Category Archives: War Guilt Clause

It was the first Great War and there will never be an end of things to say about it. In The War Guilt Clause, Max has barely scratched the surface.

The Frontiers of Humanity

Here is yet another chapter that was left out when THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE was published. Max is beginning to wonder what he was thinking when he agreed to eliminate these chapters. At the time they were written, Max saw them as important to move the flow of the narrative in a direction that would give the reader a feeling about what was going on in Paris in 1919 when the nations of the world were trying to gather themselves and continue to live in the 20th century.

Max is thinking of pulling all these absent chapters together and publishing them under the title – THE AUTHOR GUILT CLAUSE




France’s anxiety was at fever heat – the Peace Conference had been convened for four months, but the deliberations of the Supreme Council had been clothed in mystery; there had been no word on the most important issue of all: the fate of the despicable Hun; and now at last a memorandum from the British Prime Minister that called for mild treatment of the hated Saxons.


When nations are exhausted by wars which leave them tired, bleeding and broken, it is not difficult to patch up a peace that might last for 30 years. What is difficult is to draw up a peace which will not provoke a fresh struggle. Injustice and arrogance displayed in the hour of triumph will never be forgotten or forgiven. Therefore, I strongly advise against transferring German rule to some other nation.

The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution; there is a deep sense of discontent, anger, and revolt; the whole existing order in its political, social, and economic aspects is questioned by the masses of the population from one end of Europe to the other. We peacemakers must be conscious of the danger that if we fail we could throw the population throughout Europe into the arms of the extremists. The greatest danger I see in the present situation is that Germany may throw in her lot with Bolshevism whose dream is to conquer the world by force of arms.

If we are wise, we shall offer to Germany a peace which will be preferable for all sensible men to the alternative of Bolshevism, and in the forefront that once she accepts our terms, especially reparation, we will open to her the raw materials and markets of the world on equal terms with ourselves. We can not both cripple her and expect her to pay.

We must make the League of Nations into something which will be both a safeguard to those nations who are prepared for fair dealings with their neighbors, and a menace to those who would trespass on the rights of their neighbors.

Finally, I believe that until the authority and effectiveness of the League of Nations has been demonstrated, the British Empire and the United   States ought to give France a guarantee against the possibility of a new German aggression.


Summary of Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s Fontainebleau memorandum  – March 25, 1919


Woodrow Wilson loved it. Lord Northcliffe, baron of the British Press, and blood enemy of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, was all over it like a fire department at a blazing building; he enlisted 370 members of the British Parliament to send a telegram of screaming protest to the embattled Lloyd George. Clemenceau was outraged – Germany, the savage aggressor, saved by imprudent pity? Never!

French newspapers battled rivals for the honor of posting the most angry headline.

the Journal des Debats roared:

The Frontiers of Humanity Must Be Made Inviolable


Easter (April 20) will be here before the Armistice is completed and instead of a full resurrection, the World will have a new Calvary to climb, for the League of Nations is not, and never will be, an adequate guarantor of French security.We French have the right to reparations, both material and moral. Material reparation means payment by Germany of not only pensions and damages, but also war costs. Any other solution would be the most monstrous injustice in the history of the human race. Shall a people who has been invaded and martyred be made to pay? It would be like the victim paying the assassin under the pretext that the latters’ resources must be safeguarded.

Moral reparation is simply protection against future aggression, for did not President Wilson himself  say, “French frontiers are the frontiers of humanity.”

French Chamber of Deputies Senator Cheron expressing the voice of general alarm:


Peggy Schooner and Ed Frederick soaked up the April-in-Paris sunshine on a park bench in the Jardin des Tuilleries while reading from a stack of French newspapers.

Peggy held up Le Figaro for Ed’s inspection –“What do you think of their motto?” She asked, then read it in French and translated to English “Without the freedom to criticize, there is no true praise.”

Ed smiled in response, “Freedom of the press – the hallmark of Democracy; my paper’s motto is “All the news that’s fit to print.”

“Chicago casts all modesty aside,” said Peggy, “the Tribune calls itself ‘the World’s Greatest Newspaper.”

Ed smiled again and recalled, “my favorite newspaper motto comes from Nevada – the Mason Valley News – ‘The Only Newspaper that gives a damn about Yerington.’”

Peggy laughed loudly and gave Ed an appreciative whack on the back. The two allowed themselves the luxury of a light-hearted interlude, but they knew that what they had to do was anything but funny. Their job was to report the news of what the Peace Conference was or was not accomplishing, and after seemingly endless delays and diversions the conference was at last coming to the primary task – what to do about Germany.

“The Fontainebleu Memorandum has broken the dam,” said Ed. “Lloyd George and Wilson have come out for moderate terms.”

“Yes,” Peggy agreed, “but I don’t think they were prepared for the avalanche of opposition to moderation that crashed down upon them.”

“This is true,” Ed agreed, “but President Wilson is immune to such opposition – he is permanently and irrevocably locked into his positions – the fourteen points and the League of Nations; nothing can change his mind.”

“I’m sorry to say this, Edward, but our President is a fool. In a world that cries for diplomacy, he is an uncompomising wall of granite.”

