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Anti-orthodoxisme ? L'histoire criminelle de Basil Zaharoff marchant de mort
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abourick
2008-11-29 14:25:39 UTC
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Grec orthodoxe par son ethnie, turc par sa nationalité d'origine, russe
par le nom qu'il s'est choisi, sa mentalité et ses intérêts économiques
voici la sordide histoire de l'un des plus grands criminels des XIXe et
XXe siècle, le marchant de canon et faiseur de guerre Basil Zaharoff.


http://mises.org/story/2687



The Merchant of Death: Basil Zaharoff


Zacharias Basileios Zacharias — later to be known as Basil Zaharoff —
was born October 6, 1849, apparently in Mugla, near the Turkish capital
of Angora. His people were Greeks who had lived in Constantinople, fled
to Odessa during the Turkish persecutions in 1821, returned to Mugla,
and then, when Basileios was three years old, took up their home again
in the Tatavla or poor district of Constantinople. The boy went to
school until he was sixteen, when some disaster to his father forced him
to go to work. He worked, we are told, as a fireman, a guide, a
moneychanger. There is more than a hint that these early years were
passed amid rough surroundings and that this impulsive and somewhat
lawless boy — like one of our prominent labor racketeers, to use his own
explanation of his twisted ethics — suffered from lack of "bringing-up."

When he was twenty-one he found work with an uncle in Constantinople who
had some sort of mercantile business. One day Basileios disappeared,
taking with him money from the cash drawer. The infuriated uncle traced
him to London where he was arrested. How or why he was arrested in
London for a crime committed in Turkey is not made clear. It was perhaps
a stage in the process of extradition. In any event Zaharoff pleaded
that he was a partner, not an employee, of his uncle, producing a paper
attesting that fact — a paper he had miraculously discovered in his
trouser pocket on his way to the courthouse — and was let off. This
episode is by no means clear. But what there is of it reveals the more
or less dark cloud in which he began his career.

As in all things relating to Zaharoff, there are other versions of this
flight. Robert Neumann, who spent some time investigating the story, but
unfortunately envelopes all that he writes in a cloud of luminous smoky
words, insists that it was not money, but goods that Zaharoff stole and
not from an uncle but from a Mr. Hiphentides; and, having converted the
merchandise into money, fled to London where he was arrested on the
complaint of Mr. Hiphentides, after which he was not acquitted but let
off with a reprimand on his promise to make amends.

Zaharoff, after this narrow escape, went to Greece, Turkey being "no
thoroughfare" to him. In Athens he made his Basileios Zacharias into
Basil Zaharoff. He remained in Athens from 1873 to 1877, living by odd
jobs of all sorts. Somehow stories of Zaharoff's unsavory past leaked
out in Athens. The atmosphere chilled for him among the youthful
compatriots with whom he fraternized. Apparently Athens became too
unpleasant, and the harassed youth moved on. A singular piece of good
fortune overtook him at this point. Shortly after his disappearance a
brief newspaper story told how a prisoner, Basileios Zaharoff, in an
attempt to escape from the old prison of Garbola in Athens, had been
shot and killed by a sentry. Zaharoff had made one friend in Athens —
Stephen Skouloudis, later the compliant premier of King Constantine in
his attempt to put Greece on the side of Germany, and then well on his
way to riches. He had taken a fancy to Zaharoff and he was shocked at
this story of his death.

Skouloudis went to Garbola, got a description of the prisoner who had
been killed, had the body exhumed, and satisfied himself that it was not
his maligned young friend. He traced the incident farther and learned
that the shameful calumny had been printed by a reporter who hated
Zaharoff. Having fled to England once more — this time to Manchester —
Zaharoff returned to Athens as soon as he heard of Skouloudis'
vindication of him to take advantage of the sympathy created for him by
this shocking injustice. This seemingly happened in 1877. He needed work
and Skouloudis added another claim upon his gratitude by recommending
him to the representative of a Swedish gun maker, who was leaving Greece
and looking for a successor. Zaharoff got that job, rushed in a frenzy
of gratitude to Skouloudis' home, fell upon his knees, covered his hands
with kisses and tears, and swore eternal friendship. Thus the first
phase of the career of this young Monte Cristo ended. Strangely, one
does not hear of further contact with Skoulbudis until 1915, when
Skouloudis was made Prime Minister of King Constantine and Zaharoff was
the brains and moneybag behind the conspiracy of France and Britain to
dethrone Constantine and bring the Greeks in on the side of the Allies.

III.

Zaharoff — twenty-eight years old — was now in the munitions industry in
which he spent the remainder of his eventful life. Torsten Vilhelm
Nordenfeldt, a small Swedish manufacturer, commissioned Zaharoff as his
agent for the whole Balkan territory at a salary of five pounds a week,
later augmented by commissions. It was a small beginning, but in a most
opportune time. The whole face of the munitions industry was changing —
due to the pressure of inventors, politicians, and merchants.

There was, of course, nothing new about the arms industry. It was not
invented before the World War or by the German junkers. It is a
business, like any other. Man, in his discussions with other men about
questions of religion, statecraft, geography, trade, has always reached
a point in the discussion where it has seemed wise to reply to his
opponent by disemboweling him or knocking his brains out. The demand for
instruments of discussion of this type, from the day of the leathern
armor and the flint spear, has always, quite naturally, inspired thrifty
entrepreneurs to provide them for profit. It is a business like law or
prostitution or hanging or banking or making shoes. Before the conqueror
can lift his sword the armorer must make one for him in his forge.
Before armies can march there must be men — thousands, hundreds of
thousands of them — who will make guns and cannon and tanks and trucks
and uniforms and shoes and food. It is a business and must be run as
such. It must have a producing department and a finance department and a
sales department. And as it is the function of the production department
to develop and produce better and deadlier means of slaughter, it is the
function of the sales department to find buyers, nay more, to stimulate
consumer demand.

And so behind every great warrior and war has loomed the figure of the
sutler, perhaps just a poor peddler following the troops with rum, or
some magnificent gentleman in his countinghouse doing business not with
the private in the field, but with the chief of staff in his bureau.
Behind Pericles was the shield maker Cleon. Behind Caesar was the banker
Crassus and the war contractors of Rome. Behind Maximilian was Jacob
Fugger and his rich copper mines in the Tirol. Behind Jeanne d'Arc was
Jacques Coeur, who, like a true patriot, supplied the Maid with arms and
funds, and, like a true munitioneer, sold arms, against the law of God
Himself, to the infidel and was stripped of his wealth and clothed in
sackcloth and made to murmur on his knees that he "had wickedly sent
armor and arms to the Sultan, enemy of the Christian faith and of the
King." Cromwell had to have his army provisioned the pious Thomas
Papillon. Behind Louis XIV was Sam Bernard the banker and the Brothers
Paris de Montmartel; behind Napoleon stood Ouvrard.

It is a strange business, indeed a little weird. Like any other business
it calls for a special kind of man with a special kind of talent and a
special kind of ethics. It is, indeed, in the words of an American agent
of a large submarine manufacturer, "a hell of a business, where you have
always to be hoping for trouble in order to prosper."

I do not pretend to fathom the depths of its ethics. Let someone
unriddle for me this human enigma: M. de Wendel, Frenchman, built a
great blast furnace in Briey. Briey lies on the German frontier; on the
other side, in Germany, is Thionville with its huge German blast
furnaces. There they are on either side of the frontier — Briey in
France, Thionville in Germany. Briey belongs to M. de Wendel; Thionville
to the Germans. The Great War begins. The French do not attack
Thionville; they do not defend Briey. They withdraw their lines and
permit Briey to fall into the hands of the Germans. Then throughout the
war Briey and Thionville are operated as one huge war production unit by
the Germans. They turn out iron and steel that is hurled in huge Big
Berthas and little German machine guns at French poilus who are mowed
down by the hundreds of thousands. First one officer and then another
asks why France does not attack and silence Briey and Thionville.
General Malleterre demanded an attack. M. Pierre Etienne Flandin, one
day to be premier, an officer then, urged it at the front. Bombardment
was begun by General Guillaumat, but stopped instantly by headquarters.
Deputies clamored for its destruction. A committee of the Senate urged
it. Even the Cabinet asked why Briey and Thionville were not stopped.
But nothing was done. They went ahead pumping out materials for Krupp's
throughout the whole war. When the war was over Briey was handed back to
M. de Wendel unscathed. Who is M. de Wendel? What manner of man is he?
What goes on underneath his vest? What goes on inside the heads of the
men, the officers, the politicians who protect "property" that is
flooding its iron and steel to Krupp's to slaughter French boys in a war
for the very life of France? Are they monsters? Are they demons?
Unfortunately they are not. And that is what makes it all so mysterious
and so difficult to deal with.

It was into this strange business that Basil Zaharoff stepped, carrying
with him an almost ideal spiritual equipment for the job. It was not
then a huge industry. Best known perhaps was Alfred Krupp, the cannon
maker of Essen. At ten he inherited a modest iron foundry from old
Frederick Krupp who had started it in 1823. At fourteen Alfred went into
the business and slowly took over its direction. Cannon were made of
copper. Alfred perfected a solid crucible steel block from which he made
cannon. But he had not yet perfected any projectile capable of
penetrating the intransigent mentality of military bureaucrats. Cannon
were made of copper, had always been, must always be! Herr Krupp learned
from the start that the way to sell cannon to the Prussian king was to
sell them also to Prussia's neighbors and enemies. He made his first
sales to Egypt, then to Austria. When the Austro-Prussian War began,
both armies fired Krupp's cannon balls at each other, and his guns would
have been working in both armies in the Franco-Prussian War but for
Napoleon Ill's refusal to buy them. Krupp's cannon made Bismarck's swift
victory possible. After that Krupp made and sold his cannon everywhere
in 1877 when Zaharoff entered the arms field.

In England Thomas Vickers developed the little engineering plant of his
late father into first a prosperous iron foundry making car wheels,
cast-steel blocks and cylinders. He then turned to making gun barrels
and armor plate and finally a growing line of weapons.

In France, Joseph Eugene Schneider, a small banker, bought Le Creusot,
an iron foundry and arms plant that had made weapons for France since
Louis XIV. Schneider was on the verge of bankruptcy when Napoleon Ill's
adventures saved him, rehabilitated him, and made him rich. Schneider
was trying desperately to break into the international arms business but
was meeting determined and successful resistance from Krupp.

Over in America, the du Ponts, Colts, Winchesters, and Remington were
prospering as a result of the impetus from the Civil War. Eleuthere
Irenee du Pont, son of the famous French radical, Pierre du Pont,
emigrated to America, found the powder for hunting quite poor,
established a powder mill patronized by Napoleon, and supplied most of
the powder used in the War of 1812. He was the friend of Jefferson,
suffered the inevitable after-the-war slump, and got aid in France from
Madame de Stael and Talleyrand. He then found rich markets in Spain and
in South America when dictators and revolutionists fought it out,
refused to sell to Cuba during our Mexican War because he feared his
powder would go to Santa Anna (though he hated that war), grew rich when
railroads and frontiersmen needed dynamite to blast the Western prairies
and mountains and forests, sold all he could make to England, France,
and Turkey during the Crimean War, and was the mainspring of the Union
in the war between the states. In 1877 the du Ponts were already the
dominating figures in the powder combinations being formed in America,
and by 1897 they were powerful enough to enter into an international
arrangement by which the powder makers of America and Europe divided the
world among themselves.

Colt made revolvers, sold them to the soldiers and frontiersmen who
conquered the Texas plains, failed, but grew rich through the Crimean
and Civil Wars.

Remington made a fortune with his guns in the Civil War but was ruined
by the peace. But Remington recovered from the Civil War by diversifying
his products, going into typewriters and sewing machines, and in 1877 he
again had his agents in Europe contending for the business of the armies
there.

Winchester, whose guns had created a sensation at the London Fair in
1851, made a sensational repeating rifle during the Civil War, had
thirty-eight establishments making small guns, when Zaharoff became a
munitioneer, and had in the field one of the first of the world's arms
salesmen extraordinary, Colonel Tom Addis, who equipped Juarez in Mexico
and whose guns sealed the fate of Maximilian.

There were other smaller firms. But taken as a whole the munitions
industry was not a vast affair. The men who made fortunes out of arms in
earlier times — the Brothers Paris, Chatelain, Ouvrard, Rothschild,
Bicker, Jacques Coeur — were not producers of arms or powder and ball.
These things had always until the first half of the nineteenth century
been made in small shops, by individual craftsmen, in little foundries,
the largest of which hired only a few hundred men at most. The fortunes
were made by contractors, middlemen, and brokers who assumed the
function of collecting weapons, food, grain, clothing for the armies.
But with the growth of Krupp and Schneider and Vickers and du Pont and
the others, the business of producing weapons and explosives had taken
on larger shape.

All the drifts in the world were moving in the direction of the magic
business into which young Mr. Zaharoff had stumbled. The customer of the
munitions maker is the soldier. And Europe was learning how to produce
many customers for him. France had begun it — republican France — with
her mass conscription during the Revolution. But the practice had died
out when, after 1815, liberalism once more swept over Europe, until,
with Napoleon III, the whole dark movement of militarism took on life
once more. Bismarck made almost every German a soldier. And after the
Franco-Prussian War, every monarch in Europe was eager to copy the
junker model. Then the nation did not wait for a war to raise an army, a
small mercenary army. In every country armies were formed during
peacetime, far outnumbering any that had ever fought in war. In short,
every able-bodied man in Europe was a customer for the gun makers, and
peace became as flourishing a period for them as ever war had been.
Europe became an armed camp, and the Krupps and Schneiders and Vickers
did not have to wait for war to do big business. France, sullen,
mourning her "lost provinces"; Italy, nourishing the dream of "Italia
Irridenta"; Germany, preparing against France's effort for revenge,
Russia, with her pan-Slavic dreams, the Balkans, waiting for the day to
free her enslaved peoples from Austria, Turkey, Germany — all made a
perfect climate for the trade of the sellers of rifles and cannon and
powder.

