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tions, but as a thing prepared in the The state which lays its plans with the scientist's laboratory. The personal deliberate purpose of striking its blow
. factor was subordinated to the ma- when its enemy is not looking must alchine, and Napoleon's great maxim, ways have the whip-hand of the state 'Je m'engage et puis je vois,' became which stands on the defensive and the watchword of an outworn creed. will fight only under provocation. But The victories of science over matter apart from this advantage, the Germans the conquest of the air, the discovery came into the field with a much more of wireless telegraphy, the develop- deeply and truly considered theory of ment of motor-traction, the achieve- the mechanism of war under modern ments of chemistry in the matter of conditions than any of their foes poshigh explosives, and so on--tended to sessed. Their system of the General emphasize the change in the character Staff, in operation for generations, had of war, and worked to the advantage of brought to bear on all the problems of the power which was at once most in- war a mass of learning which had no dustrious in the practical applications parallel in any other country and which of science and most concerned in mak- had won for Germany the admiration ing those applications subservient to of the official military class in all the the needs of war.
neutral countries. Prussia was the miliThat a nation so saturated with the tary academy in which most of the thought of war and so rightly conscious generals of those countries had graduof its superiority over all its rivals ated. Even General Yanushkevitch, should have regarded itself as invincible, the chief of the Russian General Staff calls for no surprise. The confidence of at the opening of the war, had received the Germans in their machine had a his military education in Germany. foundation as solid and absolute as Against this elaborately systemaany human calculation about calcula- tized thought directed to definite ends, ble things can have. On the spiritual the Allies had little to offer but improside they were universally wrong. They vised methods. They had no common miscalculated Belgium, they misread strategy, no body of agreed doctrine. England, they woefully underrated France had passed through a series of France, they blundered in their esti- military convulsions which made a comate of the ability of Austria to hold herent and steadily maintained theory Russia in check while France was being impossible. The Russian military syscrushed. But on the material side they tem was as corrupt and inefficient as were substantially right.
other departments of Russian official If we judge German generalship by life. The revelations of the Russo-Japstrictly military considerations, as dis- anese war had done little to cleanse the tinct from the political and imaginative Augean stables, and only a few weeks
a factors, we are bound to admit that its before the crisis came it was stated in success has been complete. The ma- the Duma, and not denied, that there chine has been a miracle of efficiency, were 2000 generals in the Russian Arand if preparedness for war were the my against 350 in the French Army, final condition of victory, Germany and that of these the vast majority had would have been master of Europe and, received their rank, not for military indeed, of the world, in six months. The merit, but through patronage or social advantage with which Germany started influence. Of the younger generals only was due primarily no doubt to the initia- 25 per cent had passed through the regtive inherent in the unprovoked war. imental mill, and of 300 colonels of most
recent promotion only one had gone itzers. But France still placed reliance through a military academy.
upon the fortresses. The collapse of In England the case, for other rea- Namur and the fortresses on the Belsons, was no better. Even in the eight- gian border was the first evidence that eenth century Chatham had declared, in military thought the Germans were “The Navy is the Standing Army of decisively superior. As the war proEngland,' and the idea of interven- gressed, especially on the Russian front, tion in continental warfare had almost the fact on which the Germans had calceased to belong to the realm of practi- culated - that the modern gun would
cal considerations. No army had in dominate the fort was established the last generation seen fighting in so with terrible emphasis. It was only on many and such various fields as the the Verdun-Toul line that the fortress British Army, but the fields were re- retained an appearance of supremacy, mote, the scale small, and the methods but it was a supremacy
the antiquated. Hard thinking is not a fact that the country lent itself to a British characteristic, nor is organiza- wide defensive system which reduced tion a thing for which the Englishman the fort to the function of a dépôt for has an affection. We had muddled the field operations of a great army. through the Boer War at infinite sacri- The fortress qua fortress had vanished fice, and the Army was still very large- as an article of military faith. ly a social asset into which the sons of Not less sound was the doctrine of the aristocracy went to learn polo. Mr. the Germans as to the use of the big Haldane, with his doctrine of 'clear- gun in field warfare. The French Genthinking'and efficiency, did something eral Staff had pinned their faith to the to modernize the machine and even 75 mm. and had resisted every propointroduced the idea of the General sal for the employment of heavy artilStaff in a modest form. It was his War lery in the field. When the Caillaux
a Book which enabled the little British ministry was in office, an attempt was Army to play so prompt and striking made to provide the army with big guns a part in the first episode of the war; for field work, and ten millions sterling but that was an isolated incident. Be- were voted for the purpose. But though hind it was a blank to be filled in with the scheme went through, it was disapa fury of improvisation.