Ed hesitated to criticize a man he thought of as a friend, but Peggy’s barbs were beginning to connect. “House, Lansing, and Baker have counselled compromise,” he said.

“I think he only accepts advice from God,” Peggy said, then added, “which apparently he receives on a regular basis.”

“And then there is the Fiume – Shantung contradiction,” said Ed. “He awards Fiume to the Yugoslavs on the basis of his point five – colonial claims must be based on the interests of the populations concerned – then ignores the point in awarding a large piece of Chinese territory to Japan.”

Peggy was quick to pick up on Ed’s thought. “It was all about his sacred League of Nations,” she said, “Japan threatened to quit the League and form a triple alliance with Germany and Russia to oppose the League – Wilson caved in to Japanese demands. And becaue of the Fiume decision, the Italians have gone home to Rome in a fit of anger.”

“Orlando and Sonnino have been received in Rome as National heroes,” Ed said, “imagine if they had succeeded.”

Peggy nodded, “I can imagine that Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau are happy to be without the Italians – a big three is easier to manage than a big four.”

“Speaking of the Italians,” said Ed, “I have news from my New York colleagues on this Fiume issue, and for Wilson it’s not good – his number one antagonist in the U.S. congress, Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, believes that Italy should have military and naval control of the Adriatic and so supports Italy’s claim to the port of Fiume.”

“Why isn’t Lodge here in Paris as part of the U.S. delegation?” Peggy asked. “Doesn’t Wilson understand that nothing he agrees to at the conference will be anything but fantasy if he can’t get support from his legislature?”

Ed was not ready to give up on Wilson. “And yet,” he said, “for all his difficulties, backsliding, mistakes, misunderstandings, and contradictions, I believe it is right and proper that he should be here.”

Peggy was not so sure. “No,” she exclaimed, “your precious Wilson should have remained in Washington, his presence here is a distraction; historians will not treat him kindly. And let us not fail to note that the peace treaty is being written by anonymous technicians whose labors will be touted as the work of statesmen.”

While Ed pondered that observation, and searched for an appropriate response, Peggy abruptly changed the subject to a train of thought she had been considering ever since they had returned from Munich.

“Ida Tarbell was too hard on Rockefeller,” she said.

Ed blinked; where did that come from? Ed was startled at the abrupt change of subject. “Rockefeller?”

“He founded the University of Chicago, you know.”

Ed shook his head; he did not know.

“The eternal conundrum,” mused Peggy, “if great wealth is accumulated by unfair means and used for charitable purposes, is it morally justified?”

“The allied powers in charge here would certainly think so,” said Ed, “It makes me wonder: is that the ultimate purpose of this conference? To ensure that the Rockefellers of the world are safe from the “poisonous” claims of any system of government designed to share the wealth of nations with the population of nations?”

“You may be onto something there, Edward,” said Peggy. “Most certainly the  United States, Great Britain, and France are dedicated to that purpose. And what about Germany? As we have seen in Munich, thousands of Germans are prepared to fight for a people’s government where the poor are elevated in society to a level, if not equal to the rich, at least high enough to escape the degradation of grinding poverty. The Allies call this hope, “poisonous”. The great irony of the Great War is that the contending forces  agreed on this issue; the post-war story is yet to be written, it may involve civil war in Germany. Pity the common folk.”

Caught up in thoughts of irony and poison, Ed was startled when Peggy once again seemed to change the subject.

“He’s here, you know,” she said, then added, “Junior is here.”

“Junior?” Ed questioned.

“John D. Rockefeller, Junior; he’s here in Paris; I saw him at one of Baker’s press conferences.”

“Do you know him?” Ed asked.

“I know him by sight,” Peggy answered, “he was the commencement speaker when I graduated from the University of Chicago. At the press conference he was sitting next to Ida Tarbell.”

“That’s odd,” said Ed, “I thought she didn’t like him.”

Ed was thinking of Ida Tarbell’s famous book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, published 15 years earlier; a highly detailed exposè of  John D. Rockefeller’s unethical business practices that had damaged many small companies, including that of her father, in the nascent oil business of Western Pennsylvania. Junior Rockefeller’s father, the founder of the Standard Oil Company, had called her “that poisonous woman.”

“President Wilson likes her,” said Peggy, “two years ago he appointed her to the Women’s Commission of the Council on National Defense and recently as a delegate to his Industrial Conference.”

“So why is she sitting with Rockefeller?”

“This is not the same Rockefeller,” Peggy answered. “This is the son of the founder, he’s a different animal – he doesn’t have to worry about making money, his job is figuring out the best way to spend it. Rockefeller Senior was not only a shrewd, if unethical, businessman, he also understood the capitalistic system as well as anyone alive – the bottom line is you invest your money well and live off the interest. The British aristocracy could not exist without this system; Rockefeller took note and formed the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for Medical Research, the General Education Board, and probably a few others nobody knows about.

Ida Tarbell exposed Senior’s shady methods, but she also took note of his impeccable organizational skills, and she clearly doesn’t blame Junior for the sins of his father.”


April in Munich 1919

As the Paris Peace Conference ground on through the early months of 1919, the situation in Germany was unsettled, chaotic, and dangerous, and not just in Germany but all over Europe, the Middle East, Asia, in short, all over the World. The issue was the role of government in controlling the lives of the citizens – the never ending clash between capitalism and socialism.