Moreover, the manufacturers of death did not sit still. New and more
terrible weapons were being fabricated. Smokeless powder, small-bore
magazine rifles for accuracy and distance, rifling of gun bores, the
French mitrailleuse blossoming into the machine gun, Krupp's
breach-loading monoblock guns, recoil appliances, the armored warship
that began with the Merrimac and Monitor and the submarine — all these
gave to the arms drummers a line of goods that introduced into armament
the stimulating element of style and quality obsolescence and kept the
ordnance departments busy junking old weapons and buying new ones.

This last element was one that told heavily on the side of the new arms
salesman in Athens — Nordenfeldt's new Balkan drummer. For Nordenfeldt,
though small, had an attractive collection of lethal gadgets. He had the
eccentric screw breach, the mechanical time fuse, an excellent
quick-firing gun, and, wonder of wonders, a submarine that he had invented.

Zaharoff had to look for business in the Balkans. The Turko- Russian War
had just ended. Greece saw herself left out of the division of loot and
she determined to arm. She planned an army of 100,000 instead of 20,000
— 100,000 customers for the young arms drummer instead of 20,000. Of
course, Zaharoff had to meet the competition of Krupp and others. But he
was a Greek and, by this time, we may be sure, burning with patriotism
and sales pressure.

But he did not sell a submarine until 1885 when he planted one in the
Greek navy. Having done this, the Greek patriot went to Greece's enemy,
Turkey, and sold two. By this time Hiram Maxim, the American, was
running away with the business in quick-firing guns, for his Maxim
machine gun outdistanced all rivals. He was going about Europe
demonstrating it himself and getting orders. This was a serious matter
for Nordenfeldt and his man Zaharoff. Just how it came about and who
managed it, no one knows, but in 1886 Maxim and Nordenfeldt joined
forces. But Zaharoff now held a substantial interest in the Nordenfeldt
firm.

With this development, Zaharoff began to range over a territory wider
than the Balkans. He had established relations with many of the most
influential persons in European war departments, ministries, and noble
social circles. He was the dominating sales force of the
Nordenfeldt-Maxim combination. Gradually Nordenfeldt vanished out of the
business, Zaharoff took his place as Maxim's partner, and the firm took
the name of the Maxim Guns and Ammunition Company, Ltd. It is a singular
fact that Hiram Maxim in his autobiography makes no reference to Zaharoff.

The next step was another combination with Vickers, Thomas Vickers — the
second largest English manufacturer of arms. Maxim became a member of
the Vickers board of directors. Zaharoff's name did not figure in the
organization at all. But he and Maxim, in some proportion unknown to
history, got for their company from Vickers £1,353,334, or over six and
a half million dollars, partly in cash and partly in stock in the
Vickers company. Zaharoff thus became a substantial stockholder in
Vickers and would one day be the largest of all. He also became the
chief salesman of Vickers which, unlike Krupp and Schneider, had
remained up to this point out of the international market. But Zaharoff
showed the way into this bountiful field, and thereafter he moved about
Europe with a card announcing him as the delegate of Thomas Vickers & Sons.

But Vickers was in no sense a great business. Its principal function had
been supplying guns for the British navy. It was prosperous and imposing
after the modest standards of that day. Its great growth dates from the
absorption of the Nordenfeldt company, with Nordenfeldt's submarine,
Maxim's machine gun, and the shrewd, dynamic salesmanship of Zaharoff.

IV.

Nothing was wanting but romance now to complete the equipment of Basil
Zaharoff for the principal role in a Dumas novel. And this he supplied
upon a pattern perfectly in keeping with his character. In 1889, while
he was ranging Europe — particularly Russia — for orders, he met Maria
del Pilar Antonia Angela Patiocinio Simona de Muguiro y Berute, the
Duchess of Villafranca. She was the wife of a young man closely
connected with the royal family of Spain. She proved useful to Zaharoff
in arranging connections in Spain that enabled him to sell many millions
of dollars of arms to the war department. But Zaharoff fell in love with
her and urged her to divorce her husband, who was ill and on the verge
of dementia. The Duchess, a good Catholic, would not consider divorce,
but she became Zaharoff's mistress, confident that her husband was
destined for a speedy death. His mind failed completely, he was put into
an insane asylum, and proceeded to disappoint the Duchess and her lover
by continuing to live for another thirty-five years. She continued as
ZaharofFs mistress; he remained attached to her with singular devotion
and in 1924, when her husband died, the two lovers — then aged and near
the end of their lives, he seventy-five and she over sixty — were
married in a little town outside Paris. They had had two daughters. The
Duchess, however, survived this marriage by only eighteen months and her
death left the aged bridegroom inconsolable.

About the time he met the Duchess, Zaharoff established a home in Paris.
He was rich and a man of striking, distinguished appearance; a small
mustache and imperial and drooping eyelids added an expression of
inscrutability to his grave countenance. He cultivated the habit of
silence. He avoided displays, public appearances. He took up his place
in that foggy, ill-lighted world so fascinating to the readers of
newspapers — the world of Behind the Scenes. He had acquaintances, if
not friends, among the most important people in Europe. He was now a
part owner, sales delegate, guiding spirit of a growing British armament
firm, but with his home in France. He spoke Turkish, Greek, French,
Italian, German, and probably various Balkan dialects. And the world was
unfolding auspiciously if not beautifully before him in the grim
business in which he flourished.

As for Vickers, it now began to expand upon an impressive scale. By 1890
England set out upon a more ambitious naval program than ever. Vickers,
which had been a builder of guns, now went into naval construction, as
did Krupp in Germany. It acquired a controlling interest in Beardmore's
great shipbuilding firm in Glasgow. It took over the Naval Armaments
Company with its dockyards, the Woolsey Tool & Motor Company and the
Electric & Ordnance Accessories Company. It became a great department
store of lethal weapons and could supply its customers with anything
from a rifle to a battleship. Sir Vincent Caillard became its financial
genius as Zaharoff was its sales genius. They made an excellent team.
Caillard knew how to mix the hard, cruel funcBASIL ZAHAROFF 351 tions of
gun-making finance with the more delicate and spiritual values of
versemaking, like another and earlier munitioneer, Bonnier de la Mosson,
who accumulated a fortune as an army contractor in the time of Louis XV
and exercised his leisure by writing verses so bad that Voltaire said
they ought to be crowned by the Academy. Sir Vincent made music too and
he found time amidst the dark sophistications of munitions finance to
set to music Blake's Songs of Innocence.

Events favored them — the Spanish-American War, the Chinese- Japanese
War, the English-Boer War, in which the Tommies, armed with Vickers
rifles, were scientifically mowed down with Maxim's pom-pom, or
quick-firing cannon, supplied to the Boers by M. Zaharoff of Vickers.
But the greatest opportunity was the Russo-Japanese War. When it ended
all Europe's war ministries awoke. The war had been a great proving
ground for guns and ships — a laboratory for militarists. Above all,
Russia had to start at the bottom and completely rebuild her shattered
armies. The Czar provided over $620,000,000 for rearming. All the
armament makers in the world flocked to St. Petersburg. Zaharoff,
representing Vickers, arrived first on the scene. He spoke Russian
fluently. He was a member of the Orthodox Greek Church. He had spent
much time in Russia. He knew his way around.

The Schneider-Creusot firm felt it had a special claim on Russian
business. Was not Russia France's ally? Were not French bankers
financing Russia? There developed swiftly a struggle between Schneider
and Vickers out of which Zaharoff emerged with the largest share of the
booty. Indeed, this particular episode established him definitely as the
great master arms merchant of the world.

This fight centered upon two projects — the Putilov munitions works and
a plan to erect a new and comprehensive artillery plant somewhere in Russia.

The contest became somewhat complicated, as all armament contests in
Europe are. Behind Schneider was the Banque de l'Union Parisienne, in
which he held a large interest. Oddly enough, allied with Vickers was
another French bank — the Societe Generale.

The Putilov works had been heavily financed by Schneider with TUnion
Parisienne funds. But Putilov needed more funds. And to make matters
worse, Putilov was out of favor. Schneider, despairing of continuing
successfully to find an outlet for French arms through Putilov,
conceived the idea of building for Russia an entirely new plant in the
Urals. But Zaharoff was at work on the same idea, got the inside track,
and came off with an arrangement to build for Russia the huge arsenal of
Zarizyn at a cost of $12,500,000 — the largest in Russia. Besides that,
Zaharoff and certain English interests with whom he was working got
large contracts through the St. Petersburg Iron Works and the Franco-
Russian Company. With the Russian Shipbuilding Company he got contracts
to build two battleships, while Beardmore, Vickers' subsidiary, got a
dockyard and a cannon factory. This was a severe blow to Schneider. And
all the time that Zaharoff was working for this he had a paper in Paris,
Excelsior, which was pumping out propaganda continuously for more French
loans to Russia — French loans that Russia could spend with Vickers.

Schneider now turned his attention again to salvaging the Putilov works
and strengthening his hold upon it. He could get no more financing from
l'Union Parisienne, because it already had too much tied up in Putilov
and frozen in Balkan investments. He appealed in desperation to the
Societe Generale, which was secretly allied with Zaharoff and the
English, though a French bank. He was, of course, refused. Indeed the
Societe Generale took advantage of Schneider's embarrassment, doubtless
assisted by Zaharoff, to force Schneider out of Putilov altogether. It
became a fight between two French banks and a French munitions magnate
for Russian business. But at this point Mr. Schneider executed one of
those tactical movements we encounter in an Oppenheim international
mystery novel.

One day Paris read in the Echo de Paris a brief dispatch, datelined in
St. Petersburg. "There is a rumor," it reported, "that the Putilov
factories at St. Petersburg will be bought by Krupp. If this information
is well founded, it will cause great concern in France. It is known
indeed that Russia has adopted French types of guns and munitions for
her naval artillery and coast defenses. The greater part of the material
produced at this time by Putilov was made in collaboration with the
Creusot factories and the technical staff which the latter sent to the
spot."

Here was a provocative item packed away in this little paragraph.
Putilov made French guns from French plans. Krupp would get Putilov.
Into the German hands would fall all the French ordnance secrets. This
was the alarming message in that dispatch. Most disturbing of all,
France's great secret gun — her carefully guarded 7 5-millimeter — would
now come into the possession of Krupp's engineers. The little item
swelled rapidly to a press sensation. Krupp denied the story. Vickers,
also linked with the sale in some papers, denied it. France must not
suffer this disaster. Russia wanted a loan of $25,000,000 for railway
rehabilitation. The ministry appealed to patriotic Frenchmen to band
together to make the Russian loan and as a condition perpetuate
Schneider's hold on Putilov. The pressure was too great to withstand.
The loan was made. Schneider got his financing for Putilov. Even the
Societe Generate had to help Schneider.

It was some years before France learned that the whole dispatch incident
was a hoax. Mr. Albert Thomas, director of the International Labor
Office in Geneva, in 1921 made a speech there describing how French
industrialists boasted to him that they had forged the St. Petersburg
dispatch in the office of Echo one night at ten o'clock, and how they
had done it not because Putilov was threatened by Krupp but by another
French group. They did not hesitate, in this contest for control of a
Russian plant, to stir up public opinion against Germany, to set the old
chauvinist pot to boiling.

Zaharoff had failed in his maneuvers to drive the French out of Russia
altogether, but he captured for Vickers and other English arms makers
the largest share of Russia's munitions millions.

V.

Thus the arms makers drove Europe along up to 1914. The airplane had
arrived, and Vickers added airplane production to its growing interests.
In Paris M. Zaharoff endowed a chair of aviation at the Sorbonne.
Indeed, M. Zaharoff, for all his pains to elude the spotlight, found
that revealing beam playing upon him at intervals and to his
discomfiture. Who is this M. Zaharoff? What is he? To what country does
he owe allegiance? He was born in Turkey. He is a Greek. He is a French
citizen. He is an English businessman. But what country does he serve?
And what sort of game is he playing in France? These were not pleasant
questions for one who, indeed, had what Mr. Roosevelt calls a passion
for anonymity. Hence the endowed chair at the Sorbonne. And then a home
for French soldiers. His name appeared upon subscription lists for all
good French causes. And then the French ministry conferred upon him the
rosette of an officer of the Legion of Honor — a reward for the chair at
the Sorbonne.

Vickers grew, spread out — plants in Britain, Canada, Italy, Africa,
Greece, Turkey, Russia, New Zealand, Ireland, Holland; banks,
steelworks, cannon factories, dockyards, plane factories, subsidiaries
of all sorts; an arms empire. It had share capital larger than Krupp's
and had more extensive connections and possessions than Krupp's. And
this growth was chiefly the work of the French citizen of Greek blood
who, acting the role of ambassador- salesman, had planted the Vickers
standard all over the world, from Ireland to Japan and from the North
Sea to the Antipodes.

