Secrets of Crewe House/Chapter 3
OPERATIONS AGAINST AUSTRIA-HUNGARY: PROPAGANDA’S MOST STRIKING SUCCESS.
Little time was spent in deciding that, of all enemy countries, Austria-Hungary would be most susceptible to propaganda. With the assistance of such authorities as Mr. Wickham Steed and Dr. Seton-Watson, Lord Northcliffe was soon able to propose a line of sound policy for the sanction of the Foreign Office.
It is strange that determined action on some such lines had not been initiated previously by the Allied Governments. They had failed to profit from the anti-Hapsburg and anti-German sentiment of the oppressed subject races of the Dual Monarchy. Three-fifths of the Hapsburg peoples were actually or potentially well disposed to the Allies, and it was towards this majority that Lord Northcliffe decided that propaganda must be directed with two objectives, one constructive and one destructive:—
(1) The moral and active support of the national desires of these races for independence, with the ultimate aim of forming a strong non-German chain of Central European and Danubian States.
(2) The encouragement of their disinclination to fight on behalf of the Central Empires, thus greatly handicapping the Austro-Hungarian Armies as a fighting force, and seriously embarrassing the German military leaders.
It will be seen with what success each object was secured.
The nationalities chiefly affected were the Czechs and the Southern Slavs. There were also lesser numbers of Italians, Poles and Rumanes, whom it was intended to place under their own national Governments of Italy, the State of Poland (then projected and now established), and Rumania, which countries marched with the districts of Austria-Hungary inhabited by their respective races.
Operations were comparatively straightforward in every case except that of the Southern Slavs, in which the secret Treaty of London of April, 1915, presented a serious obstacle. At the beginning of 1918 few people realised the difficulties thus created, but since the cessation of hostilities the "Adriatic question" has loomed largely in the public view of international relations and is rightly regarded as one of the most troublesome problems of world politics. Its bearing on propaganda lay in the fact that by this treaty Great Britain, France and Russia had promised to Italy certain Austrian territories inhabited by Southern Slavs. These territories, moreover, provided trading access to the sea and were of the highest economic value to any Southern Slav state which might be formed. So long as that treaty was regarded by the Southern Slavs as representing Allied policy, it was difficult to persuade them that Allied sympathies were with them or that the Allies would secure for them the economic interests necessary to the establishment of the united Southern Slav state peopled by the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.
With the object of creating a counterpoise to the secret pact, representatives of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, had assembled in Corfu, under the leadership of Dr. Trumbitch (president of the Southern Slav Committee) and M. Pashitch (Prime Minister of Serbia), and had issued the Southern Slav Unitary Declaration on June 20, 1917, proclaiming the union of the three peoples and claiming all territory compactly inhabited by them, which (said the Declaration) "cannot be mutilated without attaint to the vital interests of the community. Our nation demands nothing that belongs to others, but only what is its own." On the one hand, this was an important counter-step to the partition of Dalmatia proposed in the Treaty of London; while on the other, it was a definite advance towards the solidification of the three peoples into nationhood. Consequently it was not without effect upon the German military leaders, who foresaw its influence upon the Southern Slav regiments of the Austro-Hungarian armies, and it undoubtedly hastened their decision to take direct control of the forces of the Dual Monarchy.
The next move was made after the Italian armies had recovered from the disaster of Caporetto and had re-established their line on the Piave. On the initiative of Mr. Wickham Steed, Dr. Seton-Watson, and other members of the Serbian Society of Great Britain, conferences took place in London between leading Italians and Southern Slavs, with the aim of outlining a solution of the question which would be acceptable to the two nations. A memorandum of the discussions was given to the Prime Minister of Italy (Signor Orlando), who was then (January, 1918) in London. At Mr. Steed's suggestion, Signor Orlando met Dr. Trumbitch and they discussed the question at great length, with the result that Dr. Trumbitch accepted an invitation from the Italian Premier to go to Rome.