Below is yet another chapter that did not survive the cut in the original version of The War Guilt Clause


As the Supreme Council shuffled to gain its footing in Paris, the mood in Munich was somber, confused, and anxious about what the so-called peacemakers had in store for their defeated nation. The city was spared physical damage, to be sure, but, when 700 years of monarchial rule ended with the declaration of a free state of Bavaria on November 8, 1918, two days before Kaiser Wilhelm headed for exile in Holland, the citizens of Munich were faced with the new challenge of how to live in a system where the lines of authority were yet to be firmly established. It was rumored that they would be asked to vote.


The words thundered across the cobblestoned Munich square where a large crowd had gathered to listen to a man of all-too-obvious authority in the uniform of a German army officer, peaked cap firmly in place. Few knew he wore the tabs and markings of a general, and only a handful knew it was Erich Ludendorff, former commanding general of all German forces on the Western Front; he stood on a raised platform and used a megaphone to deliver his message. Ludendorff seethed with rage, an emotion that had consumed him from the moment on the fields of France when he realized that his armies had been defeated by the forces of international pacifism.

Hermann Grossman, the former Obergefreiter Grossman, of the third Royal Bavarian Division, had survived the war, and was beginning to wonder if he could survive the peace. Grossman stood near the center of the square, pressed on one side by a frenzied group straining to hear Ludendorff, and on the other by an equally agitated crowd trying to hear what Kurt Eisner, President and Prime Minister of the Free Republic of Bavaria, was saying. Eisner and Ludendorff on opposite sides of the square, and on opposite sides of the political spectrum, pounded their messages with the crusading zeal of one who believed that failure to follow their lead would result in death, destruction, and dishonor of the German Fatherland. Ludendorff and Eisner were miles apart on method, but in total agreement on outcome.

Grossman was in Munich to purchase a bundle of leather for his father’s shoemaker shop in Dachau, a medieval village some 20 miles north of Munich. The city and the land may have been in revolutionary uproar, but shoes were needed regardless of political preferences.


War, for the individual being, as well as the state, will remain a natural phenomenon, grounded in the divine order of the world.

The voice of General Ludendorff reached Grossman’s right ear.


We are not communists! We are the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, and we believe in property rights for individuals.

And into his left ear, from the unruly hair-surrounded mouth of  Kurt Eisner.


All very well, but in the overheated atmosphere of a staggering Germany, trying to pick itself up off the mat, Eisner had committed an unforgivable sin: he had admitted Germany’s responsibility for the Great War in a speech before the International Labor and Socialist Congress in Basle, Switzerland.

Less than an hour later, Eisner was assassinated by a descendant of the House of Hohenzollern – the royal family that had ruled Bavaria for more than 700 years; a right-wing radical named Count Anton Arco-Valley pulled the trigger.


Paris Le Temps

February 23, 1919


State of Siege in Munich; Reds Seek to Avenge Eisner


Peggy Schooner read the headline in the Paris Times, shook her head in disgust, and handed the paper to Ed Frederick.

“I’m going to Munich,” she said.

“Why?” asked Ed. “Is it more important than what’s happening here in Paris?”

“What’s happening here will be determined by what happens there – don’t you see?” Peggy displayed a touch of impatience when Ed was slow to grasp a point.

Colonel House saw it very well and quickly dispatched two deputies, William Bullitt and Lincoln Steffens to Moscow (they had to travel through Sweden), their mission: meet with the Bolshevik leaders and determine what it would take for them to make peace with the allies. Bullitt and Steffens went with the erroneous impression that they had a mandate to negotiate conditions with the Bolsheviks. House was apparently under the erroneous impression that the left-wing uprisings in Germany, and more specifically in Bavaria, were controlled by the Bolsheviks.

Ed may have been slow to connect Munich with Paris in terms of the peace conference, but he was quick to see the opportunity to connect the two cities by means of the newly minted industry of civilian air travel.

“Ted will take us there,” he proclaimed.

Peggy speared him with a puzzled look; she had no idea who Ted was, and she was surprised when Ed used the word us.

“Who is Ted, and what do you mean, us?”

“My brother Ted is a pilot,” said Ed, “and he is in the business of transporting people by air; he works for a French company that has a regular schedule of flying people back and forth between London and Paris,” he paused, “Ted can fly us to Munich; I’m going with you,” he pronounced.


In Munich, chaos reigned; with the death of the moderate Eisner and some of his ministers, a power vacuum ensued. Johannes Hoffmann, Minister of Education under Eisner tried to carry on, but he was soon overwhelmed by a true communist movement headed by Eugen Levine.


Peggy Schooner and Ed Frederick, with his pigeon German, were there, and they were dodging bullets; if it wasn’t a civil war it was the next thing to it; it was the Reds against the Whites and it was ugly; people were getting killed, sometimes by execution.



Copyright 1919 by the New York Times Company

Special wireless and cable dispatches to the New York Times

by Edward Frederick

April  in Munich

May 3, 1919

In the month of April, 1919, the independent state of Bavaria and its capital, Munich, were ruled by the Communist party, headed by a man named Eugen Levine. Backed by an army of 20,000 men, part of the more than three million nation-wide unemployed German workers, Levine wasted no time in implementing reforms reflecting hard-core communist philosophy: wealth must be shared. Luxurious apartments were expropriated and given to the homeless; factories were placed under the ownership and control of their workers.

