gun fire than remain for fifteen years in a place
which is a ghastly hell on earth.

Sometimes of an evening I would lie back in as comfortable a posture as
I could achieve, and think over the events of the past few months.

There is an adage which states categorically that "the influence of
cheerfulness upon success is well shown in time of war."

I certainly felt like laughing that one off...! I was the insider here
and also the outsider. I had no business to be where I was, but I was
most certainly there, and with every opportunity of thoroughly
experiencing everything that any common prisoner might...with the
added comfort of knowing myself, and knowing that my judges knew, that I
was there _under false pretences,_ in direct contravention of all civil
or military law.

* * * * *

Though I said on a previous occasion in my narrative that it was the
saddest moment in my life when I was captured by the British on Friday,
August 13th, 1915, I feel I must revise my opinion.

I do not know whether the British Admiralty and the British Foreign
Office, who had agreed to my extradition to America, contrary to all law
and to international agreements, did realise, beforehand that the
Americans might treat me as roughly as they actually did...

There I was on board the _Adriatic,_ running into the Port of New York,
and, of course, had put on my naval uniform, as the mufti, which all on
board had worn, had been more or less donned only on account of the
ravaging of our U-boats.

In came two fierce-looking American detectives and without many further
words handcuffed me. Only those who have ever been handcuffed--and most
of my readers never have been--can possibly imagine the horrible
sensation it gives one. A bear on a chain is a thousand times freer than
a man handcuffed to the wrist of a detective; and, of course, those two
fellows, though later they turned out to be quite decent chaps, thought
it was a great stunt to drag me along the deck before the eyes of the
other passengers.

And who was there to meet us, when we came up the staircase, but my fair
fellow-passenger, the only lady who was on board the _Adriatic,_ whose
husband was in the _Olympic_ ahead of us as a member of Lord Balfour's
War Mission to America. She leaned against the railing below,
dumbfounded--Macbeth having to see Banquo's ghost must have seemed
child's play to her at that moment.

I, myself, shall never forget my journey from the Pier to the Federal
Building in Park Row, and from there to the Tombs Prison.

What a beautiful name!

It was given this name in a former time when the prison consisted of
actual dungeons, and now it was a sinister-looking fortress. After brief
formalities--for up to this moment I was only a "suspect," and not yet
a convicted prisoner--I was conducted to a cell, and with a rattling
bang the iron barred door slammed in its lock. There was a small dirty
cot, and simply abhorrent surroundings--appalling iron walls and an iron
roof, all more or less dirty--a filthy wash-basin, and many other little
things to prove that many a man had been there before, and they not such
who laid the average stress on cleanliness.

In the course of time I measured this beautiful hole, and found it to be
just five paces long and just two paces from cot to wall.

Fortunately, they had permitted me to carry one of my hand-bags with me,
containing at least the barest of toilet necessities; and, more
fortunately still, while searching the bag they had mistaken small a
bottle of brandy for eau-de-Cologne. Undescribable was the feeling of
abhorrence at these surroundings, and undressing seemed impossible in
this mass of filth, with vermin crawling about the bedclothes and in the
straw bag politely labelled "mattress." With the help of a sip of
brandy--and I was very careful not to take too much at a time, as I did
not know how long this bottle would have to be my "spiritual
support"--and with a good hearty oath against the British Admiralty, and
Sir Reginald Hall in particular, whom all the time I considered to be
the villain in the piece--I fell asleep after the extraordinary
experiences of this first day.

But, alas! there was not much sleep to be had, as the well-fed passenger
of the _Adriatic_ seemed to be a particularly attractive morsel for
the--I am sorry to say it right here--lice. Instead of throwing myself on
the cot in all my clothes, I ought to have gone stark naked to this
so-called bed, for from now on the lice made their headquarters in my
naval uniform, my shirt and my underwear. When a few days later my
splendid lawyer and adviser, Mr. George Gordon Battle, came to the
prison for an interview, one of these charming little animals, quite red
after it had soaked itself full of "Hun" blood, actually crawled up my
neck, straight across my face and looked surprisedly at Mr. Battle, who,
because of the surroundings to which he was accustomed, could not
imagine that such a thing really existed, and probably only recognised
it as something he had heard of during the Natural History lesson when
at school.

No wonder that after this first restless night I was simply foaming with
rage because the British had delivered me into this mess, and that the
Americans did not for a single moment pay any attention to the fact
that, after all, they might place their own officers, who might later
become prisoners in German hands, in a similar awkward position.