Before that visit took place, Dr. Torre, a prominent member of the Italian Parliament, was sent to London, as representative of an influential joint committee of the two Italian Houses of Parliament, to endeavour to establish a definite basis of agreement. After much negotiation the representatives of the two nations engaged themselves to settle amicably the various territorial controversies in the interest of the future good and sincere relations between the two peoples, on the basis of the principles of nationality and of the right of peoples to decide their own destiny. The linguistic and economic interests of such minorities as might have to be included in the national territory of either party were also guaranteed.
This agreement of principle, made under the stress of war, coincided approximately with Lord Northcliffe′s entry into office. One of his first official acts was to dispatch Mr. Steed and Dr. Seton-Watson as a special mission to Italy. While there, they represented his department at the Congress of the Oppressed Hapsburg Nationalities which met with the consent of the Italian Government at Rome on April 7, 8, and 9, 1918. The holding of this Congress was, in itself, an important act of propaganda. This unprecedented assembly, representing Italians, Poles, Czecho-Slovaks, Southern Slavs, and Rumanes, resolved upon common action in the proclamation of the right of national unity of these peoples and also confirmed, in striking fashion, the decisions arrived at between Italians and Southern Slavs in London. Signor Orlando, Signor Bissolati and other Italian Ministers expressed publicly their adhesion to the resolutions, which were as follows:—
- “The representatives of the nationalities subjected in whole or in part to the rule of Austria-Hungary—the Italians, Poles, Rumanes, Czechs, and Southern Slavs—join in affirming their principles of common action as follows:—
- "(1) Each of these peoples proclaims its right to constitute its own nationality and State unity, or to complete it, and to attain full political and economic independence.
- "(2) Each of these peoples recognises in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy the instrument of German domination and the fundamental obstacle to the realisation of its aspirations and rights.
- "(3) The assembly recognises the necessity of a common struggle against the common oppressors, in order that each people may attain complete liberation and national unity within a free State unit.
- "The representatives of the Italian people and of the Jugo-Slav people in particular, agree as follows:—
- "(1) In the relations of the Italian nation and the nation of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes—known also under the name of the Jugo-Slav nation—the representatives of the two peoples recognise that the unity and independence of the Jugo-Slav nation is a vital interest of Italy, just as the completion of Italian national unity is a vital interest of the Jugo-Slav nation. And therefore the representatives of the two peoples pledge themselves to employ every effort in order that during the war and at the moment of peace, these ends of the two nations may he completely attained.
- "(2) They declare that the liberation of the Adriatic Sea and its defence against every present and future enemy is a vital interest of the two peoples.
- "(3) They pledge themselves also, in the interest of good and sincere relations between the two peoples in the future to solve amicably the various territorial controversies on the basis of the principles of nationality and of the right of peoples to decide their own fate, and in such a way as not to injure the vital interests of the two nations, as they shall be defined at the moment of peace.
- "(4) To such racial groups (nuclei) of one people as it may be found necessary to include within the frontiers of the other, there shall be recognised and guaranteed the right of their language, culture, and moral and economic interests."
Meanwhile, Lord Northcliffe and his experts had, in accordance with the principle consistently followed by Crewe House, determined the broad lines of policy upon which propaganda against Austria-Hungary was to be based. A memorandum on the subject was prepared and forwarded by Lord Northcliffe on February 24, 1918, to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for his consideration and approval. The following are the principal points of the memorandum:
"I have long been of opinion that it would be well to concentrate on Propaganda in Austria.
"I have made a point of seeing every available person who has come out of Austria, including many Americans who returned to the United States when I was there. All shared the same view—that the Dual Monarchy entered the greater war in a half-hearted spirit; is weary of the war; has endured hardships approaching starvation; and realises that there is no benefit for Austria arising out of the war.
"The control of the Presses of the various nationalities composing the Dual Monarchy is so absolute that the real facts of the war are unknown to the multitude. Germany is not idle in Austria or elsewhere.