It was done with the aid of British-government backing and pressure, the
immense financial resources of British finance; by means of bribery and
chicanery, by the purchase of military and naval authorities and the
press wherever newspapers could be bought. It is a dark, sordid story of
ruthless money getting without regard for honor, morals, and either
national or humane considerations, while the Europe which they upset
with their conspiracies and terrorized with their war scares, and to
which they sold hatred as the indispensable condition of marketing guns,
slid along with the certainty of doom into the chasm of fire and death
in 1914.

On March 18, 1914, on the very brink of the coming disaster, Philip
Snowden, disease-wracked, crippled socialist labor leader rose in
Commons to make a speech. When he had done, he had rocked the British
Empire with his disclosures. For two years a young Quaker socialist
named Walton Newbold had been tracing with infinite pains the tortuous
trail of the international arms makers. And Philip Snowden had in his
possession the fruits of that long quest when he rose to speak. One by
one he pointed out cabinet ministers, members of the House, and named
high-ranking officials in army and navy circles, persons of royal
position, who were large holders of shares in Vickers and Armstrong, in
John Brown and Beardmore, shipbuilders.

The profits of Vickers and Armstrong had been enormous, and the most
powerful persons in the state and the church and the nobility had bought
into them to share in the profits. Vickers had among its directors two
dukes, two marquesses, and family members of fifty earls, fifteen
baronets, and five knights, twenty-one naval officers, two naval
government architects, and many journalists. Armstrong had even more —
sixty earls or their wives, fifteen baronets, twenty knights, and twenty
military or naval architects and officers, while there were thirteen
members of the House of Commons on the directorates of Vickers,
Armstrong, or John Brown. "It would be impossible," said Snowden, "to
throw a handful of pebbles anywhere upon the opposition benches without
hitting members interested in these arms firms."

Ministers, officers, technical experts moved out of the government, out
of the cabinet, the navy, the army, the war office, the admiralty, into
the employ of the munitions manufacturers.

Snowden quoted Lord Welby, head of the Civil Service, who only a few
weeks before had denounced the arms conspirators. "We are in the hands
of an organization of crooks," said Lord Welby. "They are politicians,
generals, manufacturers of armaments and journalists. All of them are
anxious for unlimited expenditure, and go on inventing scares to terrify
the public and to terrify the Ministers of the Crown."

Every business attracts to itself men who have the taste, talent, and
the morals suited to its special requirements. This armament world of
Europe was a behind-the-scenes world of intrigue, chicanery, hypocrisy,
and corruption. It involved a weird marriage between burning patriotism
and cold, ruthless realism. And the men who rose to leadership in it
were men who combined the vices of the spy, the bribe giver, the
corruptionist. They played with an explosive far more volatile and
dangerous than anything made in their laboratories — chauvinism — and
they did it with ruthless realism. There was, indeed, something
singularly brutal about their realism.

The trail of that vast armament effort between 1877 and 1914 is stained
by a record of bribery of admirals and generals, civil servants of all
degrees ranging from cabinet ministers to messengers. One German
armament maker said that "Krupp employs hundreds of officers on leave or
withdrawal at high salaries for doing nothing much at all. For some
families Krupp factories are a great sinecure where nephews and poor
relations of officials whose influence in war is great find themselves
jobs."

In 1913, a year before Snowden's exposures in the House of Commons, Dr.
Karl Liebknecht, socialist leader in the Reichstag, made a series of
grave charges against German armament leaders that resulted in the trial
and conviction of the secretary-superintendent of the Ministry of War,
four arsenal officials, and four lieutenants and others, including
Brandt, the Berlin agent of Krupp. A year later, about the time that
Snowden was shocking his colleagues in Parliament, Liebknecht again
brought a series of charges against the corruption of Japanese officials
by Siemens-Schuckert, another German arms concern. This led to the
scandal unearthed by the Japanese Diet and showing that M. Zaharoff's
firm of Vickers, along with the Mitsui Bussan Kaisha, had paid out
$565,000 in bribes to Japanese officials to clinch the contract for the
building of the battleship Kongo. Of course no espionage could follow
the numerous and devious trails of the arms makers. It is strange that
even so much of their corruption came to light. But what was exposed can
be taken as no more than samples of the manner in which their business
was conducted.

The whole excuse of this industry was national defense. Yet these
enterprises were as busy supplying the armies of their enemies as the
armies of their own countries. Up to the time of Alfred Krupp's death in
1887 he had made 24,576 cannon of which only 10,666, or less than half,
were sold to the fatherland for national defense. The rest went to
Germany's enemies and neighbors. Some of them — Austria and China — were
supposed to be her allies. But Austria's Krupp cannons sent death
through German ranks in the Austro- Prussian War, and when, in the Boxer
rebellion, a German warship attacked a Chinese fort, the cannons Krupp
sold to Li Hung Chang dealt death and destruction to German sailors.
When Italy and Turkey fought in 1911 Turkey used a fleet largely
supplied by Italy. And when Italy and Germany fought in the World War,
Italy had a fleet of seventeen vessels built in German shipyards.
Zaharoff had got from Turkey contracts for two dreadnaughts and a fleet
of destroyers to patrol the Dardanelles, which were conveniently on hand
when the British soldiers were landed in 1915 to attempt to carry that
stronghold. Earlier still, British Tommies in South Africa were mowed
down by Maxim's quick-firing cannon — the pom-poms — which Zaharoff for
Vickers had sold to the Boers. The story is an endless one. It includes
even the sinking of the Lusitania, which played so large a part in
bringing America into the war. For this was the feat of a German
submarine built upon plans supplied before the war to Austria by the
Electric Boat Company, American submarine builders.

VI.

The fame of Krupp — the part he, Alfred, and his son Fritz played in the
development of the junker regime in Germany — gives to the name Krupp a
kind of premiership among the Merchants of Death. And while Krupp never
attained the size and expansion of the Vickers firm that Zaharoff built,
and particularly of the Vickers- Armstrong firm, when these two were
combined after the war, yet a special notice ought to be taken here of
this vast German arms machine. Old Alfred Krupp, high-handed,
overbearing, ruthless pursuer of wealth, died in 1887. The little steel
plant at Essen had only about thirty employees when he began work in it.
When Zaharoff entered the arms industry in Greece it had grown to a
great enterprise employing over 16,000 men. Old Alfred went to his death
a wretched, isolated misanthrope. He left as his heir his son Fritz,
thirty-three, delicate, shy, sensitive, unpromising, who had filled
various posts in the business since he was twenty in preparation for his
destiny.

Fritz Krupp immediately embarked upon a policy of expansion, making
armor plate, buying up shipyards at Kiel to be ready for the era of
naval expansion that the youthful von Tirpitz was even then brewing.

Bismarck was let out, the last brake upon unrestrained militarism was
removed, young Kaiser Wilhelm became a close friend and frequent visitor
and hunting companion of Fritz Krupp. Von Tirpitz was made Secretary of
the Admiralty, the first naval act was passed to spend 150 million marks
on ships, and Krupp got the lion's share. The German Navy League was
called into being. With the aid of large subsidies from Krupp and Stumm
and other arms patriots, it unloosed upon the German people a flood of
highpowered patriotic propaganda, backed by the Kaiser. The junker age
was now in full career. Wilhelm ordered that half of all armament
contracts be awarded to Krupp and the rest divided among the other
German munitioneers. Germany kept her arms contracts at home. Krupp's
mills, shipyards, and docks became indispensable to Germany, not only
for war purposes but for peace. It was a vast industry that employed
many men and provided still more employment among all the raw-material
industries upon which it drew. When the Hague conference was discussed
in Germany, looking toward disarmament, the militarist ministers asked
what would become of Krupp's business if Germany disarmed. They put that
in writing, and the Kaiser wrote upon the memorandum the question, "How
will Krupp pay his men?" Armament had become a cornerstone of the German
internal economic policy.

Fritz Krupp grew ever richer, worth 119 million marks in 1895, 187
million marks when he died in 1902. He had an income of seven million
marks in 1895 and twenty-one million in 1902. He had put aside the
severe manner of life of the crusty old Alfred. He had become an
industrial monarch. He dwelt in three great German castles — Hugel on
the Ruhr, Sayneck in the Rhine Valley, and Meineck in Baden-Baden — and
was a member of the Prussian State Council, of the federal House of
Lords, a Privy Councilor, surrounded by flatterers and parasites.

He was destined to a melancholy end. A man of strange tastes and
mystifying behavior, he kept his wife in an insane asylum and acquired a
place at Capri, the Hermitage of Fra Felicia, which he called the Holy
Grotto. He had attendants clad in the gowns of Franciscan monks. He
formed an "order" — an association of men, the members of which had keys
to the Holy Grotto. There gargantuan feasts were spread. There the
Cannon King II held wassail until the dawn sometimes — orgies, these
feasts were called by the islanders. Presently Neapolitan papers printed
stories about them. One German paper, the Vorwdrts, retold the tales,
more than insinuating that this was a homosexual "abbey." Fritz Krupp
sued the Vorwdrts. Socialist deputies flew to the charge, the episode
became a national scandal in which the Kaiser felt called upon to intervene.

Then on the night of November 21, 1902, when the prosecution of the
Vorworts was being prepared, Fritz Krupp died alone in his bedroom.
Whether he died of a stroke or killed himself remained a subject of
violent controversy in Germany for many years. Certainly, contradictory
reports about his manner of death were issued. The Kaiser went to Essen
and walked on foot behind the corpse to silence scandal. The prosecution
of the Vorwdrts was dropped. And the widow, until Fritz' death held as
an unbalanced person, assumed command of the vast enterprises and
administered them for a while with drive and vigor.

VII.

When the war broke over Europe the moment of paradise for the arms
makers was at hand. At first glance it may appear singular that the
activities of Zaharoff during the war remain so obscure. But if ever
there was a time when Europe needed no munitions salesmen it was after
1914. The salesman's work was done. The war — modern war, the greatest,
most insatiable customer of the munitioneers — had come into the market.
Generals and admirals clamored for more and ever more arms and
explosives. The work of the salesmen of death was over, for the moment,
anyway. Therefore Zaharoff's industry did not need his peculiar abilities.

But the moment came when Britain and France desired Greece as an active
ally in the war. This was when England launched her attack upon the
Dardanelles. The Greek government was divided. The pan-Hellenic
Venizelos, his majority in the chamber, and the National Council favored
joining the Allies. Constantine, King, brother-in-law of the Kaiser,
pro-German, favored neutrality. He was popular in Greece because of the
recent Balkan victories. The King dismissed Venizelos. In June the
voters returned Venizelos to power. The chief objective of the Allies at
the moment was to keep Bulgaria out of the war, hence the threat of
Greek participation on the Allied side. Bulgaria mobilized in September,
1915. Venizelos ordered a countermobilization. The King permitted it
until he heard that Venizelos proposed to go to the aid of Serbia. Then
he dismissed the Premier again.

At this juncture Zaharoff's offices were enlisted. When Venizelos was
dismissed, Constantine named Skouloudis, Zaharoff's old friend and
benefactor, as Premier. Perhaps this may have accounted for Zaharoff's
interest. Perhaps he would be able to work the miracle with Skouloudis.
But there was another reason. The Greek problem now literally assumed
the form of a conspiracy to dethrone the King and drive him out of
Athens. This was a business into which France and England could not very
well enter officially. They dared not supply funds for the purpose.
After all, Greece was neutral and on terms of friendly intercourse with
France. Briand, therefore, drew away from having any direct part in
managing or financing a plan to upset the monarchy in Greece. But
Zaharoff, a private citizen, could do this, particularly if he supplied
his own money. Just before Christmas, 1915, therefore, Zaharoff had a
conference with Briand and agreed to assume the job of bringing Greece
in on the side of the Allies or of ousting Constantine. Briand notified
Venizelos of this good fortune. And Zaharoff set about his task.

Just how much he did personally, what steps he actually originated, and
what pressures he organized and directed are not known. The money for
the campaign is supposed to have been supplied by him and it is also
reported to have run into many millions. Whether it was furnished by him
or Vickers or various other interests is also not known. The propaganda
in Greece, handled by a French naval attache, had been execrable. He was
relieved of his clumsy performances, and an instrument called the Agence
Radio was set up to go to work upon the Grecian mind. It resorted to all
the familiar devices of international propaganda. It subsidized
newspapers, bribed editors, issued pamphlets, financed meetings, and
generally managed all the standard techniques of underground activity.
For one thing it played heavily upon Allied successes. In Europe every
small country wanted to be on the winning side. And Zaharoff's Agence
Radio pumped up such endless whoppers about French and English victories
that the Russian minister in Athens protested that it was absurd.

Zaharoff, if he tried to do anything with his old friend Skouloudis,
failed, for the Premier stuck to the King and worked incessantly for
neutrality. But Constantine was growing weaker and Venizelos stronger.
Finally, when the time was ripe, Venizelos went to Salonika, where the
Allies had landed, and organized a revolutionary government which
resulted in the abdication of Constantine in June, 1917. Greece joined
the Allies and the following year threw 2 50,000 men into the great
Macedonian offensive that forced the surrender of Bulgaria.

This was an important service, for the defeat of Bulgaria, with which
Greece's participation had much to do, was the first great crack in the
enemy front. Zaharoff was busy in other directions. He endowed a chair
of aviation at the University of St. Petersburg and made $125,000
available in England for the study of aviation problems. He subscribed
200,000 francs for a war hospital at Biarritz. Mr. Lewinsohn, his most
industrious biographer, credits him, upon the authority of the Paris
Temps, with contributing not less than 50 million francs (about
$10,000,000 at prewar value) to the cause of England and France during
the war.

