- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 16 Apr 1925, p. 197-206
- Snyder, Frederick Merle, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Some observations by the speaker about what he sees happening in Germany today. Some of the things that have caused momentous happenings in Germany. First, paying respect to the men who have made it possible for a republic to be in Germany. The youth of Germany, resolved to maintain a republic, to set up a democracy, and work their way out of a policy of revenge. The Dawes reparation plan which must be taken up heartily by the young men who will soon be voting in Germany. The opportunity in Germany to make a world wide social experiment. The disarmed Germany. The bootlegging of guns and equipment by the old militaristic crowd. Proving that Germany can endure economically and politically without the aid of any army and navy of war proportions. Being a patriot in Germany and what that means today. The great power of the labor groups of Germany. Support from Dr. Marx. The exception of the communists' groups. The organization of military units by the communists. The communists on one hand, the monarchists and militarists on the other, and the great host of level headed people in between. The Dawes report as a doorway to peace. How the speaker was received in Germany; being protected by a group known as the Reichs Banner Society. Some words about this Society, which came into being to give police protection to the meetings promoting republican politics. Support for Hindenburg. The speaker's attempt to understand actual social conditions by living in humble homes. The speaker's experience in the richer homes. The new constitution. The teaching o peace in the public schools as a great ethical doctrine. Germany's progress in the re-establishment of trade. Ways in which Germany has profited from their poverty. The need in America, Canada and Great Britain to meet the tenacity of the German populace. Predictions for the Dawes report. Helping the right-minded people in Germany; encouraging the forces in France to accept this spirit.
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- 16 Apr 1925
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- Full Text
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN GERMANY
AN ADDRESS BY FREDERICK MERLE SNYDER.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
April 16, 1925.
PRESIDENT BURNS introduced the speaker.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,--In taking my train to come here I could not help thinking of the boy who, standing at a corner in old London, was accosted by a man who inquired where the Cathedral was. The boy was afflicted with stammering, and after he had directed the stranger, with great difficulty, he ventured to ask him if he knew how many people there were in London. The gentleman replied that he understood there were about seven million. The boy stammered out, "Then, why in thunder did you pick me out to ask me where the Cathedral was?" (Laughter)
I approach this subject with that feeling, very humbly, because it is a tremendous subject. I don't know that anyone really knows what is happening in Germany today, but I would like to bring before you some of my own observations. I do not ask
Mr. Snyder is a young American of Dutch and English Ancestry. He served as Secretary to the New York State Division of Aliens and later became Military Secretary of the State Commission for Military Training. Leaving State service he headed the public relations departments of several large corporations. In July, 1924, he volunteered to go to Germany and serve as an unofficial evangelist for the Dawes Plan for reparations. He went to eleven countries of Europe to determine public opinion concerning conditions in Germany. He then went to Germany and remained until October in vigorous effort in behalf of the Dawes Plan. He was an American delegate to the 27th Worlds Peace Congress held in Berlin in October. you to agree with me in the expression of some of my views. You know, we hold opinions; but convictions hold us. I am quite ready always to change my opinions, but quite slow to give up convictions. So when I express some opinions I do not ask you to agree with me. I just wish to help you in your thinking, out of my experience, because if there is anything that Canada or the world needs today, it is sane, constructive thinking. (Applause) I like to put on my little blackboard in front of my desk and try to remember it, this little ditty:
"How few there are of the thinking few Who really think, but think they do!"
(Laughter) So let us think for a minute about some of the things that have caused momentous happenings in Germany.
Now, I cannot vault over into the German situation without first paying my respects to the men who have made it possible for a republic to be in Germany. Somewhere along the war line the masterful British secret service disclosed a note from the German naval authorities; this note contained a line that fired the Allies like a slogan. It referred to the use of submarines against neutral shipping: "Sink and leave no trace." So we are quite apt to crawl into a submarine of selfishness, and while out on the busy high seas of life we launch a torpedo filled with forgetfulness, and very often we almost sink the good ship of patriotic devotion, but we cannot sink this ship and leave no trace. In this year 1925, and for many years to come, the sightless eye, the empty sleeve and the vacant chair will remain as traces to challenge us to increased devotion. These terrible traces are evidence of the fact that the great impact of the rush of Germans was met by stalwart men with the result that world unity has once more been established; because these brave men were determined that the rule of humanity and honor must prevail in the world. (Applause) I wish that the whole German junker menace could have been sunk without a trace. It has not been; so we must deal with it for a bit. Hindenburg is coming out now. I cannot think of him as anything but a Hinder-bug, for his chief aim has been to nullify the effectiveness of the new German republic. (Laughter)
Let us turn our attention to the enjoyable fact that the youth of Germany are thoroughly resolved to maintain a republic, to set up a democracy, and if you will give them half a chance, they will work their way out without a policy of revenge. The youth of Germany are striking out on a great experiment, handicapped by years of military history, by an oppressive home discipline that ruled the thinking and conduct of these young people to the point that they were saturated with the old German traditions. Alas, the three rolls of fat still are in evidence in the necks of the junkers, and the youth must contend with much. Do not cling to the idea that they intend to follow in the exact footsteps of their elders. An irate father said to his son who had been rather greedy at the table: "Do you know what a pig is?" The boy replied, "Yes, a pig is a hog's little boy." (Laughter) Now these boys of Germany are not going to be true sons of their fathers in respect to their fathers' blind subservience to the military doctrine.