"For example, the entrance of the United States into the war has been belittled, and described as mere American 'bluff.' Many subjects of Austrian nationalities had, before the war, considerable knowledge of the United States, owing to the great emigration to that country. They would realise the power of the United States if explained to them.
"It is submitted with respect, therefore, that one of the first steps to be taken is to spread, through all available channels, accurate facts about the American preparations.
"But, before making any beginning in that direction, or any others, I feel that I must be placed in possession of knowledge of the policy of the Allies as to the Dual Monarchy.
"I should be greatly obliged if you would give me your opinion on the following suggestions, which are made after consultation with those well acquainted with Austria. If they merit your approval, it is suggested that they be submitted to the United States, France, and Italy.
"It is suggested that there are two policies for the Department of Propaganda in Enemy Countries. In order that there may be no misunderstanding I have recapitulated elementary facts generally known.
"These two policies are as follows:
"(a) To work for a separate peace with the Emperor, the Court, and the aristocracy, on the principle of not interfering with the domestic affairs of the Hapsburg Monarchy, and of leaving its territory almost or quite intact; or
"(b) To try to break the power of Austria-Hungary, as the weakest link in the chain of enemy States, by supporting and encouraging all anti-German and pro-Ally peoples and tendencies.
"The (a) policy has been tried without success. The Hapsburgs are not free agents. They have not the power, even though they may wish, to break away from Germany, because—
"(1) They are controlled by the internal structure of their dominions (the Dual System), which gives Germany decisive leverage over them through the Germans of Austria and the Magyars of Hungary; and
"(2) Because the Allies cannot offer them acceptable terms without breaking with Italy.
"It remains to try the (b) policy.
"This policy is not primarily, or even, in the last resort, necessarily anti-Hapsburgian; it is not opposed to the interests of the Roman Catholic religion; and it is in harmony with the declared aims of the Allies.
"The Empire of Austria contains some 31,000,000 inhabitants. Of these less than one-third, i.e., the 9,000,000 or 10,000,000 Germans of Austria, are pro-German. The other two-thirds (including the Poles, Czechoslovaks, Rumanes, Italians, and Southern Slavs) are actively or passively anti-German.
"The Kingdom of Hungary, including the 'autonomous' kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia has a population of approximately 21,000,000 of which one-half (Magyars, Jews, Saxons, and Swabians) may be considered pro-German, and the rest (Slovaks, Rumanes, and Southern Slavs) actively or passively anti-German.
"There are thus in Austria-Hungary, as a whole, some 31,000,000 anti-Germans, and some 21,000,000 pro-Germans. The pro-German minority rules the anti-German majority. Apart from questions of democratic principle, the policy of the Allies should evidently be to help and encourage the anti-Germans.
"The chief means of helping them may be specified thus:
"(1) The Allied Governments and the President of the United States should insist upon their determination to secure democratic freedom for the races of Austria-Hungary on the principle of 'government by consent of the governed.' Expressions such as 'self-government,' or 'autonomous development' should be avoided, because they have a sinister meaning in Austria-Hungary and tend to discourage the friends of the Allies.
"(2) For the same reason, statements that the Allies do not wish to 'dismember Austria' should be avoided. The war cannot be won without so radical a transformation of Austria-Hungary as to remove its peoples from German control. The Hapsburgs may be driven to help in this transformation if Allied encouragement of the anti-German Hapsburg peoples is effective. By themselves the Hapsburgs cannot effect a transformation except in an increasingly pro-German sense.
"(3) For propaganda among the anti-German peoples the agencies already existing should be utilised. These agencies are chiefly the Bohemian (Czecho-Slovak) National Alliance, the Southern Slav Committee, and various Polish organisations.
"(4) The present tendency of the Italian Government to shelve the policy embodied in the London Convention of April 26, 1915,
and to adopt a policy of agreement with the anti-German races of Austria-Hungary should be encouraged and stimulated.
"(5) The ultimate aim of Allied policy should be, not to form a number of small, disjointed States, but to create a non-German Confederation of Central European and Danubian States.