Counter revolutionaries were arrested, suspected right-wing spies were executed including some princes, counts, and countesses.

It could not last, and Eugen Levine must have known it; when “the white guards of capitalism” came, 30,000 strong with their Freikorps, to confront him, he battled to the bitter end which for him was the hangman’s noose. The demise of German Communism, settled on the streets of Munich in the first week of May, 1919 must be seen as the triumph of Erich Ludendorff and all he stands for.

Attention Paris Peace Conference: Germany may be down, but she is snarling in her reduced circumstances, and far from out.

                        CITIZEN GROSSMAN SPEAKS

Special to the Chicago Herald-Examiner

by Peggy Schooner

in Dachau, Germany

May 3, 1919

Herr Grossman hammers the final nail into the sturdy leather shoe sole he is working on, and ponders an answer to the question I have posed: what is to become of post-war Germany?

He answers: “Much will be made of the verdict handed down by the Paris Peace Conference, but from my perspective it will not matter – no matter how harsh, no matter how lenient, the Germany of the conservative right is not defeated and when the next leader comes forth, men will follow him again into the jaws of war. Have you not heard General Ludendorff?”

Grossman has more to say about Ludendorff. He opens a drawer, takes out a newspaper and says, “Ludendorff  may be that leader, listen to what he has written:

The renewal of the German Nation’s strength and spirit requires it to be unyielding and unified in deep Christian faith, glowing with love of the Fatherland and readiness to sacrifice for it. The un-German in and around us speaks lies; first and foremost in the lack of race feeling; in the elevation of intellectual training over manual skills; in internationalist, pacifist, and defeatist thinking; and finally in the strong intrusion of the Eastern European jewish people inside our borders.

Grossman now becomes animated as he thinks and speaks about Ludendorff. “What is this man thinking? He did not question my Jewishness when he sent me to attack Amiens. He calls me un-German? Preposterous.”

And so the shoemakers in Dachau, the farmers in their fields, the workers in the factories, the millions of unemployed men all over Germany, the hausfraus and their kinder, the students in their schools, the soldiers on their drill fields, hear the defiant words of the Generals in Munich and Berlin, and await their fate. The Peace Conference in Paris is convened; the German people wait

Blind Tigers

Another chapter omitted from the published WAR GUILT CLAUSE

Max got caught up in what was happening at home in Brooklyn while Wilson was in Paris thumping for a world peace that would include the nations of the world organized into a League charged with problem solving – economic, religious, political, geographic, extraterrestrial (just kidding {sort of}. In Brooklyn saloons the big worry was  prohibition of the sale of beer, bourbon, gin and all that.


“So it begins,” Otto Frederick, with his friends at the Eagle Saloon, folded the newspaper he had been reading and began the discussion. “Forty plans for the League of Nations to be considered – they are stalled before they can begin.”

Otto did not find it necessary to say he was talking about the Paris Peace Conference. Pat Cady, Bill Hartz, Joseph Koenig, and Debs Green, the other men at the table, put down their papers and began to express their thoughts.

“They will not meddle with the Monroe Doctrine,” said Bill Hartz to laughter from the group. Hartz was echoing an item in the New York Times report on the conference.

“They are charged with adjusting the destinies of the world, perhaps we should join them,” said Joseph Koenig.

“Can we trust our sainted President to do the right thing?” Bill Hartz, no friend of Wilson, had the answer to his own question . . . “why is he obsessed with this idea of a League of Nations? He is more concerned about the world out there than he is about the world here at home.”

Pat Cady had other things on his mind, once again sparked by information gleaned from the morning newspaper. “Only six more states needed to ratify the prohibition amendment,” he said, “drink up gentlemen, it may be our last chance.” He raised his glass for a toast. “To Blind Tigers,” he said.

It was a reference to a practice that had developed in a Dry county somewhere in Indiana – the appearance in a legitimate business store window of a stuffed tiger with glass eyes to alert thirsty customers that an illicit saloon (a speakeasy) was somewhere in the neighborhood.

“But see here, Cady, there may still be hope.” Otto Frederick pointed to an item in the Times. “The distillers convention in Chicago informs us that fifteen states have laws that require a vote of the people to approve what their legislators have mandated when the issue is amending the U.S. constitution. Can we hope that the people are wiser than their elected representatives? The distillers have elected a guy from Peoria to lead their organization and press their case. There are ominous signs that such prohibition will be disastrous for the nation – the criminal elements in our society are licking their chops over the whole idea – ways to profit are blossoming in the greedy minds of crooks from Maine to California.”

“Maybe there is hope for us here in New York,” said Cady, “it appears that our state senate opposes the amendment; this raises the question, if the amendment becomes law, is a state that voted against it required to enforce it?”

While the group pondered that sticky question, Debs Green called attention to another item in the Times that he found troubling: the report of a pogrom in Ukrainia.

“Again, they are killing jews,” he said. “What are we to do?”

Otto Frederick spoke for the group who all looked at Green sharply to see if he was sober. This was a group that discussed issues; no matter how dire a situation, they were never inclined to do anything about it.