But Zaharoff was not done with Greece. The armistice did not end the
dreams of that relentless Cretan patriot, Venizelos, for the realization
of his pan-Hellenic dreams. Zaharoff met Venizelos for the first time in
1918. And at Zaharoff's villa the two Greeks planned great gains for
Greece out of the victory about to be won. The story, much
oversimplified, runs about as follows. Zaharoff, Greek to the core
despite his many other national encrustations, proposed to finance
Venizelos in the realization of his dreams of expansion in Asia Minor.
In May, 1919, Venizelos won from the allied statesmen their consent to
occupy Smyrna. In August, 1920, the Treaty of Sevres gave to Greece
Smyrna, its hinterland and a large territory in Asia Minor. With
Zaharoff's funds Venizelos began to occupy these territories. Lloyd
George, British premier, supported Venizelos completely in these adventures.

But quickly a series of misfortunes overtook the great Greek statesman.
First, France lost interest in her Greek ally. Then unrest spread
rapidly through Greece against Venizelos. The reprehensible behavior of
his subordinates in Athens, while he worked with the powers in Paris,
produced profound dissatisfaction, which the agents of the absent
Constantine skillfully exploited. However, Constantine's son, Alexander,
was King and Venizelos seemed secure with him. Then suddenly, young
Alexander, bitten by a monkey, died of the infection, and the whole
Greek political situation was thrown into chaos. Venizelos, absent so
much at the Paris conferences, had lost control and in an election
forced in November, 1920, his ministry was defeated. Within a month
Constantine returned to power, Venizelos was an exile, and Zaharoff s
plans were in the fire.

But the end was not yet. Constantine pressed on with Venizelos'
grandiose plans, launched an ambitious Greek offensive in July, 1921,
suffered a decisive defeat at Sakaria, and in September was driven from
Smyrna by a revamped and refurbished Turkish army under Kemal Pasha,
which burned that hapless city to the ground in one of the great
disasters of history. Constantine was forced again to retire. By this
time Lloyd George was being bitterly assailed in England for accepting
the advice of Zaharoff, and, in the end, the ministry of Lloyd George
was wrecked upon the rock of the Grecian debacle. Zaharoff, we are
assured, lost an immense slice of his fortune in this daring and
ambitious design to create a great Hellenic empire in Asia Minor.

But this scarcely tells the whole story. Lord Beaverbrook had said that
"the destinies of nations are Zaharoff's sport." It was not all sport.
It was the kind of sport — gamble is the better word — in which the wily
old schemer played for high stakes. As early as 1918 Zaharoff began to
plan for certain undisclosed adventures. While the armies of the world
strained on to the last scene of the war, Zaharoff laid plans for the
coming peace. He bought a bank in Paris — the Banque Mayer Freres —
renamed it the Banque de la Seine, reorganized it, capitalized it at 12
million francs, and very quickly increased this to 30 million. This was
about the time he met Venizelos and concocted with him the Grecian program.

Later, in 1920, the Greeks had occupied Smyrna and the Allies were in
possession of Constantinople. At that time, as the Greeks prepared for
their offensive in Asia Minor, he founded a new bank in Constantinople —
the Banque Commerciale de la Mediterranee. Had not Beaverbrook said, "In
the wake of war this mysterious figure moves over tortured Europe." This
bank was capitalized at 30 million francs, its ownership resting in the
Banque de la Seine. It set up for business in the quarters of the
Deutsche Orientbank. Next he organized the Societe Frangaise des Docks
et Ateliers de Constructions Navales and planned to take over the docks
of the Societe Ottoman. For whom? All these companies were French in
name at least — there was no smell of the hated Briton anywhere. But
this would have given Zaharoff control of the most important naval docks
in Turkey. Could it be for Vickers? For whom else? But the Turks refused
to let M. Zaharoff have these valuable properties. And when this
occurred did not the British government demand that Kemal Pasha turn
them over to Vickers and Armstrong?

There was something more than Greek patriotism in Zaharoff's league with
Venizelos. Beaverbrook said: "The movement of armies and the affairs of
governments are his special delight." He had inspired the movements of
the Greek armies. He had insinuated himself as the adviser of Lloyd
George in Asia Minor. The British Prime Minister had made Zaharoff's
plans part of his policy. Zaharoff had spent, it was said, four million
pounds — $20,000,000 — on the Greek campaign. But there is really no
evidence of this. So far as I can find, the statement rests upon a
single question, by a member of the British Commons, Mr. Aubrey Herbert
in 1921, during an interpolation — a question which Mr. Bonar Law
parried. How much Zaharoff spent and whether it was his money or that of
the English armament firms under his leadership, who were using the
disturbed state of eastern Europe to get possession of valuable
properties there, remain completely unriddled. Their plans did not turn
out well. The collapse of what is called M. Zaharoff's personal war with
Turkey — the Greco-Turkish War of 1920-22 — the disastrous defeat of the
Greeks, the awful tragedy of Smyrna, and the execution of most of the
Greek cabinet ruined all Zaharoff's plans and brought him the loss of
millions.

But long before the disaster the name of Zaharoff was being whispered
around the clubs in London as the author of Lloyd George's highly
unpopular policy in Greece and Turkey. Mr. Walter Guinness attacked the
Prime Minister in the House on this score in August, 1920, when the
Turks started their vigorous counterattack. The next year Lloyd George
was again assailed in Commons with greater effect by Mr. Aubrey Herbert.
And when the great catastrophe at Smyrna shocked Europe, Lloyd George
found himself at the end of his rope and resigned.

These Turkish enterprises were not the only fields into which Zaharoff's
Banque de la Seine ventured. Very quietly, without fuss or trumpets, the
Banque de la Seine became the owner of a company called the Societe
Navale del'Ouest — a shipping company equipped to transport oil. Then
another company appeared — the Societe Generale des Huiles de Petrole.
Fifty-five per cent of its stock belonged to the Societe Navale de
l'Ouest, the Banque de la Seine, and Zaharoff, and forty-five per cent
to the British government-owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company. This Societe
Generale was no small affair. Its capital in 1922 came to 227 million
francs. It took over or formed other corporations with refineries, so
that by 1922 Zaharoff had organized in France a British-owned integrated
oil industry.

These projects were typical of the Zaharoff technique. In both cases he
was acting as a Frenchman, a citizen of France, organizing what seemed
to be French companies — one group to exploit the armament possibilities
of Turkey and Greece for Vickers, the other group to exploit French
territory for the Anglo-Persian oil interests of the British government.
Always a large part of the working machinery and certainly the meaning
of Zaharoff projects were underground. He was the mysterious
entrepreneur, the schemer moving in the dark, playing with
behind-the-door intrigues, twisting silently along tortuous routes for
undisclosed agents. Various writers have woven different surmises out of
all these performances. But unfortunately most of the factors in the
problem of Zaharoff's designs remain unknown. The most that can be said
with assurance of certainty is that he, accepted as a citizen of France,
honored by the ministry, and enjoying the confidence of her most
powerful ministers, used France — as indeed he had always done — as a
base for managing an English trade offensive, trade in arms and in oil
in France and the Near East, in direct conflict at many points with the
French government's own objectives. He is credited with immense losses
in the fatal Greco-Turkish War. Doubtless he lost heavily, but doubtless
also, his losses were shared by his colleagues in Vickers.

He is also credited with being able to offset these losses with his new
profitable oil investments. What these investments were worth to him
must also remain a mystery. In the end his Banque de la Seine fell upon
troubled days and he let it go. After a brief effort to adjust it to the
new conditions, he saw, doubtless with complacence, others take it over.
It is an extraordinary feature of these Grecian and Turkish and
Anglo-Persian oil transactions that, though they form part of the
history of the period that has been raked over by historians, and though
Zaharoff beyond doubt was the field marshal directing them in France,
his personal movements throughout remain in complete obscurity. No major
figure has succeeded so completely in cloaking his movements as this
master-intriguer.

VIII.

Zaharoff suffered losses, staggering ones. Seemingly the war had brought
a magnificent harvest for the war profiteers. In America firms like
Calumet and Hecla Copper had had, at the peak, as much as 800 per cent
profit on their capital stock. In the two years of 1916 and 1917 the
United States Steel Corporation showed a profit of $1,100,000,000. The
Bethlehem Steel Company averaged profits of $48,000,000 a year during
the four years of the war. In the year before the war Vickers had a
profit of roughly $5,000,000.

During the war, of course, it drove forward in a hot frenzy of
production. It delivered to the armies and navies 100,000 machine guns,
2528 naval and field guns, thousands of tons of armor plate, built four
battleships, three armored cruisers, fifty-three submarines, three
subsidiary vessels, and sixty-two smaller boats. Under a British act its
earnings could not exceed by more than twenty per cent the average of
the two years preceding the war. But its capital was greater and its
production was greater and earnings were calculated proportionately on
production.

A day came, however, when all those thousands of guns that Vickers and
Armstrong and Krupp and the rest had made for the warmakers went
terribly silent. The greatest disaster of all had fallen upon the arms
makers — the disaster of peace. As one writer has put it, Krupp's
immense tangle of machines in Essen "stopped with an audible jerk."
Suddenly there was nothing for the 165,000 employees of Essen to do. It
was the same in Sheffield. It took the men who ruled these great mills a
little time to realize what had happened to them. The great expansion of
plant during the war was now no longer needed. And, for that matter, the
expansion that preceded the war was, for the moment, excessive.

But apparently Vickers believed it could survive. How far Zaharoff's
counsels ruled in this error no one has told. He was the driving spirit
of expansion always. He was directing in France the extension of
operations into the Near East. He went to Rumania to bargain with the
government. Representing Vickers, he offered a loan of three million
pounds to save Rumania from a currency collapse, asking in return a
mortgage upon the Rumanian railroad revenues. This has a bearing upon
his attitude toward the expansionist policy of Vickers after the war. A
new arms concern was started in Poland in combination with Schneider, a
shipyard was built on the Baltic, munitions factories were taken over in
Rumania, the British Westinghouse Company was absorbed, the company went
into the production of railroad equipment. It actually increased its
investment in new plants by $85,000,000.

Doubtless they believed there was life in the old militarist carcass
yet. There were the new nations just formed which had to have weapons.
Then their greatest competitor was literally wiped out. Krupp was
required by the Allies to destroy 801,000 tools and appliances, 157,000
cubic yards of concrete and earthworks, 9300 machines of all sorts, 379
installations, and 159 experimental guns, and was forbidden to
manufacture arms. Krupp became a huge warehouse and miscellaneous
fabricator of all sorts of things. And so Vickers and doubtless Zaharoff
believed there would be plenty of orders again when the world settled
down to its routine of business, diplomacy, intrigue, treaty violations,
ancient hatreds and new ones again. And they were right. But it would
not come in time. For the time being the game was up.

Vickers went from loss to loss and from crisis to crisis. A committee
had to be named to look into its affairs. The report was a dark one. It
called for drastic reorganization, shrinkage, liquidation of stock. The
alternative was bankruptcy. The reorganization was effected. Two thirds
of the stock was wiped out. Douglas Vickers was eliminated. Sir Herbert
Lawrence became its head. Zaharoff, sustaining a huge stock loss,
doubtless slid quietly out of any important place in the control
thereafter. This was in 1925. A little after this, Armstrong was in even
worse trouble. It suffered reorganization which ended in a combination
with Vickers, and Vickers took the lion's share. The firm became
Vickers-Armstrong. This was in 1927, just fifty years after Basil
Zaharoff in Athens had become a five-pound-a-week salesman for
Nordenfeldt, later to be merged with Vickers. And so Vickers' directors
met and presented to Sir Basil Zaharoff a cup on the completion of his
half century of service with the firm and "as a mark of their great
appreciation of the valuable work he has done for them and of their
sincere gratitude and concern."

IX.

The frowns of Sir Basil's war god, however, did not leave him destitute.
He had lost a few hundred million francs. But there were BASIL ZAHAROFF
369 many millions left. What he had lost, of course, was his place at
the center in the great game of moving armies, gambling statesmen,
scheming gun peddlers. He lived in his mansion in the Rue Hoche in Paris
for some months each year, then in his Chateau Balincourt on the Riviera
and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo in the severe winter months. He
had been an old patron of the beautiful Blue Coast. The Casino in Monte
Carlo, after the war, was in trouble. Its old owner, Camille Blanc,
somehow had lost touch with the changed world, particularly the changed
world of money. The Prince of Monaco, in whose domain the great Casino
nestled, wanted to get rid of Blanc, to bring in a business management
of the institution that supplied him with his revenue and his small
principality with its support. He approached Zaharoff and, for some
reason, the aging munitioneer was interested. He got hold of the shares
and, with the aid of the Prince, shouldered Blanc out of the place and
became its master. The Casino was a natural moneymaker. It called not
for any special magic but merely for money and a thorough business
administration. This Zaharoff supplied. He did not manage it himself. He
put in his own men. And it paid him golden dividends.

It was not altogether an unbecoming spot to end his strange career —
this singular little nation of twenty thousand souls, living on a rock
in the Mediterranean, a Prince ruling the tiny entity with his little
army of a hundred and twenty men, a single business enterprise, the
Casino, paying all the bills, supporting most of the population. There
they ruled, two old nabobs — one the civil despot, the other the
economic despot, owning the economic fountain out of which all the taxes
and wages of the place came; the Prince of Monaco and Sir Basil
Zaharoff, twin rulers in a comic-opera state that lived by gambling.
Zaharoff's wise administration brought him rich profits, and when he had
made enough and was weary of the business — and perhaps of all business
— he sold out at a great profit.