"(6) The Germans of Austria should be free to join the Confederated States of Germany. They would, in any case, tend to secede from a transformed Austria, in which they would no longer be able to rule over non-German peoples.
"In view of the great amount of cabling that will be necessary to achieve unity, may I ask you to let me have either your own suggestions, or your approval of those above mentioned, as speedily as possible?"
In his reply, Mr. Balfour wrote on February 26, 1918:—
"Your very lucid memorandum raises in one shape or another the fundamental problem of the Hapsburg Empire. A final and authoritative answer to the question you put to me can only be given (if given at all) by the Cabinet, speaking in the name of the Government. But I offer the following observations on the subject, in the hope that they may help you in the immediate task for which you have been made responsible.
"If the two alternative policies of dealing with the Dual Monarchy set forth in your paper were mutually exclusive, and if they involved distinct and even opposite methods of propaganda, our position would be even more difficult than it is. For what we can do with the Austrian Empire does not wholly depend upon our wishes, but upon the success of our arms and the views of our Allies, and, as these elements in our calculations cannot be estimated with certainty, we should inevitably remain in doubt as to which of the two mutually exclusive methods of propaganda it would be judicious to adopt.
"Fortunately, however, our position is not quite so embarrassing. As you point out with unanswerable force, everything which encourages the anti-German elements in the Hapsburg dominions really helps to compel the Emperor and the Court to a separate peace, and also diminishes the efficiency of Austria-Hungary as a member of the Middle-Europe combination. The Emperor, by these means, might be induced, or compelled, fundamentally to modify the constitution of his own State. If he refused to lend himself to such a policy, the strengthening of the non-German elements might bring about the same end even more effectually than if he lent his assistance to the process. But in either case the earlier stages of that process are the same, and a propaganda which aids the struggle of the nationalities now subject either to Austrian Germans or to Magyar Hungarians towards freedom and self-determination, must be right, whether the complete break-up of the Austrian Empire or its de-Germanisation under Hapsburg rule be the final goal of our efforts."
When acknowledging this prompt reply, Lord Northcliffe pointed out that his anxiety to move as rapidly as possible was due to the belief of the Italians that a strong Austrian or Austro-German offensive against Italy would be launched within the next two months. "If our propaganda in Austria is to help to weaken this offensive, or to turn it into a defeat, it ought, in my judgment, to begin at once, and all the agencies we can command ought to be hard at work within a fortnight.
"The representative of the American Propaganda Department is in London. The Italian will be here next week, and we could no doubt have a French representative at the same time.
"As to the memorandum, I am very pleased that you are in substantial agreement with the policy outlined. The two policies may not be mutually exclusive in the last resort, but it is very important that one or the other of them should be given absolute precedence. It would place me in an awkward predicament if, after basing vigorous propaganda on the (b) policy, I were confronted with some manifestation of the (a) policy on the part of the British or other Allied Government. For this reason I hope that the War Cabinet will not delay its own decision, and that it will try to get a decision from France, Italy, and the United States as quickly as possible.
"It goes without saying that public declarations on behalf of the British, French, and Allied Governments, and, if possible, on the part of President Wilson, in the sense of the (b) policy would, if promptly made, greatly facilitate my efforts."
Obviously the wise course was to place action in carrying out this policy on an Inter-Allied basis. Lord Northcliffe, therefore, convened meetings in London which were attended by Italian, French and American representatives. It was decided to organise a committee to arrange with France and Italy for united operations on the Italian front against the Austro-Hungarian armies.
Accordingly, the special mission which Lord Northcliffe had sent to Italy, and of which Mr. Steed and Dr. Seton-Watson were the principal members, was entrusted with this task. With the willing support and co-operation of the Italian Prime Minister, the Italian Commander-in-Chief, and the British and French Commanders on the Italian Front, a permanent Inter-Allied Propaganda Commission was organised at the Italian General Headquarters. Italy provided the President (Colonel Siciliani) and one commissioner (Captain Ojetti) and Great Britain and France one commissioner each (Lieutenant-Colonel B. Granville Baker and Major Gruss respectively). To the Commission were attached, as a result of representations from Mr. Steed, representatives of committees of each of the oppressed nationalities. Mr. Steed, speaking on behalf of Lord Northcliffe, urged that only representatives of these races were fully qualified to speak to their co-nationals on the vital subjects which would form the theme of their propagandist productions.