This is the attitude of the outstanding leadership of the youth of Germany. Why do I stress the point of view of the youth? Because it is the youth who must eventually pay the war reparations. The Dawes reparation plan must be taken up heartily by the young men who will soon be voting in Germany. They must understand what reparations mean if they are to be managed in the future. The youth leaders are pointing out to them that they have a great opportunity to make a world wide social experiment. Here is a nation of 65,000,000 people who are actually disarmed for international warfare. At this point may I say that I really believe that the Allies have made a thorough job of disarmament of Germany. I have crossed the frontier at various points some sixteen times and have been in practically all of the large cities for a period of months. I returned in the latter part of October of this year quite ready to concur with the Ambassador from the United States to Great Britain, in his statement that Germany is for all military purposes disarmed. So I think it is an accepted fact and we may pass on to the use the youth of Germany will make of this circumstance.
Perhaps in passing I should acknowledge that I believe that there is a bootlegging of guns and equipment. The old militaristic crowd have street parades and memorial celebrations where they- carry and perhaps instruct with guns. Things of this sort will doubtless go on, for it is a physical impossibility for any power to ever completely disarm 65,000,000 people. The great challenge of youth is that they wish to enter a great world experiment and with a glow of enthusiasm they proclaim that they will prove that in this new day they will give loyalty to humanity before nationality. We will prove that Germany can endure economically and politically in this great day, without the aid of an army and navy of war proportions. They are willing to strive for a realization of this ideal. In this they very much need our help, in the work out of this experiment. They maintain that Germany can endure and that she will work her way back to the world's good opinion provided she elects to demonstrate that she will work and set up a great intellectual system that will make her supreme, rather than a power of force on land and sea.
This is the great ideal they have subscribed to and a young man must have courage to be a patriot in Germany. It is not difficult to be a patriot in the United States. In our elections we have some splitting of votes, but over there they have a manner of splitting heads on election day. The new flag is black, red and gold. The adoption of this new flag is evidence of their desire to sincerely set up another government. No external force compelled them to adopt a new type of flag. They have made gold the most conspicuous color in it; but there will be many black eyes to match the other color as a result of the vigorous campaign that will be waged at each election time. This coming campaign will be a very hectic one. I think that Hindenburg decided to stand for election only after he was certain that the people really intended to support a republican form of government. I rather feel that the fact that the Kaiser's three sons went to the polls and voted had something to do with bringing Hindenburg to a realization that the Republic had come to stay. In the meantime the Kaiser is in Holland, perhaps securing wooden shoes to match his wooden head (laughter); thus he is out of the political picture. I predict that Hindenburg will be defeated in this election as the people admire Dr. Marx. When I went to Germany, I found that they were new at republican campaign methods for catching public opinion. I tried to help them out by suggesting some of the American methods about which you may have heard. (Laughter)
The labor groups of Germany have great power. The unions are striving to maintain the Republic. They were always in support of President Ebert who was himself a product of the labor organization. The big leaders of German labor are for peace and for steadfastly working in behalf of the new government. They will support Dr. Marx for the most part. The big exception is the communists' group. They organize in an insidious way. They offer the laboring man something without regard to economic laws or patriotic service. Their methods are very vigorous. They set up in each factory what they call a cell, an organizer who in a biological sense attempts to permeate the entire organization. Thus the little plant of the republic is beset with many storms and is confronted with a great struggle for existence.
The communists organize military units as they believe in force and revolution to attain- their ends. The new government is exposed to the disease of communism on one hand and to the monarchists and militarists on the other. In between these groups there is a great host of level headed people: the tradesman, professional men and the men of the crafts.