Meantime on September 22, 1924, in the little village of Arronville
outside Paris, he and the Duchess of Villafranca, who had been his
unwedded consort for nearly forty years, were married. And then eighteen
months later, in 1926, his new wife, his affinity of forty years, died
at Balincourt. And this was the end of Zaharoff. The tedious business of
straightening out the affairs of Vickers had to be got through with.
This was done the next year.

After that Sir Basil Zaharoff continued to grow older, but did not die
until 1936. There came a time when he grew feeble and had to be wheeled
around Nice and Monte Carlo in a chair. What does such a man think,
sitting feebly in a chair, pushed around like an infant, as he surveys
the days of his power when he strode the earth like a titan, had his
hand on the wires in the ministries of Europe, and felt a hundred hills
shake in the roar of his cannon. Zaharoff's world was done, at least for
the time being. The armament makers had proved, beyond all peradventure
of doubt, the futility of their weapons and the folly of the regimes
upon which they flourished. Their whole crazy world had come down in
fragments around their ears. But then, after a brief interval of remorse
and penitence, as the old gun man grew grayer and feebler, the dark
industry he had helped to build got back its wind and its energy and
grew bigger and mightier than ever. In the year that he died, the gun
mills were grinding faster and more furiously than they were in 1913,
the nations that had slaughtered each other with the guns of Zaharoff
and company were preparing to repeat the crime with other and deadlier
weapons.

The munitions industry, of course, was and is nothing more than another
way of making money. Its techniques differ only in that its direct
customers are governments and its sales practices are adapted to that
necessity. Its dark sins have been in the region of selling. But even in
this, it has resembled many of those other industries that must find
their clients among public officials. It used bribery of officers,
penetration of cabinets and bureaus, intimacy with the powerful. All
these weapons Zaharoff knew how to employ with consummate skill. We find
him on terms of intimate collaboration at one time or another with the
most powerful men in the state — with Clemenceau in France and Lloyd
George in Britain, with Briand, foreign minister, and, of course, with
war and navy ministers everywhere, with Venizelos in Greece and his
opponent Skouloudis, with Bratianu in Rumania, where also we find him
entertained by the Queen, who actually intercedes with him to assist the
tottering throne of Greece upon which her daughter sits as consort. Such
a man as Lord Sandhurst, Undersecretary of State for War in England, is
trustee for Vickers bonds, and Arthur Balfour is trustee for the bonds
of Vickers7 affiliate, Beardmore. In Paris, Zaharoff is a director of
the Bank of France.

It is this side of the munitions business that brings it into disfavor.
For it is not content to corrupt officials as public contractors do, but
mixes up in state policy to create disturbance. It flourishes only in a
world where hatreds and controversies, dynastic and economic and racial
and religious differences between peoples flourish. Hence it has spared
no pains to keep these mortal quarrels alive, to alarm peoples and
ministers with war scares, to breed suspicion and distrust. First among
all the practitioners of this dark art was Zaharoff. There is little
doubt that he loved the game. He was the troublemaker feeding upon
trouble — the neighborhood provocateur raised to the dubious dignity of
free-lance statesman. Beaverbrook was right — "The destinies of nations
were his sport; the movement of armies and the affairs of government his
special delight. In the wake of war this mysterious figure moved over
tortured Europe."
$30

He cared nothing for acclaim, apparently, or if he did he realized it
did not run well with his business. He did not advertise himself with
magnificence like Morgan or Krupp; he did not go in for pageantry like
William H. Vanderbilt or Fugger. He hired no shirt stuffers to blow up
his fame like the Rothschilds and Rockefeller. But he did find it
necessary to establish credentials of respectability and power. The name
Zaharoff was passed around coated with odium in more than one critical
period. And so he contrived at the proper moments to have put upon him
the hallmark of governments. In 1908 he was made a Knight of the Legion
of Honor in France. In 1913 he was promoted to be an Officer of the
Legion of Honor, having endowed a chair of aviation at the Sorbonne. The
next year, at the very hour when Paris police were thrown about his
house to guard him against the possible anger of the radical groups
because of the assassination of Jaures and when his lifework was about
to flower into the most murderous of all wars, he was raised to be a
Commander of the Legion of Honor. Then in 1918, before the war ended,
and doubtless to advance the ill-starred campaign he was organizing in
Asia Minor, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the British
Empire and became a Knight of the Bath — Sir Basil Zaharoff. A little
later France again elevated him to the dignity of Grand Officer of the
Legion. She was not done with her eminent citizen. In 1919 he was given
the Grand Cross of the Legion, the highest decoration the republic had
to offer. Thus, two crosses gleamed upon his breast — the cross of
Britain and the cross of France — and, incidentally, the cross of
Christ, the Prince of Peace, upon the bosom of this angel of war and blood.
RVG
2008-11-29 14:44:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by abourick
The Merchant of Death: Basil Zaharoff
Ceci est un forum francophone.
Zaharoff a inspiré à Hergé le personnage de Basile Bazaroff dans
"L'Oreille Cassée".
Et il a sûrement inspiré les Bloch-Dassault père et fils dans leur
activité la plus lucrative.
abourick
2008-11-29 16:14:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by RVG
Post by abourick
The Merchant of Death: Basil Zaharoff
Ceci est un forum francophone.
Zaharoff a inspiré à Hergé le personnage de Basile Bazaroff dans
"L'Oreille Cassée".
Et il a sûrement inspiré les Bloch-Dassault père et fils dans leur
activité la plus lucrative.
Ah non, Dassault a inspiré Carreidas dans vol sept cent machinchouette
pour Sydney. Par contre Basil Zaharoff l'orthoxiste greco-russe a
inspiré l'état soviétique puis national-communiste russe dans son trafic
d'armes planétaire.
quintal
2008-11-29 18:15:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by RVG
Post by abourick
The Merchant of Death: Basil Zaharoff
Ceci est un forum francophone.
vous ne maitrisez pas l'anglais?
vous comptez garder la langue des échanges internationaux hors de votre
pré carré?
c'est l'internet, faut vous y faire.
Post by RVG
Zaharoff a inspiré à Hergé le personnage de Basile Bazaroff dans
"L'Oreille Cassée".
Et il a sûrement inspiré les Bloch-Dassault père et fils dans leur
activité la plus lucrative.
--
blog:
http://quintaldo.wordpress.com/
files site:
http://www.divshare.com/download/5059726-d25
RVG
2008-11-29 18:26:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by quintal
Post by RVG
Post by abourick
The Merchant of Death: Basil Zaharoff
Ceci est un forum francophone.
vous ne maitrisez pas l'anglais?
vous comptez garder la langue des échanges internationaux hors de votre
pré carré?
c'est l'internet, faut vous y faire.
Merci du conseil, euh... bub ?
--
"My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized
agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about
everything."
Robert Anton Wilson
quintal
2008-11-29 18:13:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by abourick
Grec orthodoxe par son ethnie, turc par sa nationalité d'origine, russe
par le nom qu'il s'est choisi, sa mentalité et ses intérêts économiques
et sa confession....?
la réelle, pas celle pour la galerie...

"As stated, Vickers was founded and financed by Sir Ernest Cassel,
friend and associate of Mr. Schiff, and another Jew, Sir Basil Zaharoff,
was prominent in it through the war."

c'est con hein... tellement prévisible.