The Commission began work on April 18, 1918. It acquired a polyglot printing press at Reggio Emilia. A weekly journal was published containing news (collected by a special Italian office ably organised by Professor Borgese at Berne) quadruplicated in the Czech, Polish, Southern Slav, and Rumanian languages. The assistance of the national representatives was valuable to the point of indispensability in ensuring accuracy of translation and suitability of contents. These representatives also composed leaflet manifestoes. Coloured reproductions of pictures of a patriotic, or religious, nature which appealed to the nationalist aspirations and piety of the races, were made. All this literary matter was dispatched straight to the front-line armies from the printing press, and distributed by means of aeroplanes (one per army being detailed for this purpose), rockets, which were constructed to hold about 30 pamphlets, and grenades, and also by contact patrols. These patrols were originally formed by bodies of troops raised on the responsibility of the various Italian armies, and were composed of deserters of Czecho-Slovak, Southern Slav, Polish, or Rumanian nationalities who had volunteered for this service against their hereditary enemy. They were wonderfully successful. The total number of leaflets and other productions thus distributed ran into many millions. But this by no means exhausted the channels of propagandist effort. Gramophone records of Czecho-Slovak and Southern Slav songs were secured by the British Commissioner and effectively used for the awakening of the nationalist sentiment among the troops of these races in the Austrian armies. The instruments were placed in "No Man's Land," and so close to each other were the front trenches of the opposing armies that the words and music could easily be heard.
The Austro-Hungarian section of Crewe House, of which section Mr. Steed and Dr. Seton-Watson were the directors, maintained the closest touch with the Commission. Specimens of literature were exchanged between the Commission and other sections of Crewe House, and it was not uncommon for one news leaflet to appear in eight or ten different languages, with a total circulation of several millions of copies. The Austro-Hungarian section also necessarily kept in the closest touch with the Czecho-Slovak, Southern Slav, Polish, and Rumanian leaders and organisations in Allied and neutral countries. It also co-operated with Mr. S. A. Guest in the organisation of civil and secret channels in neutral countries by which propaganda literature could be introduced into Austria-Hungary.
The effect of the launching of the propaganda leaflet campaign was soon apparent. Unrest became manifest among the Austro-Hungarian forces. Deserters belonging to the subject races came over to the Allied lines. This was one of the chief causes contributory to the postponements of the Austrian offensive carefully planned for April. When this attack was eventually made—in June—the Italian commanders, and their Allied colleagues, had full information concerning enemy plans and positions.
But, unhappily, the propaganda, and, consequently, the military, campaigns were impaired by reactionary tendencies within the Italian Government. Had the Italian Government been prepared in May, 1918, to join with their Allies and Associates in making a joint public declaration in strong and unmistakable language in favour of the creation of a united and independent Southern Slav State and in recognising the Czecho-Slovaks as an Allied and belligerent nation, the result would undoubtedly have precipitated the collapse of Austria in the early part of the summer of 1918.
Instead of seizing the opportunity for this united and strong pronouncement which presented itself at a meeting of the Prime Ministers of Great Britain, France, and Italy, held at Versailles, on June 3, 1918, the following declarations were made:—
(1) The creation of a united and independent Polish State with free access to the sea constitutes one of the conditions of a solid and just peace and of the rule of right in Europe.
(2) The Allied Governments have noted with pleasure the declaration made by the Secretary of State of the United States Government (in referring to the resolutions of the Rome Congress of Austro-Hungarian nationalities), and desire to associate themselves in an expression of earnest sympathy for the nationalistic aspirations towards freedom of the Czecho-Slovak and Jugo (Southern)-Slav peoples.