proved of by the military experts, and with the fall of the Caillaux ministry it
was quickly dropped. The ground of II
objection on the part of professional It is not to be wondered at, therefore, opinion was that the use of heavy guns that when the clash came it was found would destroy the mobility of the army that the Germans were easily first in and embarrass its operations. Assumtheir theories. Take the matter of for- ing that war was still an affair of rapid tications. They had seen that the mod- movement and swift, decisive action, ern weapon of offense had made the this was a tenable view; but the battle fortress obsolete except as a centre of of Mukden was the portent of a fundawidespread operations. The same view mental change of method profoundly had been put forward elsewhere by lay affecting the material requirements thinkers like Sir Sydenham Clarke of an army in the field. The Germans (Lord Sydenham), who had advocated alone fully appreciated the meaning earthworks as against forts which off- of that change. In the early stages of ered a fixed target for great mobile how- the war, while the armies were sway
ing to and fro over northern France, have seemed to the average man that their big guns were doubtless an em- there could be no doubt as to the imbarrassment. They could not keep pace portance of that weapon in any kind of with the rapid movement, and were un- warfare; but the Germans alone entered able to influence events in the supreme on the war with a real understanding of crisis of the Marne. But when the the part it was destined to play. In the struggle had settled down into perma- English Army, and to a large extent in nent trench warfare, the big guns for the French Army as well, the machinethe field became a factor of the first gun was
gun was a sort of luxury, and for importance, and the French doctrine months it remained a sort of luxury. was found to have no relation to the In the German Army it was from the warfare initiated at Mukden and ren- first the real instrument of defense. At dered inevitable by the scale and equip- the end of nine months of war the equipment of modern armies.
ment of the English was in the proIn the associated problem of the use portion of two machine-guns to ten on of the high-explosive shell the Germans the side of the Germans, and not for were equally right and the Allies equal- a year was this dreadful handicap subly wrong. Nothing is more remark- stantially diminished. The bearing of able as showing the obstinate conser- this fact on the course of the trench vatism of professional thought, than warfare was immensely important to the precious months lost before the the Germans. They were able to hold French and the English generals came their advanced trenches with a minito admit that their reliance on shrapnel mum of men, while we had to hold ours in trench warfare was a fatal mistake. with the maximum. In a word, we used The great shell controversy in Eng- men where they used the machine. land developed into an attack on the That the Germans looked confidentpoliticians, but it was not the politi- ly for a swift triumph in the field is uncians either in England or France who doubted; but that they had also forewere to blame: it was the soldiers. seen the possibility of the trench warfare They seemed afflicted with an inability is evident, not only from all this preto see the most elementary fact of the paration, but also from the promptness war. In conversation, they would ad- with which they brought into play the mit that it was the German high-explo- hand-grenade and the trench-mortar. sive shell which was doing the destruc- The revival of these obsolete weapons tion in their own lines; but in the same was an inevitable consequence of the breath they would reaffirm their faith siege warfare, but only the Germans in shrapnel so far as the retaliation on were prepared. Evidently they alone the enemy was concerned. Indeed, it had seriously and minutely considered was not until the politicians intervened the possibility of the static struggle. that this enormous heresy was got rid For a considerable time after the great of. It was the appointment of Mr. parallel lines from Flanders to SwitzerLloyd George as Minister of Munitions land had been drawn, the Germans were in England and of M. Thomas to the using an abundance of perfectly manusame position in France that brought factured hand-bombs, while their foes the Allies at last into touch with the could reply only with crude improvisabedrock facts about big guns and high- tions of an extremely inferior sort. explosive shells.
