Page:Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.djvu/31

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9
AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU'S STORY

spending hours over the card table at the Cercle d'Orient, or bending the Turkish officials to his will in the interest of Germany, all life was to him a game, which was to be played more or less recklessly, and in which the chances favoured the man who was bold and audacious and willing to pin success or failure on a single throw. And this greatest game of all—that upon which was staked, as Bernhardi has expressed it, "World empire or downfall"—Wangenheim did not play languidly, as though it had been merely a duty to which he had been assigned; to use the German phrase, he was "fire and flame" for it; he had the consciousness that he was a strong man selected to perform a mighty task. As I write of Wangenheim, I still feel myself affected by the force of his personality, yet I know all the time that, like the government which he served so loyally, he was fundamentally ruthless, shameless, and cruel. But he was content to accept all the consequences of his policy, however hideous these might be. He saw only a single goal, and, with the realism and logic that are so characteristically German, Wangenheim would brush aside all feelings of humanity and decency that might interfere with success. He accepted in full Bismarck's famous dictum that a German must be ready to sacrifice for Kaiser and Fatherland not only his life but his honour as well.

Just as Wangenheim personified Germany, so did his colleague, Pallavicini, personify Austria. Wangenheim's essential quality was a brutal egotism, while Pallavicini was a quiet, kind-hearted, delightfully mannered gentleman. Wangenheim was always looking to the future, Pallavicini to the past. Wangenheim represented the mixture of commercialism and medieval