The regrettable weakness of the second declaration, which followed very closely the wording of Mr. Lansing's earlier announcement on behalf of the United States Government, was entirely due to the opposition of Baron Sonnino (Italian Foreign Minister), who rejected the stronger declarations prepared by Mr. Balfour and the French Foreign Minister, M. Pichon. It was a retrogressive step by Italy from the position she had taken at the Rome Congress, at which her Prime Minister had expressly associated himself with the terms of the Italo-Southern Slav agreement that recognised the "unity and independence of the Jugo-Slav nation as a vital Italian interest." In regard to the Czecho-Slovaks, the British, French, and Italian Governments had already recognised the Czecho-Slovak Army, under the Bohemian National Council, as an Allied force.
Towards the end of June, Mr. Lansing made considerable advance with a definite statement that the United States aimed at the complete liberation of all Slav peoples from Austro-German domination.
While Lord Northcliffe and his associates were striving hard in London to retrieve the opportunities thus wasted, the propaganda organisation in Italy was making remarkable progress despite the vacillations of the politicians. Undoubtedly the reactionary attitude of Baron Sonnino at Versailles influenced adversely the response of the Southern Slav troops in the Austrian ranks to the appeals made by the propaganda leaflets. Nevertheless, there was a considerable amount of desertion from the Austro-Hungarian Army. Among the deserters were numbers of junior officers, not professional soldiers, but men who in private life were lawyers, merchants, and so on. These men were all led to come over by the prospect of liberation which the propaganda held out to them. Men of other ranks were induced to desert, either in order to join relatives among their co-nationals fighting in the Italian Army, of whom news had reached them through the propaganda agency, or else by the more elementary considerations of food, comfort, and safety. It was noticeable that nearly all the deserters brought with them copies of the leaflets distributed by the Allied Commission.
That the propaganda had seriously alarmed the Austro-Hungarian authorities was made evident by reference to it in Army Orders and in the Austrian and German Press, which even reproduced some of the literary efforts, and vilified Lord Northcliffe in their most fervent manner. It even affected the minor tactics of the Austro-Hungarian Army, for it necessitated the detachment of machine-gun sections to deal with attempts at desertion en masse during the Piave offensive, which was eventually launched by the Austrians at the end of June. There was at least one authenticated account of a mutiny among Czech troops being suppressed by Germans and Magyars during that offensive. Desertions of single men or small parties were frequent before and during the action, and one case is known of a whole unit having come over. This was a company composed entirely of Jugo-Slavs. The Company Commander (Jugo-Slav and strongly Nationalist), on going his rounds a couple of hours before the attack began, gathered from his men's conversation that they had no intention of fighting. He was able to bring his whole company over.
The delay of the offensive, mainly on account of Allied propaganda, proved to be very important, because, when it came the Piave rose behind the Austrian army and converted the attack into something like a disaster. There is reason to believe that many ammunition dumps behind the enemy lines were blown up by the Czechs. A rumour was spread in the Press that the Southern Slavs had been fighting desperately against Italy, but this was officially denied. The divisions in question were a mixture of Germans, Magyars, Poles, and Ruthenes. It appeared that the Southern Slav divisions had been divided up and mixed with "reliable" troops, which showed that the Austrians were afraid of them. The prisoners taken, as a rule, expressed willingness to volunteer at once. Dalmatian prisoners showed great enthusiasm for Jugo-Slavia and the Allies.
After the Piave battle, members of the Inter-Allied Propaganda Commission were received and thanked by the Italian Commander-in-Chief. General Diaz said that the victory was due in considerable measure to their efforts.