Not only had Mr. George Gordon Battle sent in his protest in detail in
his letter to the U.S. Attorney-General, but there was one great friend
of mine who was revolted over the whole business, and that was Admiral
Albert P. Niblack, who had been American Naval Attaché at Berlin until
shortly before the outbreak of the War, and had been repeatedly a guest
at my house, as I had at his.

In fact, after having tried vainly to influence Joseph Daniels, the
Secretary of the Navy, he went straight to Franklin D. Roosevelt, then
Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and from what I know of my late friend
Niblack he did not mince his words, and it is fair to suppose that
Roosevelt was made to see the whole affair from all angles. But with no
avail: Mr. Gregory, the Attorney-General, remained adamant. "Rintelen
has committed his offences, if not Crimes, during America's neutrality
period, and punishment will be meted out to him as if no state of war
existed between the two countries. He will remain a common prisoner and
not a prisoner of war."

_Some_ "construction," after once America had declared war! But I was
quick to realise that this whole thing was nothing but a piece of
propaganda. Whenever during the neutrality period a horse had slipped in
the streets of New York, rumour had it that this was arranged by German
spies! But the American people would not believe all this, and thought
it was merely newspaper stuff "made to order." Now here they had the
arch-villain in their hands, and the papers--morning, noon and
night--had headlines increasing in size as the case went on, and
gradually the public became convinced that any Germans who had stayed in
America from 1914 to 1917 had occupied themselves with plots, nothing
but plots.

Day after day went by, and I was still in the Tombs Prison, and had to
go in the shower-bath with many human wrecks abhorrent to look at
physically, among them men of all and formerly of all stations of life.
Disgusting and degrading it was, and yet frightfully pitiful; but after
a few days elapsed I decided to bite my lips and stick it out--as long
as my country was winning this War, and as long as every morning brought
us news of how much more Allied shipping had been sent to the bottom.
For in the Tombs Prison one was allowed to read newspapers, as most of
the inmates were only charged with crimes and not yet convicted.

In turn, however, as there were no servants or even maids around, we had
to scrub the floor ourselves, to mop up the corridors and, worst of all,
to clean up that shower-bath now afloat with the filth of some hundreds
of people. Cigarette after cigarette helped one to bear up in this
atmosphere. In turn we had to go round the cells with "spray-guns" to
fight the vermin.

How much extra strain it puts upon all these men by having to dress up
decently in the morning when they are brought into criminal Courts, so
that they may make a good impression on judge and jury alike! Not one of
these eminent gentlemen actually realises that these suspects undergoing
trial have to put up a good appearance in order to live up to the word
of the Law, namely, that as long as a man is not convicted he is not
only innocent, but a respectable citizen!

But the Law in no country realises what it means to remain
"respectable," after having gone through nights and days in such
terrible circumstances, because in a good many cases men, who have in
the meantime been sentenced, remained detained in the Tombs until all
the formalities have been gone through. And then come their paroxysms of
depression, and rages of despair and revenge against what they naturally
consider injustice, for it goes without saying that 90 per cent of all
convicted men feel that they were unfairly treated and unjustly

Comes the question of their families, who are allowed to visit their
dear ones once in a while. At times these give reciprocal consolation,
but in so many other cases the visiting-room witnesses the most
heartrending of scenes--lives are ruined, families are broken asunder,
children have to be taken care of, money has to be found right and left
for the sustenance of the family, and for finding a lawyer to appeal the
case, while the accused man goes on hoping against hope.

Some convicted men give in to fate and put up with the sentences they
have received. In a great many cases the strain of fighting against
experienced judges and stony public prosecutors proves all too much for
the average man. Such men commence soliloquising--a habit which, by the
way, I became a victim to for quite some time, and even to this present
day I catch myself at times falling back into this bad habit. Men would
get up in the middle of the night and either recount at the top of their
voices the experiences which they had just gone through, or else prepare
a fulminant address to be delivered to the jury when under scrutiny and
cross-examination in the dock. I have witnessed the most terrible scenes
of that nature, with the orator throwing himself against the iron bars

There was one case I remember distinctly, when ten men, competitors in
the Poultry Market had, out of sheer greed and jealousy against one
other man, arranged an unbelievable plot and killed this unfortunate
man, who had sold chickens two cents below market price! The plot was so
fiendishly arranged, and the evidence had been so absolutely conclusive
that all of them had committed the murder or had aided in it, that after
one of them had given "State's evidence" the whole gang was actually
sentenced to the death which they had well deserved.