“Green, my friend,” Otto said, placing a hand on Green’s arm, “it is not our place to do anything. We are prepared to discuss it, to be sure, but do something? No. So let us discuss: did I not read somewhere that what is being called ‘the Bolshevik Revolution’ is the result of  a Jewish conspiracy?”

Green threw up his hands in dismay. “Churchill has written in the London Herald  that Bolshevism and Zionism are competing for the soul of the Jewish people. This is an educated man, possibly a world leader, how can he write such nonsense?”

Green was referring to Winston Churchill, currently the British Secretary of State for War and Aviation, one of the British plenipotentiaries at the Paris Peace Conference. The Ballboys knew about Winston Churchill.

“What can you tell us about the Jewish soul?” Otto Frederick asked.

Green smiled, “Of one thing I am sure,” he answered, “whatever it is, Winston Churchill may be the last person to know of it.”


The Jewish Question

 Because Tate Publishing placed a 115,000 word limit, THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE was published without several chapters that author Max Blue now wonders how he agreed to eliminate. The Jewish Question is one of those chapters.



Ed Frederick was back on Paris’ Champs-Elysées with Wickham Steed, sitting at a favorite sidewalk table watching the girls go by, and relaxing as best he could with a carafe of the superb red wine that took the place of water in this consummate French city; a late October sun was setting in the west, firing the high clouds to a crimson color that seemed to reflect the blood-drenched ground of northern France.

The fight in the Argonne ground on, but when Eddie Grant went down, Ed Frederick, by his side to the end, had seen enough.

“I would like to drink a toast to Captain Eddie Grant,” he said.

Steed raised his glass, drank deeply, and said, “Tell me about him.”

“He did not understand the war,” Ed began. “Why men were required to kill other men – he saw it as a pagan and barbarian practice, entirely inconsistent with the Christian message of ‘Love thy neighbor.’ Honor, duty, and comradeship he understood very well.

He died trying to rescue his friend.” Ed choked up at the thought of the fearless Eddie Grant standing tall in the teeth of death. He wiped a tear from his eye.

Steed patted Ed’s arm in a gesture of sympathy. “You have written his story well,” he said. “Your forum at the New York Times, has allowed you to tell people about courage – about sacrifice – dedication to duty and love of country. Why men fight.” He paused, very much aware of Ed’s eye patch, then added, “It remains to be told why young journalists pursue them.”

Ed Frederick, not quite 19 years old, had experienced a lifetime of strife, bloody conflict, agonizing death, unspeakable destruction; he wore a black eye patch to cover the scar tissue in his head where his left eye should be. An eye for a life was a trade a few hundred thousand men would have happily made in the killing fields of France and Belgium during the Great War. Ed, in pursuit of a story, had made the trade a year earlier in the assault by Haig’s 5th British Army near Pilckem Ridge on the left center of the Ypres salient.  Ed looked at his boss, Wickham Steed, processing the man’s words; he had a great respect for Steed; respect for his position as editor, for his help in teaching him how to write, for his willingness to give a raw youth the opportunity to become a working journalist; maybe it was time he learned more about Steed.

“What about you?” Ed asked. “What are your thoughts on these subjects? Why do men fight?”

Wickham Steed was 47 years old, too old to fight but highly respected for his work as a correspondent and editor. After serving for 11 years as correspondent for the Times of London in Vienna, he was seen as a leading expert on Eastern Europe; his views and opinions were much sought after by high level bureaucrats and Cabinet politicians. He was a man of strong opinions – he had developed a deep contempt for the Austria-Hungary government, and an abiding dislike for British Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

Steed smiled in a condescending manner at his young protégé. “I think you have answered that question well, my young friend – sacrifice, dedication to duty, love of country – to those worthy ideals might be added comradeship; the urge to protect and aid your fellow soldier, men fight for that reason.”

“They do,” Ed agreed, “I have seen it often; Eddie Grant died for that reason, he was on a mission to rescue his Harvard classmate, Major Whittlesey.”

Steed then offered some thoughts that had been germinating in the incubator of his mind for longer than Ed Frederick had lived. Steed spoke with firsthand knowledge of Ed’s forum; he had enjoyed that privilege for more than 20 years following publication of his first book in 1894 – The Socialist and Labour Movement in England, Germany, and France. The book had been written with Ed Frederick’s type of youthful enthusiasm gained from Steed’s education at Oxford, and European universities in Paris, Berlin, and most particularly the 350 year-old east German University of Jena.

“Men fight because they have little or no choice; a more pertinent question is, why do Nations make war?”

It was a question that Ed had never considered, as young as he was, but one that had occupied Wickham Steed for as long as he could remember.

Steed drank more wine as he organized his thoughts on the question; he looked at the wide-eyed Ed Frederick, who had taken out a notebook and pencil. The learned Steed had often lectured before audiences of students, scholars, and diplomats, but never for a single listener until now; very well; he cleared his throat and began.

“The answer involves money, race, religion, ambition, politics, militarism, and a litany of complaints, some petty, some not. In short, this question has no simple answer.”

He paused as he noticed Ed taking furious notes.

