Down to that moment, the Kaiser, rightly or wrongly, had counted as the ally of the Czar in all matters relating to the East. Holleben and Cassini were taken to be a single force in Eastern affairs, and this supposed alliance gave Hay no little anxiety and some trouble.
The Ambassador was firm in his conviction that no assurances would be forthcoming. A week later Von Holleben appeared at the White House to talk of another matter and was about to leave without mentioning Venezuela. The President stopped him with a question. No, said the Ambassador, no word had come from Berlin.
Many years later, when Roosevelt and I discussed this episode we cast about for reasons to account for the Kaiser's sudden back-down. We concluded that after the first interview Holleben either did not cable to Berlin at all, or he gave the message with his own comment that it was all a bluff.
When the German Ambassador, Dr. von Holleben, one of the pompous and ponderous professorial sort of German officials, was calling on him at the White House, the President told him to warn the Kaiser that unless he consented, within a given time about ten days to arbitrate the Venezuelan dispute, the American fleet under Admiral Dewey would appear off the Venezuelan coast and defend it from any attack which the German Squadron might attempt to make.
He says that in some way the editor of the Chicago Tribune found out about this meeting and wrote a very severe editorial, after which, he adds, that von Holleben and himself had to be more careful.
In order to screen the Kaiser's mortification from the world, Roosevelt declared that his transaction which only he, the Kaiser, and Holleben knew about should not be made public at the time; and he even went so far, a little later, in speaking on the matter as to refer to the German Emperor as a good friend and practicer of arbitration.
Holleben displayed consternation; he protested that since his Imperial Master had refused to arbitrate, there could be no arbitration. His Imperial Master could not change his Imperial Mind, and the dutiful servant asked the President whether he realized what such a demand meant. The President replied calmly that he knew it meant war.
The author not only gives an account of the conference held at the Waldorf-Astoria between Ambassador von Holleben, Professors Munsterberg of Harvard and Schoenfield of Columbia and himself, on the one side, and Herman Ridder on the other, but he gives the instructions from Berlin that Herr Ridder could only keep his subsidy from the German Government for the New Yorker Staats Zeitung by placing his fealty to Germany first and subordinating his Americanism, and that otherwise Ambassador von Holleben would found a rival German paper that would have back of it "unlimited resources, to wit: the total resources of the German Empire."
Within thirty-six hours Dr. Holleben returned to the White House and announced to President Roosevelt that a dispatch had just come from Berlin, saying that the Kaiser would arbitrate. On the announcement that Germany had consented to arbitrate, the President publicly complimented the Kaiser on being so stanch an advocate of arbitration.
When the "pacific blockade" passed into the stage of active hostilities, the patience of Roosevelt snapped. The German Ambassador, von Holleben, was summoned to the White House. The President proposed to him that Germany should arbitrate its differences with Venezuela. Von Holleben assured him that his "Imperial Master" would not hear of such a course.