I attended a number of big gatherings to explain to them the meaning of the Dawes report and to point out to them that herein was a doorway to peace. In fact a method whereby Germany might work her way out economically and adjust the whole muddle of reparations. Earnest speakers urged them to get behind the plan in every way, to hasten the coming of the day of peace and understanding. In speaking at these mass meetings I had to resort to the use of American "slanguage" in order to have them know that I was truly American and not a German from America. We spoke with the aid of an "interrupter" for this seemed to be the function of the translator. However the audience always caught the spirit of the meeting and cheered lustily every time the new black, red and gold flag was displayed. I have here in my hand a little trophy that I secured from an ardent republican at one of these great meetings. In order to conduct a meeting in the face of the opposition it was necessary to have a small army of body guards. One felt secure with a husky group of brewery workers and gentlemen of the strong arm fraternity standing about and rather longing for some ardent monarchist to say something adverse to the point of the meeting. I was as popular in some of these meetings with certain elements as Henry Ford would be at a convention of Rabbis. (Laughter)
I was constantly protected by a group known as the Reichs Banner Society. This organization came into being to give police protection to the meetings promoting republican politics. In the early days the monarchists were able to break up these meetings and to spread fear by display of military tactics. They went about with Iron Crosses and war uniforms and presented a formidable front to the peace advocates and caused them to seek some means of counteracting this display of force. They found it quite essential to become organized and to uniform; so they produced a crude sort of semi-military uniform, and thousands enlisted in the Reichs Banner Society. They pinned ribbons of the new national colors on their arms and caps, and this one I have here was clipped from the cap of one of my protectors. You will often see a young man coming along the street with a pin in his cravat bearing the new colors, black, red, and gold. He will soon meet another chap with a black, red and white emblem representing the old regime. The result is quite like the meeting between the wearer of an orange token with the wearer of a green one. (Laughter) When these two young men meet, a small war is started all over again. It takes courage to be a republican in Germany. They recognize that they are free from severe discipline which had held them in the past. Everyone desires to express himself in governmental affairs; doubtless this is the reason they have forty-seven political parties with thirty-eight women as members of the Reichstag. However in this election the real contest is between Dr. Marx and Hindenburg. The communists are also keen to elect their representatives during this election. Great organizations of the women folk have subscribed to a motto "To Will and to Work," that is, they desire to will and to work for a better day in Germany by promoting peace and doing their utmost to meet reparations payments. They are keen for the republican idea.
United these democratic groups number in the millions. The propaganda newspaper, "Der Republik," has about five million subscribers and peace literature reaches some ten millions. They are vigorously opposed by the militaristic press and the cries for revenge often rival the call to peace and understanding.
Hindenburg will be supported with huge funds and much press activity. However you can imagine the state of mind of an old time monarchist when he surveys a huge banner swung across the street by the progressives and bearing what translated is a slogan: "Do not Vote for William the Coward." This and similar slogans are displayed in windows and unfurled from auto trucks. The campaigns are very rough.
As I have said it is difficult to describe all that is happening in Germany. I have tried to guide your thinking. With communism growing and supported by Russia, with a Bolshevist bureau very active in the principal cities, supported by large sums, one can hardly tell what will happen in Germany. There are many in Germany who have feared that these violent elements would rise to a point of such power that they would fuse with Russia and while the new government was weak sweep in with a riotous revolution. The return of better working conditions and ample supplies of food in addition to police protection have made this fear more and more remote.
In order to understand actual social conditions I lived in humble homes. Here the scant menu of fish and poor vegetables impressed one with the fact that German working folk are still a long way from the ease and comfort which were looked for after the establishment of peace. After a sojourn in these homes of the poorer middle class, I was entertained in the residences of the more wealthy and influential. I was received in the home of the Reichs Minister Preus, the man who wrote the new German constitution, an instrument not unlike the constitution of the United States. It is based upon paragraphs in the constitutions of many lands. The new constitution is a remarkable document if the Germans can only put it in full force. One splendid provision is that it calls for the teaching of peace in the public schools as a great ethical doctrine to be understood by children. (Applause)
I would like to observe that Germany is making headway in the re-establishment of trade. One reason for this is the fact that as German salesmen have swept over the world, they have been tenacious because they have for the most part touched the very bottom of the pit of poverty. They are steeled to the scornful glance. They have profited from their poverty. In contrast I regret that our youth in America are quite pleasure mad, and do not understand that the Germans have been strengthened by their sufferings. Germany will rise from her poverty and whether we relish it or not we must realize that the privations and hardships have given them a desire to work to obtain even the little things like soap. So they rise in greater strength. We must in America, Canada and Great Britain so order our lives and influence the conduct of our young people that we also may meet this tenacity of the German populace. We must not become amusement crazed, but learn the great national and enduring value of hard work. Our youth must not become inferior to German youth in this respect. (Applause)
I predict that the conditions of the Dawes report will be met, because the great mass of the young people of Germany have accepted it and they are determined to pay the reparations as now adjusted. They realize that Germany cannot possibly work her way back to the good opinion of the world unless they are paid and in a good spirit. The whole world is linked up to the success of the reparations plan. We must do our very best to have this great body of people brought back into social alignment again. We must help these right minded people in Germany and then encourage the forces in France to accept this spirit.
There seems to be two groups in Europe. One says: "Remove our fear and we will be good"; the other counters with: "Be good and you need have no fear." This appears to be the way the European household is divided against itself. They all subscribe pretty much to a doctrine of fear. In closing I would urge that every help be given to the German republicans. You may think what you will about the causes and the results of the world war, but after all does it not represent a great birth pang occasioned in the birth of a new day in the world? Let us honor the coming of this new day by helping these youths in their control of the happenings in Germany. The old Mosaic law demands: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth"; this old law must give way to the modern day thought in the family of nations which offers "An idea for an idea, and a truth for a truth." (Applause)
PROFESSOR WRONG expressed the thanks of the Club for this interesting and timely address.