“It would be difficult to sort out, or identify a single factor that could be called the most important of all the possibilities, but a case could be made that ethnic differences might be placed at, or most certainly near, the top of the list. Take the Magyars of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; their history goes back more than a thousand years, giving them ample time to develop attitudes toward neighboring cultural groups such as the Slavs, the Czechs, the Germans, the Turks, and the Russians; all of these groups view the others with suspicion, dislike, even hatred. Among other things, these groups are divided by language and religion – largely Christian except for the Muslim Turks.

“And ah, the Christians; they are violently split between Eastern Orthodox and traditional western Catholics and Protestants who in turn are violently divided among a thicket of sects, cults, and denominations. The quarreling and bickering of the various groups, however, stops cold before the so-called “Jewish Question.”

Ed was only marginally aware of anything Jewish. It was never a topic of conversation at the B&B in Brooklyn. When he asked his mother or father about the Jews he had seen in their odd costumes on the streets and neighborhoods near his home, they had simply replied that the Jews were different. He did, however, in his recent adventures with Eddie Grant’s 307th Infantry , have two relevant encounters. Should he interrupt Steed’s narrative to speak of them?

Steed had paused before the Jewish Question, attempting to organize his thoughts about a subject that he had often reflected on, and indeed had published some scholarly works about. He became aware of Ed’s desire to speak. “Do you have a question?” he asked.

Ed nodded, and said, “Gefreiter Grossman, a German prisoner captured by Captain Grant’s Company, talked about being Jewish in the modern Germany, and Private Krotoshinsky, a survivor of the lost battalion in the Argonne, told of leaving Polish Russia and coming to the United States because of the cruel treatment of Jews; he calls himself a Zionist – he looks forward to living in a Jewish homeland – he spoke of Palestine.”

Steed nodded. “Yes,” he said, “this is what it has come to – you have seen in these examples, precisely where the Jewish Question stands today. The story begins in the mist of ancient history – the Jewish calendar dates from almost four thousand years before the birth of Jesus.”

Ed made a note of it, then looked up in astonishment. “Is it possible?” He asked.

Steed answered, “The history is recorded in ancient documents recovered by scholars in the biblical lands of the Middle East. It seems incredible but it is certainly possible. Let me continue – those ancient Arabian lands were populated by tribes that moved often and competed for food and water in ways that we can only imagine. The Jews were one of those tribes; over thousands of years they had developed a culture with rituals and customs centered around the belief  that life and their destiny were influenced, if not controlled, by a supreme being of unknowable power. It should also be mentioned that the Jewish tribes represent a prime example of Darwin’s thesis that survival favors those most fit – over the centuries the weak die out. Modern Jews as a group are universally recognized for their intelligence.

“Now, Ed,” Steed continued, “Imagine, if you can, that you are a Jew, striving to survive in the chaotic and violent world around the city of Jerusalem some six hundred years before the birth of Jesus. You and your tribe are threatened on all sides by hostile forces, most especially a rich and powerful tribe called the Babylonians, so strong they were described as an Empire. The Babylonians do not like the Jews, they overwhelm them with cruel and unmerciful destruction of their people, their lands, and their temples. The Jews are forced to flee the onslaught and embark on a historic journey that came to be called the Diaspora, a term now used to describe the scattering of a people from their ancestral homeland. The Jews are but one example, there has also been a Chinese diaspora.”

Ed was a rapt student. Steed was just getting started, and reveled in the young boy’s interest, and eagerness.

He continued, “The Jews moved north into Europe, some, called the Ashkenazi, to central and eastern Europe, some, called the Sephardic, to southeastern Europe, specifically the Iberian peninsula. Modern Scholars have trouble making distinctions between the two. As they settled into their new regions, the Jews remained in tight-knit groups, typically living close together in what came to be called ghettos, a term generally thought of in a negative way, except to the Jews who were comfortable near their friends and co-religionists. As the years passed, and generations succeeded generations, a question arose that to this day has never been answered to everyone’s satisfaction: are the Jews a race or a religion?”

Steed paused, seeing Ed’s questioning glance. “Don’t think I have the answer, my friend, there have been endless debates making the case for one side or the other, mostly because the answer might affect practical matters related to laws, taxation, politics, and related matters.”

“The Jews became known as traders, money lenders, and financial wizards, though in truth, a substantial majority remained tied to the soil. The Jews are generally thought to have been a primary influence in Western countries over the centuries in the change of societies from economic systems based on trading value for value to those calculated on the premise of profit and loss. Some put it simply: the Jews invented Capitalism.”

Steed smiled and paused for a chuckle. “The ironic truth is that the Jews also invented Socialism, and to this day, the battle between the two economic systems continues to rage, both inside and outside of Jewish communities throughout the world.”

Ed raised a finger. “Excuse me, Wick, but you’re getting into sticky ground for me. Do you have a simple explanation for Socialism? Back in Brooklyn my father’s group talked a lot about it, but I never was sure I understood it.”

Steed smiled again, he had this one nailed down. “Socialism is an economic system based on government ownership and administration of the means of production and administration of goods. Capitalism takes government out of the system and relies on competition in the free market to set values for goods and services. Small wars and big wars result when forces from the two opposing views bang up against each other. See what the Jews have wrought? – but the simple truth is that the Jews are divided on the two extremes just as the whole of Western Society is divided.”