Never shall I forget the screaming and howling, the rage and despair of
these men, fathers of families, and some of them quite well-to-do, when
they saw before their eyes the electric chair, which they had risked
facing for a few cents on the market price of chickens! They yelled and
shouted, each accusing the other, and were locked up two together in
different cells, all the while cursing and swearing and trying to batter
down the walls with their heads, and rattling the doors in their
despair. "Let me out, let me out," they shouted to the warders. Some
shouted the names of their wives and their children, and all called down
Death and Hell's punishment upon the one man who had given evidence
against them.

Poor wretch, by so doing he just earned imprisonment for life and so
saved his skin, whilst actually all the men sentenced to death went, one
after the other, to the electric chair a few months afterwards!

While bringing back to my memory this ghastly crime, the severe justice
meted out to these men and the scenes which ensued, I can but once again
record my definite and absolute conviction that the penalty of death, if
carried out, is the only real and effective deterrent to deliberate
murder! While there is _life_ there is hope; and I have come across, in
my past "career," so many men who gave thanks to Heaven each morning
that they once more awoke alive--alive in the most miserable
surroundings, and bereft of all human kindness; but nevertheless--alive!

Men convicted of the most dastardly murders have narrated to me how they
felt when they were granted a reprieve. Some of those wretched "lifers"
were clinging from day to day to the faintest my of hope that a day
might come when they might be discharged, even though their families had
dispersed, and though they had nothing to hope for outside these prison
walls in a life for which they had become wholly unfitted through
decades of incarceration, as they were now nothing but human rags.

There is one thing which I observed, namely, that after a given period a
physical shrinkage sets in with convicts, so that about every five years
they have to be given an entirely new outfit. My readers will not
believe it, but after the four years that I "did time" I simply
"drowned" in my beautiful dress clothes which had been made by a
well-known tailoring firm in Bond Street! From top to bottom, hat, suit
and shoes, all my measurements had to be readjusted to my new
proportions. I was by no means "husky," as the Americans say, but much
fuller than I am nowadays. Physically, Nature had gifted me with an
India-rubber frame, and mentally I had the one great determination to
win through and to survive it all, to keep fit and, above all, never to
admit to myself that I was actually in jail.

In fact, I lived in a state of self-deception, and it was not only
sarcasm, but the result of this state of mind, that when addressing the
American authorities I referred to the Tombs as "the hotel to which you
were graciously pleased to invite me," and when finally I landed in the
great Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta the men in the Department of
Justice in Washington seemed a little hurt when I called it the "Grand
Hotel"--they did not realise that my underlying idea was that there
_could_ be no such thing as a penitentiary for me. As a German officer I
considered I had done nothing but my duty, which had consisted in
determination ever to prevent or delay shipments of munitions to Europe
in order to save the lives of my fellow-countrymen.

For my readers may believe me that unless a man, or a woman for that
matter, is innocent and has become a victim of a miscarriage of justice
and is sustained by his or her clear conscience--though in a great many
cases this is _not_ a sufficient stimulant in the long run--the vast,
vast majority of human beings, condemned to long sentences, are bound to
become definitely harmful to civilisation.

Believe me, judges and juries, alike--and, by the way, I should like to
mention I was a foreman on a jury in Berlin, long before I ever thought
I would become a convicted prisoner myself--think thrice before you mete
out these long sentences! Of course, there are men who are born
criminals and take things lightly; but what is the use of huddling
together men or women of all ages, when the juniors are nothing but raw
High School pupils sitting in front of professors, of "_Membres de
l'Académie_"? What a lack of wisdom it is to put together wretched
creatures, such as our notorious criminals, into the same surroundings
and abode along with people who have committed what the French rightly
call "_crimes de passion,"_ and, therefore, _are not_ criminals in the
true sense of the word, or--more abhorrent still according to my
views--with young fellows who pull off some stunt or do mischief for the
sake of their girls, perhaps stealing a ring to make her happy--or even
with poor people who, out of sheer want, steal a loaf of bread out of a
baker's shop!

I think in giving these four different types I have fairly sized up the
population of prisons, and especially of prisons such as Atlanta or

No one can imagine my feelings, or condemn even my temptation to have a
"try," when one morning, during the time of my employment in the
blacksmith's shop, one of those gentlemen members of the venerable Guild
of Housebreakers, a man who had been in jail for thirty out of the fifty
years of his life, and who had been sentenced at least ten times--pulled
out of his pocket a heavy lock, threw it with a bang on the stone floor,
and shouted to all the youngsters, some of whom had possibly only sold
drugs in the streets of New York, or had Carried "liquor" from one
restaurant to another: "Now, boys, you try to open this lock; I have
been working on this in my cell for the last two months, and I bet you
five dollars none of you will be able to break that lock."