It is still an open question whether The case was much the same in re- the elaborate German method of congard to the machine-gun. It would structing trenches is sound. The deep
excavation and the concrete linings military thought. The massed attack have important advantages, but in the has, on the whole, been found to be a case of a heavy bombardment they are great and costly failure. To justify the of very doubtful wisdom, for men have enormous sacrifice which it involves, it more chance of escape from a fall of must have a decisive and unequivocal natural soil than from the collapse of success. On no occasion has it been atdeep concrete structures. However, the tended with such a success. The sacripromptness with which the Germans fice has been made, but the end has laid these underground fortifications never been gained, and with the serious for hundreds of miles is an evidence diminution in the man-power of Gerof their meticulous care and astonish- many and the great improvement in ing preparedness for all eventualities. the munitioning of the Allies there has It is this fact which has given the Brit- been a marked tendency to avoid this ish officer so high a respect for German reckless staking of life. It is clear that military thinking. When the Germans no artillery preparation so far found to do something in a different way from be practicable is adequate to give the ours,' said a distinguished officer at Gen- gamble a reasonable chance of success. ral Headquarters to me, 'the chances In one sphere of the war the Germans are that it is a better way than ours.' have been decisively inferior. The Al
This I found to be a generally accept- lies, almost from the beginning, have ed view at the front. Much scorn, for established a definite mastery in the example, has been poured on the place air, and, though much alarm was causwhich the German officer takes in at- ed by the feats of the Fokker, that mastack. He does not lead his men, but tery is still maintained. In this connecdrives them. On the face of it, this tion I refer only to the aeroplane. So method shows badly against the French far as the airship is concerned the Gerand English tradition by which the offi- mans have been simply unchallenged. cer gives his men the example of gallan- They had devoted immense thought try. That example governs the whole and expenditure to this weapon and relationship of officers and men and in- clearly looked to it as destined to offvests war with a spirit of chivalry and set, in large measure, the naval supremsacrifice which is an important military acy of Britain. It cannot be denied asset. But on the other hand, the price that as an instrument of 'frightfulness
‘' it exacts in the mortality of officers is a it has justified itself. It has made the grave set-off, and the Germans, who darkness terrible, not to London only are always realists in their methods, re- but to all England; it has destroyed gard the price as too high for the gain it many innocent lives and created widebrings. And though the British tradi- spread alarm. But in a strict military
. tion is too deep-rooted to be destroyed, sense it has so far been literally negliI found a very widespread conviction gible, for it can operate only in the dark
a among the British officers that, as a and its bombs are dropped at random, matter of practical loss and gain, the or, at best, by guesswork. Even indiGerman system was probably right in rectly it has had no military value. It trench warfare if not in the free action has caused alarm and indignation, but of the field.
no panic; and in a real sense it has serv
ed a useful purpose by making England III
realize the actualities of war. There will There is much less disposition to 1 This paper was written immediately before approve of another phase of German the great attack on Verdun. — THE EDITORS.
be no labor troubles in the wake of the found study which the General Staff Zeppelin. It may be doubted, therefore, had for a generation devoted to the whether even in the case of the airship problem. In that study they had the the Germans have really scored. advantage which belongs to a deliber
So far as the aeroplane is concerned ate policy of aggression. They laid their their inferiority has been unquestioned. plans for a war which would come at The reason for this is obvious. No their own time and in their own way, amount of thinking and organization and in which they would have the elecan secure the command of the air un- ment of surprise and the command of aided. Given equal inventiveness the initiative. In a very real sense they and the French and the English are alone had a strategy conceived on large certainly not inferior in this respect - and comprehensive lines and based on the governing factor of the war in the really calculable considerations. The air is the quality of individual daring Allies had never discussed the strategy and independent resource. In this qual- of a possible war in a collective way. ity the Germans are indisputably in- Beyond the secret understanding be ferior. Their system relies upon a col- tween England and France that, in the lective discipline. The individual is event of the invasion of Belgium, the merged in the mass, and, divorced from British Army should go to the defense the mass, he is the inferior fighting of that country, there was no strategic animal. Bernhardi realized this grave preparation on the part of the two defect of the Prussian system and ur- countries, and the idea that England gently advocated the cultivation of in- would raise an army on the continental dividual initiative in the soldiery; but scale was never contemplated. Her the war has shown that his advocacy task was the command of the sea and has been vain. Indeed, the development the defense of her own shores. Italy, so of the individual is obviously incom- far from being involved in the general patible with the harsh mechanism of strategy of the Allies, was at that time the Prussian system, and it is that fact nominally an ally of Germany. The rewhich will govern the final verdict on lations between France and Russia had German military thought. It sacrifi- been more intimate, but in so far as ces the man to the machine. In a war they had discussed a common strategy of sudden impetus the perfect ma- it was the strategy of defense in unchine wins; the longer the war lasts, known circumstances at an unknown however, the more does the human time. It conceded the initiative to Gerfactor assert its authority. It is pos- many as the corollary of unalterable sible in the course of a prolonged strug- facts. gle to equalize the machinery of war, Those facts were not limited to the but not to equalize the human element. known supremacy of the German miliThe Allies have learned the science of tary machine. The geographical posiwar from the Germans, and, having tion of Germany alone was a decisive learned it, they possess a superior qual- factor in the dictation of the initiative. ity of material with which to apply it. She had her ally, not separated by land
If the Germans, on the whole, start- or sea, but solidly at her back, and, ed with the sounder theories as to the working on interior lines, she could calmethods of war, their advantage in the culate on dealing with her enemies in matter of strategy should have been detail, and on bringing the whole weight even more decisive. That advantage of her resources to any given point with was founded, not merely on the pro- a minimum of delay. This advantage