Steed paused for a thought, then added, “I can’t speak for Eastern Societies, but I daresay the Chinese would have something to say about the development of economic systems, since from what I have read, they happily lay claim to all manner of societal firsts ranging from gunpowder to noodles.”

Ed scribbled more notes, then stood up and asked, “Wick, can we take a small break here? My head seems to be swelling with all this information.”

Steed nodded, “Of course – forgive me, my friend, when I get started on the Jewish question I seem to have a hard time stopping.” He signaled a waiter to bring more wine.

After stretching his legs with a few turns around the dozen or so busily occupied tables, with their spreading umbrellas, placed on the wide sidewalk edging the famous Paris boulevard, Ed returned to his seat next to Wickham Steed and once again opened his notebook preparing for the next lesson.

Steed plunged ahead as if he had not stopped. “You told of the German prisoner and the American private, and their Jewish connections. These are examples of the next point I want to make about the Jewish Question. There is a clear cut distinction regarding Jewish thinking among the millions who over the centuries have lived in the countries of Europe and the British Isles, and more recently, America where more than two million Jews have immigrated, mostly from Russia, in recent years. A large majority of these Jews have become what I call assimilationists – those Jews who want to be thought of as nothing more than citizens of the countries they live in. Gefreiter Grossman is one of those – he wants to be treated as a German citizen, not as a German Jew.”

Ed interrupted to acknowledge this point. “He told us that he had a good life in Germany, that his father was a shoemaker in Dachau, a village near Munich, and that he was proud to serve his country in the war against the imperialist English and French.”

Steed beamed. “Precisely; a shining example of an assimilated Jew. And then there are the Zionists, a vanishingly small minority compared to the assimilationists – those Jews who long for an independent Jewish State. Your Private Krotoshinsky seems to be a good example of this type of Jew, and who can blame him? Treated badly in Russia and not living long enough in America to become assimilated – young and tough – just what the Zionists need for their new country. The Zionist movement is in its infancy; a congress was held in Vienna in 1897 where it was proposed to purchase the African country of Uganda from the British and establish a Jewish state there. That idea went nowhere mostly because of the prevailing view that the only suitable place for such a state was the ancient Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Zionist movement promises to grow if recent developments are an indication. A year ago, almost to the day, the British Cabinet announced what is called the Balfour Declaration – in its simplest form it states that the British Government will support a Jewish settlement in Palestine once the war is ended,” he paused, then added, “as long as it is administered by the British.”

Steed paused for another question from his student. “What is your thinking about Zionism, Wick?” Ed asked

Steed nodded; as with almost everything, he had a strong and well-thought-out  opinion. “I view it as the only long-term solution to the Jewish question, but I also understand that the Palestinian Arabs will resist it with all the power they can muster. There will be violence, even wars – it will take many years for the movement to succeed, if it ever will. I expect that if a Jewish state is ever established, many of the assimilated Jews will ultimately settle there. I say this because the desire of the assimilated Jews to be treated as just another citizen, in my opinion, can never be satisfied – they will always be seen as an alien force in Christian societies – the idea that “the Jews killed Jesus” will never go away. Then there is the firmly embedded view of conservative Christians that Jewish bankers can be blamed for many, if not all, of societies’ problems. In many minds, Jewish bankers and financiers are to blame for this war we are trying to end, as well as the Bolshevik Revolution that has engulfed Russia. It is all part of the Jewish question.”

Ed made a notation, then looked up and asked, “Are you a Christian, Wick?”

Steed lifted his glass, took a long draft, then replaced the glass on the table before he answered. He placed his hands, palm to palm touching his chin, looked at Ed and answered, “No. I am a Jew.” He raised his glass and said, “Next year, in Jerusalem.”

The two men sat quietly, drinking their wine; at length, Ed asked, “what about the war? When will it end?”

“Soon,” said Steed, “the American presence has proved decisive, the Germans are exhausted. Much depends on Herr Ludendorff – at the end of September, about the time you were heading into the Argonne with Captain Grant, Ludendorff informed the Kaiser that the military situation facing Germany was hopeless and appealed directly to President Wilson for a cease fire and a negotiated armistice based on Wilson’s fourteen points. But Wilson veered away from his points, and his conditions proved to be more than Ludendorff could endure; Wilson dismissed the call for an armistice and demanded unconditional German surrender. Ludendorff could not stomach it, so the fight continues.”

Nations United, League of – Whatever – Hail to the duc

The idea of Nations uniting for peace and tranquility has been around for more than 400 years as near as I can tell – the first outrageous proposal may have been the one proposed by the French duc de Sully in 1601. He wanted to call it “the very Christian Council of Europe” ; it would be composed of 15 roughly equal European states with a common army – imagine that. It was also called “The Grand Design, a Utopian plan for a Christian Republic.” Nice try, duc.

In 1859, another Frenchman, Jean Henri Dunant, while visiting in Italy, happened upon the village of Solferino, where a  battle in the Austro-Sardinian war had produced more than 40,000 dead and wounded. The experience inspired Dunant to publish “A Memory of Solferino” in 1863, a book that led Gustave Moynier, a Geneva, Switzerland lawyer to help organize an “International Committee for Relief of the Wounded” that became the ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1876. The World War One role of the ICRC in saving lives, exchanging prisoners, enabling communication between combatants and families, maintaining troop morale, and more, can not be minimized. It was part of the late 19th Century movement toward global Internationalism led by men like the South African Jan Christian Smuts.