No, no, put all those who _are_ "habitual" within prison walls, but send
the rest of them, who have merely sinned against the Ten Commandments,
to some wide space of open air, among forests and fields--not swamps,
though!--and you will find that under the influence of nature, with all
its beauty and glory, they will become again respectable human beings
and valuable members of our civilisation.

Come, let us reason together, you judges and myself. What do all penal
codes say? They speak of so many years for such-and-such a crime, and
you sentence them, sitting on your benches, and you accept the fact that
your victims are getting their food and their drink, their clothes and
occasionally some recreation.

But has it ever occurred to you, living as you do as free men--and I
realise what I mean by using the word "men"--that no law and no penal
code lays down that a man should become an abstainer from the other sex?
You know that we men are meant by nature to be active, and you must see
what I am driving at. That is the crux of the whole question! That is
the punishment which is meted out, and it is far beyond what any human
being should ever mete out to his fellows; and I may respectfully remind
you that there is one State in this world where they have sense enough
to realise this greatest of all problems in our lives, and that
is--Mexico! Go and make inquiries for yourselves how beautifully they
have solved that problem there. What happens in women's prisons I do not
know, but passion does not die out because people are made to enter
prison doors. The result of it all is that all those prisons are
hot-beds of immorality, and nothing short of it--and our "_courts_" see
to that!!

I hope and trust that my publishing an account of my many years "at
hard," and of my stay in five different American prisons, along with my
views on this essentially human problem of prison life, may have at
least this one result--that _this_ problem be tackled courageously and
solved, and, finally, that all the sheer humbug talked on this subject
will be condemned, as I have condemned it, before and after
imprisonment, as hypocrisy, and nothing but hypocrisy!

* * * * *

I shall never forget how ptomaine poisoning once broke out in the
prison. In order to fill his own pockets the governor had bought meat
which had already been rejected by a military commission. But this was
nothing to the conditions which prevailed in the winter of 1918. The
"White Death" made its way through the prison gates and raged with
merciless persistence. The "White Death" was Spanish influenza, and the
prison became a cross between a madhouse and an inferno. Dozens of
convicts died, and still the infirmaries were full. The dying lay on the
ground, on the bare stones, where hastily improvised mattresses had been
thrown down, and there they twisted and shrieked in their death-agonies.

When the plague was at its height, a number of Germans were brought in
who helped me three years before, in 1915. Among them was Bünz, the
former Consul-General of New York, who was seriously ill. He had been
sentenced for furnishing German cruisers with coal from American
harbours. In his defence he put forward the fact that millions of shells
and innumerable tons of coal had been sent out of American harbours on
British ships; but this did not help him, and he was condemned to penal
servitude for violating American neutrality.

I returned one day from my work in the quarries, and found him in my
cell. I got a shock when I saw him, and we fell into each other's arms,
for I could see straight away that he was very sick. One night I shouted
in despair for the warders, for I realised that Bünz was dying. He was
taken to the infirmary, and was carried out next day dead. To die at the
age of seventy, in prison!

Captain von Kleist came to Atlanta about the same time as Bünz. I spoke
to him, but he did not answer, and he went about as though dazed. I did
not learn until later what had made him like this. I heard that he had
had a complete mental breakdown. Some American detectives, who were
examining him before his trial, played him a horrible trick. They put a
narcotic into a glass of beer, and when he was in a state of
semi-consciousness, they got him to sign a document stating that I had
been at the head of all those activities which we had now to pay the
penalty for. Kleist felt fearfully ashamed; but why should I not, as
always, stretch out my hand to somebody asking forgiveness!

I arranged for the fine old man to share my cell; and what little I
could do for him--after all, one of the scores of victims of Papen's
recklessness too--that was only too gladly done. Fate was with me and
kept me in a supreme condition, both physically and mentally, throughout
those terrible four years. If only I could have parted with some of my
strength: too late--Captain Kleist finally died in my arms from general
debility! And before many more months had elapsed one of our most active
and patriotic agents, a writer, Stephan Binder, from Forchheim, in
Baden, succumbed to influenza.

