Heinrich Lammasch to George Davis Herron, October 21, 1919


↓Salzburg, October 21th 1919.

Dear Professor Herron,

The fate of President Wilson becomes a tragedy. The man who could have saved the world smitten by a mental malady! The times are not yet ripe for a statesman who is endowed with the fatal gift of a conscience. The case seems to me to be, that the President immediately after extricating himself of the pernicious influence of Paris began to understand how far he had been estranged from his principles and how he had been entangled in errors and injustice and that remorse overcame him. That was his moral breakdown. The question is now: are there remedies for the faults and crimes committed at Paris? If there are, they would also be remedies for him, they could perhaps restore his health and the clearness of his mind to their former state. Do you think that the council of the [society] of nations can contrive these remedies?

For us Austrians the hope lies in our speedy admission to the Assembly and in the Commission des Réparations. The state and [every one] of its citizens, with the exception of a few thousand war-profiteers, is bankrupt, though the word may have been avoided. Only people who are very rich or who live from the work of their hands are able to procure themselves a relatively decent [livelihood]. Wages for manual work have increased enormously in cipher, not in their purchasing value. A lamplighter in Vienna earns now about 12.000 crowns a year. Before the war that would have been 12.000 Swiss francs, now it is only 600 francs, but with these he can procure for himself the life he was wont or even a better one. Government [clerks] of rather high standing get no more, for them this salary is a social degradation. So the middle classes are almost condemned to starvation or at least to run into debts which will [encumber] their future life. That is the situation of all public and private [employees] at fixed salary, of the widows and old men, living from their rents. But in spite of their raised position, even people who live from their manual work are highly discontent. The number of people out of work is greater than ever before, although the opportunity and the necessity was never so great. Criminality, specially of juvenile offenders is rapidly and formidably increasing. Our government is far too weak to check the perpetual increase of expenditure, extorted by railway men, by postmen, by those out of work and so on. Government is also too weak to elevate the fixed maximum prices for agricultural products, quite out of proportion with the high cost of production. But for these prices peasants decline to purvey the towns, preferring to consume the products themselves in a sometimes rather lavish way or to sell them stealthily to the rich at enormous prices. So the population of the towns is condemned to starvation. Dr. Ferrière can report you about it. Until now the government was incapable to remedy these lamentable circumstances of the dismission of Mr. Otto Bauer, that fanatic of [socialization]. But an entire change can only be effectuated by being demanded from America and the Entente. Under condition [page 2] of a supervision of our financial administration by the league of nations, a loan granted to us for the purpose of consolidating our currency, for buying foodstuffs and raw materials in the next two or three years would be safe, and were not only a benefit for us but also for humanity at large which it would preserve from the ever renewing danger of Bolshevism.

I have written in a similar sense to Mr. Whitehouse and beg you to send him that letter. In that letter I have told him also that as a surety for the loan we could offer the mighty hydraulic forces of our Alps, and have mentioned that the extended pastures in the Alpine districts are very well adapted for breeding cattle and that the fertile territory in the other districts could be much better [utilized] for agrarian productions if we had sufficient manure and could be provided with machines.

Besides this letter Mr. Karmin will bring you also letters to President Starr Jordan, President Murray Butler and Professor James Brown Scott. In the two last mentioned letters I have applied to them for a position as correspondent of the Carnegie Endowment because in the present circumstances a small salary in a not depreciated currency would be of the greatest value for me. I beg you to send these letters also to Mr. Whitehouse for transmission to America by his courier.

With my compliments to Mrs. Herron, believe me dear Sir,

Yours very sincerely

(signed) Lammasch.

compliments from my wife and daughter.