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- The Secrets of the German War Office - 10/34 -
as a dancer. Then I made my second dramatic play for confidence. I suddenly stopped going to the Folies. I suppose it was rather lonesome in Constantinople and a man who was not a Turk was a novelty.
One afternoon she sent for me and I was confronted with a human situation which I must in this narrative of Secret Service operations treat as impersonal though it is full of pathetic implications. I found her with her luggage packed.
"Why haven't you come to the Folies lately?" she demanded with a pretty air of bossing the situation.
I told her my work at the hospital had made heavy inroads upon my time.
"Oh!" she began, tapping a little boot impatiently on the floor; after a pause, "I have to leave for Paris. . . . Well?"
"That is most unfortunate."
"Is that all?"
"To say anything more would only be painful, Machere Cecelia."
"But there is no need of our being blue. Why not make the occasion a happy one? Why not come along to Paris?"
She looked up at me with an impudent little smile.
"My dear little girl," I said, "I am no man of means and I cannot go gadding about Europe. Besides, I have my work here. I will be busy at the hospital for another month."
That seemed to displease her. She looked at me carefully, unconsciously her manner changed. She became somewhat appraising. It seemed as though a different woman was speaking,
"Franz," she said, "a man like you is wasting his time pottering around a hospital with your evident knowledge of the world and people. With your education and travels you ought to be very valuable to certin men back in Paris."
I felt what was coming, but I asked her to explain. She did so and from her I received a tentative offer to enter the French Secret Service. I had difficulty in mastering the muscles of my face to keep from betraying the laughter that was almost ready to break out. Very gravely I asked her to tell me more about Secret Service. Proudly, Cecelia showed me letters that she had received from Paris. From the addresses and the signatures I thus learned the individuals in direct control of the system that was undermining German influence by using demi-mondaines such as Mlle. Balniaux. I gathered that Cecelia Coursan was only a go-between for Mlle. Balniaux in making her reports to the French government. I asked her some more questions, exclaiming that her proposal interested me tremendously.
I pretended to be particularly anxious as to what pay I would receive were I to come to an understanding with "her friend in Paris." She assured me it was liberal and urged me to hasten to Paris. I told her that as soon as I finished my work at the hospitals I would do so. She then asked me to take charge of her mail and to forward any letters that might come for her. I did--to the Wilhelmstrasse.
That incident is one of those in my Secret Service work of which I am not entirely proud. Of course from my viewpoint Cecelia Coursan was not a woman, she was simply the paid agent of another government and it was a case of her wits against mine; at least with this sophistry I quieted my doubts.
Three years later I found the same little woman in an obscure cafe in Antwerp. She was no longer in the French Service. I concluded that her blunder in Constantinople had "broken" her, for she seemed to have gone down the ladder. She did not recognize me, but as she seemed to be in straitened circumstances, I found a way to assist her to at least three months' board and lodging by sending her anonymously 500 francs. It was conscience money.
When I had thus located and coupled up the chiefs of the French Secret Service with the situation in Constantinople, I began quietly to cultivate the acquaintance of the average Turkish officer. I had to learn the tendency of their thoughts. I met officers and merchants, administrators and students. From them all I learned that they were sick of the intrigues and wire-pulling of the harems. I learned of the discontent of the Young Turk party. I gathered that the time was ripe for an overturning of the government. In my report I made a correct forecast of the trend of affairs. I drew attention to Enver Bey, who was even then considered clever, even dangerous, by the Grand Vizier. As a most aggressive Young Turk, they had sent him to an obscure post in Thessalonia, but upon sounding out the younger officers I found that he was still regarded highly. Without doubt my reports in addition to the reports made by von der Golz, the accredited German instructor of the Turkish Army, helped to shape the policy of the German Foreign Office. I learned beyond all doubt that the Sultan Abdul Hamid was nothing but a figurehead, that the Grand Vizier, bought by Russian and French gold, was running the government in a way that was antagonistic to German influences and that the swarms of demi-mondaines in French and Russian pay were corrupting the higher Turkish officials to their cause. All these things I included in my report and after four months I was back in Berlin.