http://www.the7thfire.com/new_world_order/zionism/a_short_history_of_the
_jews.htm
http://preview.tinyurl.com/5wnukp
Post by abourick
voici la sordide histoire de l'un des plus grands criminels des XIXe et
XXe siècle, le marchant de canon et faiseur de guerre Basil Zaharoff.
http://mises.org/story/2687
The Merchant of Death: Basil Zaharoff
Zacharias Basileios Zacharias ? later to be known as Basil Zaharoff ?
was born October 6, 1849, apparently in Mugla, near the Turkish capital
of Angora. His people were Greeks who had lived in Constantinople, fled
to Odessa during the Turkish persecutions in 1821, returned to Mugla,
and then, when Basileios was three years old, took up their home again
in the Tatavla or poor district of Constantinople. The boy went to
school until he was sixteen, when some disaster to his father forced him
to go to work. He worked, we are told, as a fireman, a guide, a
moneychanger. There is more than a hint that these early years were
passed amid rough surroundings and that this impulsive and somewhat
lawless boy ? like one of our prominent labor racketeers, to use his own
explanation of his twisted ethics ? suffered from lack of "bringing-up."
When he was twenty-one he found work with an uncle in Constantinople who
had some sort of mercantile business. One day Basileios disappeared,
taking with him money from the cash drawer. The infuriated uncle traced
him to London where he was arrested. How or why he was arrested in
London for a crime committed in Turkey is not made clear. It was perhaps
a stage in the process of extradition. In any event Zaharoff pleaded
that he was a partner, not an employee, of his uncle, producing a paper
attesting that fact ? a paper he had miraculously discovered in his
trouser pocket on his way to the courthouse ? and was let off. This
episode is by no means clear. But what there is of it reveals the more
or less dark cloud in which he began his career.
As in all things relating to Zaharoff, there are other versions of this
flight. Robert Neumann, who spent some time investigating the story, but
unfortunately envelopes all that he writes in a cloud of luminous smoky
words, insists that it was not money, but goods that Zaharoff stole and
not from an uncle but from a Mr. Hiphentides; and, having converted the
merchandise into money, fled to London where he was arrested on the
complaint of Mr. Hiphentides, after which he was not acquitted but let
off with a reprimand on his promise to make amends.
Zaharoff, after this narrow escape, went to Greece, Turkey being "no
thoroughfare" to him. In Athens he made his Basileios Zacharias into
Basil Zaharoff. He remained in Athens from 1873 to 1877, living by odd
jobs of all sorts. Somehow stories of Zaharoff's unsavory past leaked
out in Athens. The atmosphere chilled for him among the youthful
compatriots with whom he fraternized. Apparently Athens became too
unpleasant, and the harassed youth moved on. A singular piece of good
fortune overtook him at this point. Shortly after his disappearance a
brief newspaper story told how a prisoner, Basileios Zaharoff, in an
attempt to escape from the old prison of Garbola in Athens, had been
shot and killed by a sentry. Zaharoff had made one friend in Athens ?
Stephen Skouloudis, later the compliant premier of King Constantine in
his attempt to put Greece on the side of Germany, and then well on his
way to riches. He had taken a fancy to Zaharoff and he was shocked at
this story of his death.
Skouloudis went to Garbola, got a description of the prisoner who had
been killed, had the body exhumed, and satisfied himself that it was not
his maligned young friend. He traced the incident farther and learned
that the shameful calumny had been printed by a reporter who hated
Zaharoff. Having fled to England once more ? this time to Manchester ?
Zaharoff returned to Athens as soon as he heard of Skouloudis'
vindication of him to take advantage of the sympathy created for him by
this shocking injustice. This seemingly happened in 1877. He needed work
and Skouloudis added another claim upon his gratitude by recommending
him to the representative of a Swedish gun maker, who was leaving Greece
and looking for a successor. Zaharoff got that job, rushed in a frenzy
of gratitude to Skouloudis' home, fell upon his knees, covered his hands
with kisses and tears, and swore eternal friendship. Thus the first
phase of the career of this young Monte Cristo ended. Strangely, one
does not hear of further contact with Skoulbudis until 1915, when
Skouloudis was made Prime Minister of King Constantine and Zaharoff was
the brains and moneybag behind the conspiracy of France and Britain to
dethrone Constantine and bring the Greeks in on the side of the Allies.
III.
Zaharoff ? twenty-eight years old ? was now in the munitions industry in
which he spent the remainder of his eventful life. Torsten Vilhelm
Nordenfeldt, a small Swedish manufacturer, commissioned Zaharoff as his
agent for the whole Balkan territory at a salary of five pounds a week,
later augmented by commissions. It was a small beginning, but in a most
opportune time. The whole face of the munitions industry was changing ?
due to the pressure of inventors, politicians, and merchants.
There was, of course, nothing new about the arms industry. It was not
invented before the World War or by the German junkers. It is a
business, like any other. Man, in his discussions with other men about
questions of religion, statecraft, geography, trade, has always reached
a point in the discussion where it has seemed wise to reply to his
opponent by disemboweling him or knocking his brains out. The demand for
instruments of discussion of this type, from the day of the leathern
armor and the flint spear, has always, quite naturally, inspired thrifty
entrepreneurs to provide them for profit. It is a business like law or
prostitution or hanging or banking or making shoes. Before the conqueror
can lift his sword the armorer must make one for him in his forge.
Before armies can march there must be men ? thousands, hundreds of
thousands of them ? who will make guns and cannon and tanks and trucks
and uniforms and shoes and food. It is a business and must be run as
such. It must have a producing department and a finance department and a
sales department. And as it is the function of the production department
to develop and produce better and deadlier means of slaughter, it is the
function of the sales department to find buyers, nay more, to stimulate
consumer demand.
And so behind every great warrior and war has loomed the figure of the
sutler, perhaps just a poor peddler following the troops with rum, or
some magnificent gentleman in his countinghouse doing business not with
the private in the field, but with the chief of staff in his bureau.
Behind Pericles was the shield maker Cleon. Behind Caesar was the banker
Crassus and the war contractors of Rome. Behind Maximilian was Jacob
Fugger and his rich copper mines in the Tirol. Behind Jeanne d'Arc was
Jacques Coeur, who, like a true patriot, supplied the Maid with arms and
funds, and, like a true munitioneer, sold arms, against the law of God
Himself, to the infidel and was stripped of his wealth and clothed in
sackcloth and made to murmur on his knees that he "had wickedly sent
armor and arms to the Sultan, enemy of the Christian faith and of the
King." Cromwell had to have his army provisioned the pious Thomas
Papillon. Behind Louis XIV was Sam Bernard the banker and the Brothers
Paris de Montmartel; behind Napoleon stood Ouvrard.
It is a strange business, indeed a little weird. Like any other business
it calls for a special kind of man with a special kind of talent and a
special kind of ethics. It is, indeed, in the words of an American agent
of a large submarine manufacturer, "a hell of a business, where you have
always to be hoping for trouble in order to prosper."
I do not pretend to fathom the depths of its ethics. Let someone
unriddle for me this human enigma: M. de Wendel, Frenchman, built a
great blast furnace in Briey. Briey lies on the German frontier; on the
other side, in Germany, is Thionville with its huge German blast
furnaces. There they are on either side of the frontier ? Briey in
France, Thionville in Germany. Briey belongs to M. de Wendel; Thionville
to the Germans. The Great War begins. The French do not attack
Thionville; they do not defend Briey. They withdraw their lines and
permit Briey to fall into the hands of the Germans. Then throughout the
war Briey and Thionville are operated as one huge war production unit by
the Germans. They turn out iron and steel that is hurled in huge Big
Berthas and little German machine guns at French poilus who are mowed
down by the hundreds of thousands. First one officer and then another
asks why France does not attack and silence Briey and Thionville.
General Malleterre demanded an attack. M. Pierre Etienne Flandin, one
day to be premier, an officer then, urged it at the front. Bombardment
was begun by General Guillaumat, but stopped instantly by headquarters.
Deputies clamored for its destruction. A committee of the Senate urged
it. Even the Cabinet asked why Briey and Thionville were not stopped.
But nothing was done. They went ahead pumping out materials for Krupp's
throughout the whole war. When the war was over Briey was handed back to
M. de Wendel unscathed. Who is M. de Wendel? What manner of man is he?
What goes on underneath his vest? What goes on inside the heads of the
men, the officers, the politicians who protect "property" that is
flooding its iron and steel to Krupp's to slaughter French boys in a war
for the very life of France? Are they monsters? Are they demons?
Unfortunately they are not. And that is what makes it all so mysterious
and so difficult to deal with.
It was into this strange business that Basil Zaharoff stepped, carrying
with him an almost ideal spiritual equipment for the job. It was not
then a huge industry. Best known perhaps was Alfred Krupp, the cannon
maker of Essen. At ten he inherited a modest iron foundry from old
Frederick Krupp who had started it in 1823. At fourteen Alfred went into
the business and slowly took over its direction. Cannon were made of
copper. Alfred perfected a solid crucible steel block from which he made
cannon. But he had not yet perfected any projectile capable of
penetrating the intransigent mentality of military bureaucrats. Cannon
were made of copper, had always been, must always be! Herr Krupp learned
from the start that the way to sell cannon to the Prussian king was to
sell them also to Prussia's neighbors and enemies. He made his first
sales to Egypt, then to Austria. When the Austro-Prussian War began,
both armies fired Krupp's cannon balls at each other, and his guns would
have been working in both armies in the Franco-Prussian War but for
Napoleon Ill's refusal to buy them. Krupp's cannon made Bismarck's swift
victory possible. After that Krupp made and sold his cannon everywhere
in 1877 when Zaharoff entered the arms field.
In England Thomas Vickers developed the little engineering plant of his
late father into first a prosperous iron foundry making car wheels,
cast-steel blocks and cylinders. He then turned to making gun barrels
and armor plate and finally a growing line of weapons.
In France, Joseph Eugene Schneider, a small banker, bought Le Creusot,
an iron foundry and arms plant that had made weapons for France since
Louis XIV. Schneider was on the verge of bankruptcy when Napoleon Ill's
adventures saved him, rehabilitated him, and made him rich. Schneider
was trying desperately to break into the international arms business but
was meeting determined and successful resistance from Krupp.
Over in America, the du Ponts, Colts, Winchesters, and Remington were
prospering as a result of the impetus from the Civil War. Eleuthere
Irenee du Pont, son of the famous French radical, Pierre du Pont,
emigrated to America, found the powder for hunting quite poor,
established a powder mill patronized by Napoleon, and supplied most of
the powder used in the War of 1812. He was the friend of Jefferson,
suffered the inevitable after-the-war slump, and got aid in France from
Madame de Stael and Talleyrand. He then found rich markets in Spain and
in South America when dictators and revolutionists fought it out,
refused to sell to Cuba during our Mexican War because he feared his
powder would go to Santa Anna (though he hated that war), grew rich when
railroads and frontiersmen needed dynamite to blast the Western prairies
and mountains and forests, sold all he could make to England, France,
and Turkey during the Crimean War, and was the mainspring of the Union
in the war between the states. In 1877 the du Ponts were already the
dominating figures in the powder combinations being formed in America,
and by 1897 they were powerful enough to enter into an international
arrangement by which the powder makers of America and Europe divided the
world among themselves.
Colt made revolvers, sold them to the soldiers and frontiersmen who
conquered the Texas plains, failed, but grew rich through the Crimean
and Civil Wars.
Remington made a fortune with his guns in the Civil War but was ruined
by the peace. But Remington recovered from the Civil War by diversifying
his products, going into typewriters and sewing machines, and in 1877 he
again had his agents in Europe contending for the business of the armies
there.
Winchester, whose guns had created a sensation at the London Fair in
1851, made a sensational repeating rifle during the Civil War, had
thirty-eight establishments making small guns, when Zaharoff became a
munitioneer, and had in the field one of the first of the world's arms
salesmen extraordinary, Colonel Tom Addis, who equipped Juarez in Mexico
and whose guns sealed the fate of Maximilian.
There were other smaller firms. But taken as a whole the munitions
industry was not a vast affair. The men who made fortunes out of arms in
earlier times ? the Brothers Paris, Chatelain, Ouvrard, Rothschild,
Bicker, Jacques Coeur ? were not producers of arms or powder and ball.
These things had always until the first half of the nineteenth century
been made in small shops, by individual craftsmen, in little foundries,
the largest of which hired only a few hundred men at most. The fortunes
were made by contractors, middlemen, and brokers who assumed the
function of collecting weapons, food, grain, clothing for the armies.
But with the growth of Krupp and Schneider and Vickers and du Pont and
the others, the business of producing weapons and explosives had taken
on larger shape.
All the drifts in the world were moving in the direction of the magic
business into which young Mr. Zaharoff had stumbled. The customer of the
munitions maker is the soldier. And Europe was learning how to produce
many customers for him. France had begun it ? republican France ? with
her mass conscription during the Revolution. But the practice had died
out when, after 1815, liberalism once more swept over Europe, until,
with Napoleon III, the whole dark movement of militarism took on life
once more. Bismarck made almost every German a soldier. And after the
Franco-Prussian War, every monarch in Europe was eager to copy the
junker model. Then the nation did not wait for a war to raise an army, a
small mercenary army. In every country armies were formed during
peacetime, far outnumbering any that had ever fought in war. In short,
every able-bodied man in Europe was a customer for the gun makers, and
peace became as flourishing a period for them as ever war had been.
Europe became an armed camp, and the Krupps and Schneiders and Vickers
did not have to wait for war to do big business. France, sullen,
mourning her "lost provinces"; Italy, nourishing the dream of "Italia
Irridenta"; Germany, preparing against France's effort for revenge,
Russia, with her pan-Slavic dreams, the Balkans, waiting for the day to
free her enslaved peoples from Austria, Turkey, Germany ? all made a
perfect climate for the trade of the sellers of rifles and cannon and
powder.
Moreover, the manufacturers of death did not sit still. New and more
terrible weapons were being fabricated. Smokeless powder, small-bore
magazine rifles for accuracy and distance, rifling of gun bores, the
French mitrailleuse blossoming into the machine gun, Krupp's
breach-loading monoblock guns, recoil appliances, the armored warship
that began with the Merrimac and Monitor and the submarine ? all these
gave to the arms drummers a line of goods that introduced into armament
the stimulating element of style and quality obsolescence and kept the
ordnance departments busy junking old weapons and buying new ones.
This last element was one that told heavily on the side of the new arms
salesman in Athens ? Nordenfeldt's new Balkan drummer. For Nordenfeldt,
though small, had an attractive collection of lethal gadgets. He had the
eccentric screw breach, the mechanical time fuse, an excellent
quick-firing gun, and, wonder of wonders, a submarine that he had invented.
Zaharoff had to look for business in the Balkans. The Turko- Russian War
had just ended. Greece saw herself left out of the division of loot and
she determined to arm. She planned an army of 100,000 instead of 20,000
? 100,000 customers for the young arms drummer instead of 20,000. Of
course, Zaharoff had to meet the competition of Krupp and others. But he
was a Greek and, by this time, we may be sure, burning with patriotism
and sales pressure.
But he did not sell a submarine until 1885 when he planted one in the
Greek navy. Having done this, the Greek patriot went to Greece's enemy,
Turkey, and sold two. By this time Hiram Maxim, the American, was
running away with the business in quick-firing guns, for his Maxim
machine gun outdistanced all rivals. He was going about Europe
demonstrating it himself and getting orders. This was a serious matter