Immediately afterwards the German-American bookseller Feldmann of New
York, died in a dreadful way. He had been sentenced for supplying
prohibited strike literature. He also fell a victim to influenza, at a
time when the infection was at its worst, and conditions in the
infirmary beggared description. He lay in bed with a high temperature;
and one night, when he was delirious, he got up, threw off all his
clothes, and went out quite naked, in the depth of winter, to the yard,
where he sat down. Next day he was found frozen to death. He was buried
at the same time as a German sailor who had died of ptomaine poisoning.

Those who did not survive are all lying by the prison wall of Atlanta. A
simple cross indicates the name and the prison number which each of them
bore while under sentence.

That sailor had, to the very last, refused to disclose, even to me, his
identity! He is, in the truest sense of the word, an Unknown Warrior.
"_Hoch kling' das Lied vom braven Mann!"_ Highly be praised those brave
of the brave! For the worst that could befall man, that befell them, who
either died or survived--for their country! Heroes they were and are!
But forgotten are their names and their deeds; and this book is written
in praise of their fame, in contempt of those "diplomats" and otherwise
whom "immunity" has saved from what they deserved a hundred times more
than those poor fellows!

* * * * *

When I looked at these crosses I was seized with sullen energy. They
should not bury my body there. I had to escape a prison death.

I was determined to get out of this "hole" alive! The sick list seemed
to be the only alternative, and from now on I was condemned to "light
diet," the menu of which consisted of porridge and toast--morning, noon
and night. As there were still 300 days' "time" ahead of me, the prison
become a "spa"--900 meals of porridge sustained me until the day I was
once more to be a free man. Assuredly _Hunger ist der beste Koch!_
_[Scanner's Footnote:_ Hunger is the best chef_]_

I took exercise in my cell and wherever possible.

Diplomatic immunity is a very fine phrase!--and I could have done with
some of it--for I had to protest very strongly on my own behalf against
what "diplomats" felt they could afford to say under cover of that

Twice did a telegram--in 1919 and in 1920, the "whitewash period" in
Berlin--make the following Grand Tour, from No. 8891, all that was left
of Rintelen, to...the Warden of the Penitentiary, to the Department of
Justice in Washington, to the Secretary of State, to the Swiss Legation
in Washington, then representing German interests in America, thence to
Berne, to the Swiss Government, from them to the Auswärtige Amt in
Berlin, to be handed to the President of the Reichstag.

Twice had I to protest, in the most outspoken fashion, against what I
called "the brave attacks upon a defenceless prisoner." Bernstorff and
Papen alike had told the Reichstag Committee the meanest of tales about
me and my mission. How angered I was, "doing time" in Atlanta--with two
more years before me!--by these wanton distortions of facts--for so they
seemed to me.

But still no answer came from Berlin; they knew how to forestall that,
and the shame of these cowardly attacks still rests upon those two.

And after a grey eternity the gates of Atlanta were opened. I stood
outside surrounded by reporters, whom I managed to evade, and eventually
reached New York, where I took a boat for home.

This was early in 1921.

The most bitter disillusionment awaited me. Nobody expected me. Nobody
was able to understand the psychology of a man who had passed the
transition period from war to peace in prison. When I spoke about the
War, in which alone I still retained interest, I discovered that
everyone else had almost forgotten it, and was living not for the past,
but for the future. For me war and fight were still realities, and my
world was in the past, and would still be, were it not for my beloved

When I had recovered from my disillusionment, there came the recognition
that man is not made immortal by what he destroys, but by what be

May the bombs we once employed never be brought forth again!

* * * * * * * * * *


"February 16th, 1921
"My dear Captain,

"It has given me the greatest pleasure to hear, at last, of your safe
return to this country. The Navy has always felt very closely the hard
fate which overlook you while attached to the Army. To-day, remembering
our work together on the Admiralty War Staff, I send you my warmest
congratulations on your return; and I do so in the name of all your
brother-officers and of the whole Navy. I hope that you will soon
recover from the consequences of the harsh treatment which you received
at the enemy's hands and that you will always recollect with
satisfaction the part which you played with such admirable devotion and

"While it is not within my province to thank you for the service which
you rendered to your country abroad, I do not hesitate, on behalf of the
Navy, to express to you my thanks for all you did. It is my hope that,
when your case has been given the necessary consideration, you will
receive recognition in some visible form. I am already in communication
with the former Ministry of War on the subject of your affairs, and will
draw its attention to that part of your report from which it is clear
that the release accorded to you by the American Government is in no way
to be regarded as a special favour, and therefore must certainly not be

"With every good wish,
"I remain, my dear Captain,
"Yours very sincerely,
"(Signed) Behncke,
"Admiral and Chief of the Admiralty."


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