To better understand the diplomatic significance of this mission, I shall recast the political situation. The modern German policy in the European Orient, inaugurated by Bismarck as a defense and check against Russia, has always been keen on the friendship and good will of the Turk for reasons which will be obvious enough later. During the Caprivi Chancellorship, the relation between the two empires became rather lax. Wilhelm II with his keen farsightedness set about to remedy this. In his usual spectacular, but in most cases efficient, manner, he went with his royal consort in state to Palestine, calling first on the Sultan. The tremendously enthusiastic reception that the Moslem countries accorded him is a matter of contemporary history. This was really a master stroke of diplomacy although sharply criticised at the time.
Until the Kaiser's visit, France, with more or less right, considered herself protector general of all Mohammedans. From now on this began to change. The immediate result of the Emperor's visit was a close understanding between the Wilhelmstrasse and the Sublime Porte. The buying of vast quantities of guns, ammunition, and the influx of Prussian officers and drilling instructions, besides huge orders of all sorts of German goods was significant.
The always uneasy jealousy of France and Russia was at once aroused, England, in this instance, not taking any decided stand in affairs. England had spent many lives and much money, notably in the Crimean War, to keep Russia out of Turkey and was averse to encouraging Russo-French influences at the Sublime Porte. How far England would like either Germany or France to acquire control of the Dardanelles remains to be seen. With Russia, it has been bloody wars and grim struggles since the days of Catherine, misnamed the Great, to gaincontrol of the Dardanelles. Unceasing intrigues have been and are still going on in Stamboul. Russia's influence has been steadily undermined by Germany, in Turkey and Asia Minor. Since the disastrous campaign against Japan, Russia has made strenuous efforts to recoup her sphere of influence through her coalition of the principal Balkan States. Of this you will learn later.
Germany, always including Austria (the external policy of both countries on all these questions is synonymous), found French-Russian influences at work. Through their marvelous, efficient Intelligence System, Germany soon learned who were the prime movers and puppets; in this instance the Grand Vizier and the Seraglio officers; the then sultan, Abdul Hammid, "The Damned," being completely cowed and under the thumb of his Grand Vizier, could not be relied on for a moment. After my mission they knew in Germany that the time was ripe for a radical change, and they engineered it. Result: A revolution and the Young Turks in power, with Enver Bey, Tuofick Pasha, Ibrahim Mander Bey and similar men, with German training and learning, directing affairs. Germany regained complete sway and is to-day easily the most powerful influence in Turkey. What significance this has on the general bearing of European politics, I shall discuss in a later chapter.
Chapter V. The Grand Duke's Letter
After a number of more or less strenuous missions, I felt thoroughly run down. During the Boer War I had been shot through the left lung and now I began to experience trouble. A series of hemorrhages brought about by unchecked cold and exposure, led me to consult Professor Bayer, the noted specialist in Berlin. He advised me to get away from everything for a month at least, recommending the pine ozone.
There is no lack of pine forests in Germany or Norway; and I had plenty of acquaintances in both countries. To any one of them I would have been welcome, but this would have entailed social obligations and I wanted to be absolutely alone. There were but two of my friends at whose places I could do exactly as I wished, where man and beast knew me. One, whose place was in the Pushta, Hungary, was probably away on a hunting trip and Hungary was too remote. The other, a schoolmate of mine, lived near Furstenwalde, about fifty-eight kilometers from Berlin. Furstenwalde, I decided, was an ideal spot, near Berlin, yet isolated enough and in the heart of one of the largest of the well-cared-for Prussian domain forests. So Ehrenkrug, the seat of the _Koenigliche Ober Forsterei_ and the family seat of the Freiherren von Ehrenkrug, was the place I selected.
I had enjoyed three weeks of rest and quietness, doing some desultory fishing and shooting but spending most of my time in a hammock slung under some of the giant Fichten, when my sylvan idyl was disturbed by the red-faced, stub-nosed post boy of the Forsterei.
He brought me a letter from Graf Wedel, an astonishing missive.
I hope your health has improved sufficiently for you to attend to this matter. Be pleased to understand that this is by no means an official command. However, I need not point out to you the advantages, accruing to you through your assistance in the case. The matter briefly is this. I have been approached by the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerein to assist him in the solving of a rather delicate private affair. It is outside the usual routine but we find it advisable to comply. The mission is delicate and leads into England, for which reasons I have decided to let you undertake the affair if willing. In case of acceptance, all necessary leave of absence will be arranged. This is not a command but let me again point out the advisability of your showing compliance.
Truly yours, V. Wedel.
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