In August the Inter-Allied Conference on Enemy Propaganda, convoked by Lord Northcliffe, met at Crewe House. In regard to propaganda against Austria-Hungary, the Committee formed to consider questions of policy found itself in complete agreement with the scheme of policy sanctioned by the British Government for purposes of Propaganda, and amplified by the decisions of the British, French, and Italian Governments at the time of, or in connection with, the Rome Congress of Oppressed Austro-Hungarian Nationalities. It recognised that such extensions of policy, while springing from considerations of Allied principles, had, in part, corresponded to the real demands of the propaganda situation, which, in their turn, had sprung from the exigencies of the military situation and, in particular, from the necessity of utilising the established principles of the alliance for the purpose of impeding or hampering the Austro-Hungarian offensive against Italy. Subsequent acts and declarations on the part of Allied Governments and of the Government of the United States made it clear that the joint policy of the Allies was tending increasingly towards the constructive liberation of the subject Austro-Hungarian races. The main task of the Committee in relation to propaganda in Austria-Hungary seemed, therefore, to be one of unifying for propaganda purposes these various acts and declarations, and of preparing, if possible, the way for a joint Allied declaration that might complete and render more effective the work of Allied propaganda both in the interior of Austria-Hungary and among Austro-Hungarian troops at the front. The Committee resolved to suggest that the Italian Government take the initiative in promoting a joint and unanimous public declaration that all the Allies regard the establishment of a free and united Jugo-Slav State, embracing Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, as one of the conditions of a just and lasting peace, and of the rule of right in Europe. Such a declaration was actually made by the Italian Government, but so tardily that its propaganda effect was reduced to a minimum.
Reports from the British Commissioner at Padua chronicled the uninterrupted continuance of the preparation and distribution of leaflets. The work was so developed that a distributing capacity of almost a million leaflets a day was obtained. Proof of the value of the work was afforded by the arrival of deserters, belonging to the subject races, in the Italian lines bringing with them the manifestoes and saying, "I have come because you invited me." A special leaflet was prepared in London, with the co-operation of a member of the Southern Slav Committee, for distribution by aeroplane at various points on the Dalmatian coast, where Southern Slav insurgents were ascertained to be gathered in considerable numbers. A detailed description, compiled from official sources, of the overwhelming character of American war preparations (which the enemy was constantly belittling) was telegraphed to Padua for translation into Austro-Hungarian languages, and for distribution in leaflet form among Austro-Hungarian troops.
Progress was even made among the Magyars who had fought with remarkable ferocity on the Montello. The agrarian question that had troubled Hungary for some time was used for propaganda purposes and many Magyar desertions ensued. The constant efforts exerted an ever-increasing and cumulative influence on the enemy. The collapse of Bulgaria opened a new front for operations against Austria-Hungary and a Propaganda Commission under Lieutenant-Colonel Granville Baker was quickly organised on the lines of the Padua Commission and dispatched to Salonika. Operations were promptly started, but it soon became evident that the end was near. As the Allied armies on the Western fronts advanced, news of their progress and of Bulgaria's defection was continually and promptly sent over the Austrian lines. There is no doubt that this contributed to the increased amount of desertion and disorder among the Austrian forces, culminating in the débâcle produced by the final Allied attack in October, which brought down the military and political organisations of the Dual Monarchy.Crewe House had every reason to be proud of the success of its work against Austria-Hungary. The conception of the whole
Leaflet No. 1.For translation see Appendix, page 237.
Leaflet No. 2.For translation see Appendix, page 237.
propaganda campaign—its policy, its scope, its application—was due to Lord Northcliffe and the co-directors of the Austrian Section of his department, Mr. Wickham Steed and Dr. Seton-Watson. The results fully vindicated every basic principle of their propaganda strategy. There were difficulties to be overcome at every turn, of which political and personal ambitions abroad were not the least. To keep the work on the straight metals of uninterrupted progress necessitated unremitting vigilance and ceaseless consultation with the numerous interests concerned. The result was the greatest victory achieved by war propaganda—the culmination of a constructive campaign, which, could it have been extended to its logical conclusions, would have achieved a just and lasting peace, liberating millions of our fellow-men from a tyrannous yoke to the enjoyment of that political freedom which is the inalienable right of civilised mankind.