Smuts must have been a role model for Woodrow Wilson; it was Smuts who wrote the covenant of the League of Nations that Wilson insisted be included in the Treaty of Versailles, and that was seen by many as the first great flaw in the Treaty .

The War Guilt Clause wrestles with these issues, then moves on to the question of how did the civilian war survivors on both sides view the Treaty of Versailles?


Madelon is the name of a catchy song that French soldiers (the Poilu)) sang endlessly in the dreadful 1914-1918 days when German artillery shells fell like rain all over northern France. How is it that music somehow eases the pain and the anxiety of the men ordered to put their lives on the line for what they are told is a noble cause? The British sang It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, the Yanks sang Over There, and Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag. Through the miracle of 2013 technology you can hear these songs on the Internet. Google it. Google Madelon. if you’re like me, you’ll have a hard time getting the tune out of your head for a while.

In The War Guilt Clause, following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June, 1919, Ed Frederick and Peggy Schooner embarked on a journalistic bicycle journey through eastern France and western Germany; they planned to speak to the people on the ground – those who lived through the terrible times –  what did these people think of the Treaty?

Near Verdun they encounter a catholic priest, a survivor of the 1916 six-month nightmare that claimed near a million lives.

Bon”, said the man, “my name is France, I am a priest.”                                                                “Then you  are Father France,” said Ed.

The War Guilt Clause chapter entitled Father France, can be seen in its entirety if you go to

You will also see this:  Father France smiled and began to hum a lilting melody of a favorite French song of the day – it was called Madelon. A few bars into the song, Father France moved from humming to singing, then after a few lines, abruptly stopped, looked at the two young Americans nestled close on the grassy French hillside, and in measured  French tones questioned, “Would you like me to marry you?”

The War Guilt Clause is for sale – from Tate or from Max.





Gertrude Bell – A Lady For All Seasons

The WAR GUILT CLAUSE is available at pre-publication prices and directly from the author – the official release date by Tate Publishing is in October – the publishers put a 115,000 word limit on the manuscript which meant that some large sections, important to the author, had to be eliminated; a piece about Gertrude Bell was one. It is reproduced below.


Special to the New York Times and to the Times of London

By Wickham Steed

February 1, 1919

Gertrude Bell is a lady of great accomplishment, a treasure of the British Empire. Educated at Queens’ College, London, then at OxfordUniversity where she graduated with first class honors in modern history, she is, by any measure, the country’s prime source of information, to say nothing of influence, in all things pertaining to the Arab world of the Middle East. She speaks eight languages – English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian. She has ridden camels with the Bedouins in the Arabian desert and dined on sheep’s eyes with tribal sheikhs; she has gained the respect and the trust of Arab leaders all over the desert, with the added advantage that, being a woman, she was allowed access to the women of the desert where she often learned what really drove the sheikhs. Move over “Lawrence of Arabia”, make way for “Bell of Arabia.”

When the Great War broke out in 1914, Gertrude Bell was widely recognized as one of Britain’s leading experts on the Middle East, and when Turkey came in on the side of the Central Powers, her expertise was quickly put to good use. In 1915, she became the first woman to work for British military intelligence, and the only woman to be part of the British mission in Mesopotamia. In 1916, she was part of the British delegation in Basrah, Iraq when Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the legendary representative of the House of Saud, was given a dazzling display of British military power and technology, not least the image of the bones of his hand under a Roentgen ray. The intent was to impress him and encourage him to continue his support and collaboration in confronting the Ottoman Turkish forces which have controlled the Middle East for four hundred years.

In 1917 Gertrude Bell published a thin volume called THE ARAB WAR where, among other things, she cautioned that the tribes of Iraq, with their complex social and political traditions, have advanced but little in seven hundred years, and anyone tasked with shaping their destinies should be prepared to be wearied by words signifying nothing.

I could not resist the opportunity to inquire of her views on Zionism. She admires the Jews, and is in agreement with Foreign Secretary Robert Cecil who said that a national home should be found for “the most gifted race that mankind has seen since the fifth century Greeks”, however not in Palestine; when pressed for her views by General Clayton, head of all British Intelligence in Cairo during the war, and one of her mentors, she opined that Arabs and Jews could not live together peaceably side by side. For Gertrude Bell, Palestine for the Jews is an impossible proposition.

In Paris, Miss Bell will meet with T.E. Lawrence and Prince Feisal to plot strategy for Feisal’s appearance before the Supreme Council on February 6. Lawrence has alerted her of Feisal’s intent: he would present his case for Arab independence but if the Arabs must live under a mandate, his preference is that it be American. Miss Bell at present supports Feisal’s hope for an independent Iraq, but in her own mind she is conflicted by the knowledge of the profound differences between the people of northern, central, and southern Iraq/Mesopotamia. Miss Bell cares deeply about these wild, untamed Arabs and freely confesses that there are times when she wonders to herself if she is more Arab than English.