for Nordenfeldt and his man Zaharoff. Just how it came about and who
managed it, no one knows, but in 1886 Maxim and Nordenfeldt joined
forces. But Zaharoff now held a substantial interest in the Nordenfeldt
firm.
With this development, Zaharoff began to range over a territory wider
than the Balkans. He had established relations with many of the most
influential persons in European war departments, ministries, and noble
social circles. He was the dominating sales force of the
Nordenfeldt-Maxim combination. Gradually Nordenfeldt vanished out of the
business, Zaharoff took his place as Maxim's partner, and the firm took
the name of the Maxim Guns and Ammunition Company, Ltd. It is a singular
fact that Hiram Maxim in his autobiography makes no reference to Zaharoff.
The next step was another combination with Vickers, Thomas Vickers ? the
second largest English manufacturer of arms. Maxim became a member of
the Vickers board of directors. Zaharoff's name did not figure in the
organization at all. But he and Maxim, in some proportion unknown to
history, got for their company from Vickers £1,353,334, or over six and
a half million dollars, partly in cash and partly in stock in the
Vickers company. Zaharoff thus became a substantial stockholder in
Vickers and would one day be the largest of all. He also became the
chief salesman of Vickers which, unlike Krupp and Schneider, had
remained up to this point out of the international market. But Zaharoff
showed the way into this bountiful field, and thereafter he moved about
Europe with a card announcing him as the delegate of Thomas Vickers & Sons.
But Vickers was in no sense a great business. Its principal function had
been supplying guns for the British navy. It was prosperous and imposing
after the modest standards of that day. Its great growth dates from the
absorption of the Nordenfeldt company, with Nordenfeldt's submarine,
Maxim's machine gun, and the shrewd, dynamic salesmanship of Zaharoff.
IV.
Nothing was wanting but romance now to complete the equipment of Basil
Zaharoff for the principal role in a Dumas novel. And this he supplied
upon a pattern perfectly in keeping with his character. In 1889, while
he was ranging Europe ? particularly Russia ? for orders, he met Maria
del Pilar Antonia Angela Patiocinio Simona de Muguiro y Berute, the
Duchess of Villafranca. She was the wife of a young man closely
connected with the royal family of Spain. She proved useful to Zaharoff
in arranging connections in Spain that enabled him to sell many millions
of dollars of arms to the war department. But Zaharoff fell in love with
her and urged her to divorce her husband, who was ill and on the verge
of dementia. The Duchess, a good Catholic, would not consider divorce,
but she became Zaharoff's mistress, confident that her husband was
destined for a speedy death. His mind failed completely, he was put into
an insane asylum, and proceeded to disappoint the Duchess and her lover
by continuing to live for another thirty-five years. She continued as
ZaharofFs mistress; he remained attached to her with singular devotion
and in 1924, when her husband died, the two lovers ? then aged and near
the end of their lives, he seventy-five and she over sixty ? were
married in a little town outside Paris. They had had two daughters. The
Duchess, however, survived this marriage by only eighteen months and her
death left the aged bridegroom inconsolable.
About the time he met the Duchess, Zaharoff established a home in Paris.
He was rich and a man of striking, distinguished appearance; a small
mustache and imperial and drooping eyelids added an expression of
inscrutability to his grave countenance. He cultivated the habit of
silence. He avoided displays, public appearances. He took up his place
in that foggy, ill-lighted world so fascinating to the readers of
newspapers ? the world of Behind the Scenes. He had acquaintances, if
not friends, among the most important people in Europe. He was now a
part owner, sales delegate, guiding spirit of a growing British armament
firm, but with his home in France. He spoke Turkish, Greek, French,
Italian, German, and probably various Balkan dialects. And the world was
unfolding auspiciously if not beautifully before him in the grim
business in which he flourished.
As for Vickers, it now began to expand upon an impressive scale. By 1890
England set out upon a more ambitious naval program than ever. Vickers,
which had been a builder of guns, now went into naval construction, as
did Krupp in Germany. It acquired a controlling interest in Beardmore's
great shipbuilding firm in Glasgow. It took over the Naval Armaments
Company with its dockyards, the Woolsey Tool & Motor Company and the
Electric & Ordnance Accessories Company. It became a great department
store of lethal weapons and could supply its customers with anything
from a rifle to a battleship. Sir Vincent Caillard became its financial
genius as Zaharoff was its sales genius. They made an excellent team.
Caillard knew how to mix the hard, cruel funcBASIL ZAHAROFF 351 tions of
gun-making finance with the more delicate and spiritual values of
versemaking, like another and earlier munitioneer, Bonnier de la Mosson,
who accumulated a fortune as an army contractor in the time of Louis XV
and exercised his leisure by writing verses so bad that Voltaire said
they ought to be crowned by the Academy. Sir Vincent made music too and
he found time amidst the dark sophistications of munitions finance to
set to music Blake's Songs of Innocence.
Events favored them ? the Spanish-American War, the Chinese- Japanese
War, the English-Boer War, in which the Tommies, armed with Vickers
rifles, were scientifically mowed down with Maxim's pom-pom, or
quick-firing cannon, supplied to the Boers by M. Zaharoff of Vickers.
But the greatest opportunity was the Russo-Japanese War. When it ended
all Europe's war ministries awoke. The war had been a great proving
ground for guns and ships ? a laboratory for militarists. Above all,
Russia had to start at the bottom and completely rebuild her shattered
armies. The Czar provided over $620,000,000 for rearming. All the
armament makers in the world flocked to St. Petersburg. Zaharoff,
representing Vickers, arrived first on the scene. He spoke Russian
fluently. He was a member of the Orthodox Greek Church. He had spent
much time in Russia. He knew his way around.
The Schneider-Creusot firm felt it had a special claim on Russian
business. Was not Russia France's ally? Were not French bankers
financing Russia? There developed swiftly a struggle between Schneider
and Vickers out of which Zaharoff emerged with the largest share of the
booty. Indeed, this particular episode established him definitely as the
great master arms merchant of the world.
This fight centered upon two projects ? the Putilov munitions works and
a plan to erect a new and comprehensive artillery plant somewhere in Russia.
The contest became somewhat complicated, as all armament contests in
Europe are. Behind Schneider was the Banque de l'Union Parisienne, in
which he held a large interest. Oddly enough, allied with Vickers was
another French bank ? the Societe Generale.
The Putilov works had been heavily financed by Schneider with TUnion
Parisienne funds. But Putilov needed more funds. And to make matters
worse, Putilov was out of favor. Schneider, despairing of continuing
successfully to find an outlet for French arms through Putilov,
conceived the idea of building for Russia an entirely new plant in the
Urals. But Zaharoff was at work on the same idea, got the inside track,
and came off with an arrangement to build for Russia the huge arsenal of
Zarizyn at a cost of $12,500,000 ? the largest in Russia. Besides that,
Zaharoff and certain English interests with whom he was working got
large contracts through the St. Petersburg Iron Works and the Franco-
Russian Company. With the Russian Shipbuilding Company he got contracts
to build two battleships, while Beardmore, Vickers' subsidiary, got a
dockyard and a cannon factory. This was a severe blow to Schneider. And
all the time that Zaharoff was working for this he had a paper in Paris,
Excelsior, which was pumping out propaganda continuously for more French
loans to Russia ? French loans that Russia could spend with Vickers.
Schneider now turned his attention again to salvaging the Putilov works
and strengthening his hold upon it. He could get no more financing from
l'Union Parisienne, because it already had too much tied up in Putilov
and frozen in Balkan investments. He appealed in desperation to the
Societe Generale, which was secretly allied with Zaharoff and the
English, though a French bank. He was, of course, refused. Indeed the
Societe Generale took advantage of Schneider's embarrassment, doubtless
assisted by Zaharoff, to force Schneider out of Putilov altogether. It
became a fight between two French banks and a French munitions magnate
for Russian business. But at this point Mr. Schneider executed one of
those tactical movements we encounter in an Oppenheim international
mystery novel.
One day Paris read in the Echo de Paris a brief dispatch, datelined in
St. Petersburg. "There is a rumor," it reported, "that the Putilov
factories at St. Petersburg will be bought by Krupp. If this information
is well founded, it will cause great concern in France. It is known
indeed that Russia has adopted French types of guns and munitions for
her naval artillery and coast defenses. The greater part of the material
produced at this time by Putilov was made in collaboration with the
Creusot factories and the technical staff which the latter sent to the
spot."
Here was a provocative item packed away in this little paragraph.
Putilov made French guns from French plans. Krupp would get Putilov.
Into the German hands would fall all the French ordnance secrets. This
was the alarming message in that dispatch. Most disturbing of all,
France's great secret gun ? her carefully guarded 7 5-millimeter ? would
now come into the possession of Krupp's engineers. The little item
swelled rapidly to a press sensation. Krupp denied the story. Vickers,
also linked with the sale in some papers, denied it. France must not
suffer this disaster. Russia wanted a loan of $25,000,000 for railway
rehabilitation. The ministry appealed to patriotic Frenchmen to band
together to make the Russian loan and as a condition perpetuate
Schneider's hold on Putilov. The pressure was too great to withstand.
The loan was made. Schneider got his financing for Putilov. Even the
Societe Generate had to help Schneider.
It was some years before France learned that the whole dispatch incident
was a hoax. Mr. Albert Thomas, director of the International Labor
Office in Geneva, in 1921 made a speech there describing how French
industrialists boasted to him that they had forged the St. Petersburg
dispatch in the office of Echo one night at ten o'clock, and how they
had done it not because Putilov was threatened by Krupp but by another
French group. They did not hesitate, in this contest for control of a
Russian plant, to stir up public opinion against Germany, to set the old
chauvinist pot to boiling.
Zaharoff had failed in his maneuvers to drive the French out of Russia
altogether, but he captured for Vickers and other English arms makers
the largest share of Russia's munitions millions.
V.
Thus the arms makers drove Europe along up to 1914. The airplane had
arrived, and Vickers added airplane production to its growing interests.
In Paris M. Zaharoff endowed a chair of aviation at the Sorbonne.
Indeed, M. Zaharoff, for all his pains to elude the spotlight, found
that revealing beam playing upon him at intervals and to his
discomfiture. Who is this M. Zaharoff? What is he? To what country does
he owe allegiance? He was born in Turkey. He is a Greek. He is a French
citizen. He is an English businessman. But what country does he serve?
And what sort of game is he playing in France? These were not pleasant
questions for one who, indeed, had what Mr. Roosevelt calls a passion
for anonymity. Hence the endowed chair at the Sorbonne. And then a home
for French soldiers. His name appeared upon subscription lists for all
good French causes. And then the French ministry conferred upon him the
rosette of an officer of the Legion of Honor ? a reward for the chair at
the Sorbonne.
Vickers grew, spread out ? plants in Britain, Canada, Italy, Africa,
Greece, Turkey, Russia, New Zealand, Ireland, Holland; banks,
steelworks, cannon factories, dockyards, plane factories, subsidiaries
of all sorts; an arms empire. It had share capital larger than Krupp's
and had more extensive connections and possessions than Krupp's. And
this growth was chiefly the work of the French citizen of Greek blood
who, acting the role of ambassador- salesman, had planted the Vickers
standard all over the world, from Ireland to Japan and from the North
Sea to the Antipodes.
It was done with the aid of British-government backing and pressure, the
immense financial resources of British finance; by means of bribery and
chicanery, by the purchase of military and naval authorities and the
press wherever newspapers could be bought. It is a dark, sordid story of
ruthless money getting without regard for honor, morals, and either
national or humane considerations, while the Europe which they upset
with their conspiracies and terrorized with their war scares, and to
which they sold hatred as the indispensable condition of marketing guns,
slid along with the certainty of doom into the chasm of fire and death
in 1914.
On March 18, 1914, on the very brink of the coming disaster, Philip
Snowden, disease-wracked, crippled socialist labor leader rose in
Commons to make a speech. When he had done, he had rocked the British
Empire with his disclosures. For two years a young Quaker socialist
named Walton Newbold had been tracing with infinite pains the tortuous
trail of the international arms makers. And Philip Snowden had in his
possession the fruits of that long quest when he rose to speak. One by
one he pointed out cabinet ministers, members of the House, and named
high-ranking officials in army and navy circles, persons of royal
position, who were large holders of shares in Vickers and Armstrong, in
John Brown and Beardmore, shipbuilders.
The profits of Vickers and Armstrong had been enormous, and the most
powerful persons in the state and the church and the nobility had bought
into them to share in the profits. Vickers had among its directors two
dukes, two marquesses, and family members of fifty earls, fifteen
baronets, and five knights, twenty-one naval officers, two naval
government architects, and many journalists. Armstrong had even more ?
sixty earls or their wives, fifteen baronets, twenty knights, and twenty
military or naval architects and officers, while there were thirteen
members of the House of Commons on the directorates of Vickers,
Armstrong, or John Brown. "It would be impossible," said Snowden, "to
throw a handful of pebbles anywhere upon the opposition benches without
hitting members interested in these arms firms."
Ministers, officers, technical experts moved out of the government, out
of the cabinet, the navy, the army, the war office, the admiralty, into
the employ of the munitions manufacturers.
Snowden quoted Lord Welby, head of the Civil Service, who only a few
weeks before had denounced the arms conspirators. "We are in the hands
of an organization of crooks," said Lord Welby. "They are politicians,
generals, manufacturers of armaments and journalists. All of them are
anxious for unlimited expenditure, and go on inventing scares to terrify
the public and to terrify the Ministers of the Crown."
Every business attracts to itself men who have the taste, talent, and
the morals suited to its special requirements. This armament world of
Europe was a behind-the-scenes world of intrigue, chicanery, hypocrisy,
and corruption. It involved a weird marriage between burning patriotism
and cold, ruthless realism. And the men who rose to leadership in it
were men who combined the vices of the spy, the bribe giver, the
corruptionist. They played with an explosive far more volatile and
dangerous than anything made in their laboratories ? chauvinism ? and
they did it with ruthless realism. There was, indeed, something
singularly brutal about their realism.
The trail of that vast armament effort between 1877 and 1914 is stained
by a record of bribery of admirals and generals, civil servants of all
degrees ranging from cabinet ministers to messengers. One German
armament maker said that "Krupp employs hundreds of officers on leave or
withdrawal at high salaries for doing nothing much at all. For some
families Krupp factories are a great sinecure where nephews and poor
relations of officials whose influence in war is great find themselves
jobs."
In 1913, a year before Snowden's exposures in the House of Commons, Dr.
Karl Liebknecht, socialist leader in the Reichstag, made a series of
grave charges against German armament leaders that resulted in the trial
and conviction of the secretary-superintendent of the Ministry of War,
four arsenal officials, and four lieutenants and others, including
Brandt, the Berlin agent of Krupp. A year later, about the time that
Snowden was shocking his colleagues in Parliament, Liebknecht again
brought a series of charges against the corruption of Japanese officials
by Siemens-Schuckert, another German arms concern. This led to the
scandal unearthed by the Japanese Diet and showing that M. Zaharoff's
firm of Vickers, along with the Mitsui Bussan Kaisha, had paid out
$565,000 in bribes to Japanese officials to clinch the contract for the
building of the battleship Kongo. Of course no espionage could follow
the numerous and devious trails of the arms makers. It is strange that
even so much of their corruption came to light. But what was exposed can
be taken as no more than samples of the manner in which their business
was conducted.
The whole excuse of this industry was national defense. Yet these
enterprises were as busy supplying the armies of their enemies as the
armies of their own countries. Up to the time of Alfred Krupp's death in
1887 he had made 24,576 cannon of which only 10,666, or less than half,
were sold to the fatherland for national defense. The rest went to
Germany's enemies and neighbors. Some of them ? Austria and China ? were
supposed to be her allies. But Austria's Krupp cannons sent death
through German ranks in the Austro- Prussian War, and when, in the Boxer
rebellion, a German warship attacked a Chinese fort, the cannons Krupp
sold to Li Hung Chang dealt death and destruction to German sailors.
When Italy and Turkey fought in 1911 Turkey used a fleet largely
supplied by Italy. And when Italy and Germany fought in the World War,
Italy had a fleet of seventeen vessels built in German shipyards.
Zaharoff had got from Turkey contracts for two dreadnaughts and a fleet
of destroyers to patrol the Dardanelles, which were conveniently on hand
when the British soldiers were landed in 1915 to attempt to carry that
stronghold. Earlier still, British Tommies in South Africa were mowed
down by Maxim's quick-firing cannon ? the pom-poms ? which Zaharoff for
Vickers had sold to the Boers. The story is an endless one. It includes
even the sinking of the Lusitania, which played so large a part in
bringing America into the war. For this was the feat of a German
submarine built upon plans supplied before the war to Austria by the
Electric Boat Company, American submarine builders.
VI.
The fame of Krupp ? the part he, Alfred, and his son Fritz played in the
development of the junker regime in Germany ? gives to the name Krupp a
kind of premiership among the Merchants of Death. And while Krupp never
attained the size and expansion of the Vickers firm that Zaharoff built,
and particularly of the Vickers- Armstrong firm, when these two were
combined after the war, yet a special notice ought to be taken here of
this vast German arms machine. Old Alfred Krupp, high-handed,
overbearing, ruthless pursuer of wealth, died in 1887. The little steel
plant at Essen had only about thirty employees when he began work in it.
When Zaharoff entered the arms industry in Greece it had grown to a
great enterprise employing over 16,000 men. Old Alfred went to his death
a wretched, isolated misanthrope. He left as his heir his son Fritz,
thirty-three, delicate, shy, sensitive, unpromising, who had filled
various posts in the business since he was twenty in preparation for his
destiny.
Fritz Krupp immediately embarked upon a policy of expansion, making
armor plate, buying up shipyards at Kiel to be ready for the era of
naval expansion that the youthful von Tirpitz was even then brewing.
Bismarck was let out, the last brake upon unrestrained militarism was
removed, young Kaiser Wilhelm became a close friend and frequent visitor
and hunting companion of Fritz Krupp. Von Tirpitz was made Secretary of
the Admiralty, the first naval act was passed to spend 150 million marks
on ships, and Krupp got the lion's share. The German Navy League was
called into being. With the aid of large subsidies from Krupp and Stumm
and other arms patriots, it unloosed upon the German people a flood of
highpowered patriotic propaganda, backed by the Kaiser. The junker age
was now in full career. Wilhelm ordered that half of all armament
contracts be awarded to Krupp and the rest divided among the other
German munitioneers. Germany kept her arms contracts at home. Krupp's
mills, shipyards, and docks became indispensable to Germany, not only
for war purposes but for peace. It was a vast industry that employed
many men and provided still more employment among all the raw-material
industries upon which it drew. When the Hague conference was discussed
in Germany, looking toward disarmament, the militarist ministers asked
what would become of Krupp's business if Germany disarmed. They put that
in writing, and the Kaiser wrote upon the memorandum the question, "How
will Krupp pay his men?" Armament had become a cornerstone of the German
internal economic policy.
Fritz Krupp grew ever richer, worth 119 million marks in 1895, 187
million marks when he died in 1902. He had an income of seven million
marks in 1895 and twenty-one million in 1902. He had put aside the
severe manner of life of the crusty old Alfred. He had become an
industrial monarch. He dwelt in three great German castles ? Hugel on
the Ruhr, Sayneck in the Rhine Valley, and Meineck in Baden-Baden ? and
was a member of the Prussian State Council, of the federal House of
Lords, a Privy Councilor, surrounded by flatterers and parasites.
He was destined to a melancholy end. A man of strange tastes and
mystifying behavior, he kept his wife in an insane asylum and acquired a
place at Capri, the Hermitage of Fra Felicia, which he called the Holy
Grotto. He had attendants clad in the gowns of Franciscan monks. He
formed an "order" ? an association of men, the members of which had keys
to the Holy Grotto. There gargantuan feasts were spread. There the
Cannon King II held wassail until the dawn sometimes ? orgies, these
feasts were called by the islanders. Presently Neapolitan papers printed
stories about them. One German paper, the Vorwdrts, retold the tales,
more than insinuating that this was a homosexual "abbey." Fritz Krupp
sued the Vorwdrts. Socialist deputies flew to the charge, the episode
became a national scandal in which the Kaiser felt called upon to intervene.
Then on the night of November 21, 1902, when the prosecution of the
Vorworts was being prepared, Fritz Krupp died alone in his bedroom.
Whether he died of a stroke or killed himself remained a subject of
violent controversy in Germany for many years. Certainly, contradictory
reports about his manner of death were issued. The Kaiser went to Essen
and walked on foot behind the corpse to silence scandal. The prosecution
of the Vorwdrts was dropped. And the widow, until Fritz' death held as
an unbalanced person, assumed command of the vast enterprises and
administered them for a while with drive and vigor.
VII.
When the war broke over Europe the moment of paradise for the arms
makers was at hand. At first glance it may appear singular that the
activities of Zaharoff during the war remain so obscure. But if ever
there was a time when Europe needed no munitions salesmen it was after
1914. The salesman's work was done. The war ? modern war, the greatest,
most insatiable customer of the munitioneers ? had come into the market.
Generals and admirals clamored for more and ever more arms and
explosives. The work of the salesmen of death was over, for the moment,
anyway. Therefore Zaharoff's industry did not need his peculiar abilities.
But the moment came when Britain and France desired Greece as an active
ally in the war. This was when England launched her attack upon the
Dardanelles. The Greek government was divided. The pan-Hellenic
Venizelos, his majority in the chamber, and the National Council favored
joining the Allies. Constantine, King, brother-in-law of the Kaiser,
pro-German, favored neutrality. He was popular in Greece because of the
recent Balkan victories. The King dismissed Venizelos. In June the
voters returned Venizelos to power. The chief objective of the Allies at
the moment was to keep Bulgaria out of the war, hence the threat of
Greek participation on the Allied side. Bulgaria mobilized in September,
1915. Venizelos ordered a countermobilization. The King permitted it
until he heard that Venizelos proposed to go to the aid of Serbia. Then
he dismissed the Premier again.
At this juncture Zaharoff's offices were enlisted. When Venizelos was
dismissed, Constantine named Skouloudis, Zaharoff's old friend and
benefactor, as Premier. Perhaps this may have accounted for Zaharoff's
interest. Perhaps he would be able to work the miracle with Skouloudis.
But there was another reason. The Greek problem now literally assumed
the form of a conspiracy to dethrone the King and drive him out of
Athens. This was a business into which France and England could not very
well enter officially. They dared not supply funds for the purpose.
After all, Greece was neutral and on terms of friendly intercourse with
France. Briand, therefore, drew away from having any direct part in
managing or financing a plan to upset the monarchy in Greece. But
Zaharoff, a private citizen, could do this, particularly if he supplied
his own money. Just before Christmas, 1915, therefore, Zaharoff had a
conference with Briand and agreed to assume the job of bringing Greece
in on the side of the Allies or of ousting Constantine. Briand notified
Venizelos of this good fortune. And Zaharoff set about his task.
Just how much he did personally, what steps he actually originated, and
what pressures he organized and directed are not known. The money for
the campaign is supposed to have been supplied by him and it is also
reported to have run into many millions. Whether it was furnished by him
or Vickers or various other interests is also not known. The propaganda
in Greece, handled by a French naval attache, had been execrable. He was
relieved of his clumsy performances, and an instrument called the Agence
Radio was set up to go to work upon the Grecian mind. It resorted to all
the familiar devices of international propaganda. It subsidized
newspapers, bribed editors, issued pamphlets, financed meetings, and
generally managed all the standard techniques of underground activity.
For one thing it played heavily upon Allied successes. In Europe every
small country wanted to be on the winning side. And Zaharoff's Agence
Radio pumped up such endless whoppers about French and English victories
that the Russian minister in Athens protested that it was absurd.
Zaharoff, if he tried to do anything with his old friend Skouloudis,
failed, for the Premier stuck to the King and worked incessantly for
neutrality. But Constantine was growing weaker and Venizelos stronger.
Finally, when the time was ripe, Venizelos went to Salonika, where the
Allies had landed, and organized a revolutionary government which
resulted in the abdication of Constantine in June, 1917. Greece joined
the Allies and the following year threw 2 50,000 men into the great
Macedonian offensive that forced the surrender of Bulgaria.
This was an important service, for the defeat of Bulgaria, with which
Greece's participation had much to do, was the first great crack in the
enemy front. Zaharoff was busy in other directions. He endowed a chair
of aviation at the University of St. Petersburg and made $125,000
available in England for the study of aviation problems. He subscribed
200,000 francs for a war hospital at Biarritz. Mr. Lewinsohn, his most
industrious biographer, credits him, upon the authority of the Paris
Temps, with contributing not less than 50 million francs (about
$10,000,000 at prewar value) to the cause of England and France during
the war.
But Zaharoff was not done with Greece. The armistice did not end the
dreams of that relentless Cretan patriot, Venizelos, for the realization
of his pan-Hellenic dreams. Zaharoff met Venizelos for the first time in
1918. And at Zaharoff's villa the two Greeks planned great gains for
Greece out of the victory about to be won. The story, much
oversimplified, runs about as follows. Zaharoff, Greek to the core
despite his many other national encrustations, proposed to finance
Venizelos in the realization of his dreams of expansion in Asia Minor.
In May, 1919, Venizelos won from the allied statesmen their consent to
occupy Smyrna. In August, 1920, the Treaty of Sevres gave to Greece
Smyrna, its hinterland and a large territory in Asia Minor. With
Zaharoff's funds Venizelos began to occupy these territories. Lloyd
George, British premier, supported Venizelos completely in these adventures.
But quickly a series of misfortunes overtook the great Greek statesman.
First, France lost interest in her Greek ally. Then unrest spread
rapidly through Greece against Venizelos. The reprehensible behavior of
his subordinates in Athens, while he worked with the powers in Paris,
produced profound dissatisfaction, which the agents of the absent
Constantine skillfully exploited. However, Constantine's son, Alexander,
was King and Venizelos seemed secure with him. Then suddenly, young
Alexander, bitten by a monkey, died of the infection, and the whole
Greek political situation was thrown into chaos. Venizelos, absent so
much at the Paris conferences, had lost control and in an election
forced in November, 1920, his ministry was defeated. Within a month
Constantine returned to power, Venizelos was an exile, and Zaharoff s
plans were in the fire.
But the end was not yet. Constantine pressed on with Venizelos'
grandiose plans, launched an ambitious Greek offensive in July, 1921,
suffered a decisive defeat at Sakaria, and in September was driven from
Smyrna by a revamped and refurbished Turkish army under Kemal Pasha,
which burned that hapless city to the ground in one of the great
disasters of history. Constantine was forced again to retire. By this
time Lloyd George was being bitterly assailed in England for accepting
the advice of Zaharoff, and, in the end, the ministry of Lloyd George
was wrecked upon the rock of the Grecian debacle. Zaharoff, we are
assured, lost an immense slice of his fortune in this daring and
ambitious design to create a great Hellenic empire in Asia Minor.
But this scarcely tells the whole story. Lord Beaverbrook had said that
"the destinies of nations are Zaharoff's sport." It was not all sport.
It was the kind of sport ? gamble is the better word ? in which the wily
old schemer played for high stakes. As early as 1918 Zaharoff began to
plan for certain undisclosed adventures. While the armies of the world
strained on to the last scene of the war, Zaharoff laid plans for the
coming peace. He bought a bank in Paris ? the Banque Mayer Freres ?
renamed it the Banque de la Seine, reorganized it, capitalized it at 12
million francs, and very quickly increased this to 30 million. This was
about the time he met Venizelos and concocted with him the Grecian program.
Later, in 1920, the Greeks had occupied Smyrna and the Allies were in
possession of Constantinople. At that time, as the Greeks prepared for
their offensive in Asia Minor, he founded a new bank in Constantinople ?
the Banque Commerciale de la Mediterranee. Had not Beaverbrook said, "In
the wake of war this mysterious figure moves over tortured Europe." This
bank was capitalized at 30 million francs, its ownership resting in the
Banque de la Seine. It set up for business in the quarters of the
Deutsche Orientbank. Next he organized the Societe Frangaise des Docks
et Ateliers de Constructions Navales and planned to take over the docks
of the Societe Ottoman. For whom? All these companies were French in
name at least ? there was no smell of the hated Briton anywhere. But
this would have given Zaharoff control of the most important naval docks
in Turkey. Could it be for Vickers? For whom else? But the Turks refused
to let M. Zaharoff have these valuable properties. And when this
occurred did not the British government demand that Kemal Pasha turn
them over to Vickers and Armstrong?
There was something more than Greek patriotism in Zaharoff's league with
Venizelos. Beaverbrook said: "The movement of armies and the affairs of
governments are his special delight." He had inspired the movements of
the Greek armies. He had insinuated himself as the adviser of Lloyd
George in Asia Minor. The British Prime Minister had made Zaharoff's
plans part of his policy. Zaharoff had spent, it was said, four million
pounds ? $20,000,000 ? on the Greek campaign. But there is really no
evidence of this. So far as I can find, the statement rests upon a
single question, by a member of the British Commons, Mr. Aubrey Herbert
in 1921, during an interpolation ? a question which Mr. Bonar Law
parried. How much Zaharoff spent and whether it was his money or that of
the English armament firms under his leadership, who were using the
disturbed state of eastern Europe to get possession of valuable
properties there, remain completely unriddled. Their plans did not turn
out well. The collapse of what is called M. Zaharoff's personal war with
Turkey ? the Greco-Turkish War of 1920-22 ? the disastrous defeat of the
Greeks, the awful tragedy of Smyrna, and the execution of most of the
Greek cabinet ruined all Zaharoff's plans and brought him the loss of
millions.
But long before the disaster the name of Zaharoff was being whispered
around the clubs in London as the author of Lloyd George's highly
unpopular policy in Greece and Turkey. Mr. Walter Guinness attacked the
Prime Minister in the House on this score in August, 1920, when the
Turks started their vigorous counterattack. The next year Lloyd George
was again assailed in Commons with greater effect by Mr. Aubrey Herbert.
And when the great catastrophe at Smyrna shocked Europe, Lloyd George
found himself at the end of his rope and resigned.
These Turkish enterprises were not the only fields into which Zaharoff's
Banque de la Seine ventured. Very quietly, without fuss or trumpets, the
Banque de la Seine became the owner of a company called the Societe
Navale del'Ouest ? a shipping company equipped to transport oil. Then
another company appeared ? the Societe Generale des Huiles de Petrole.
Fifty-five per cent of its stock belonged to the Societe Navale de
l'Ouest, the Banque de la Seine, and Zaharoff, and forty-five per cent
to the British government-owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company. This Societe
Generale was no small affair. Its capital in 1922 came to 227 million
francs. It took over or formed other corporations with refineries, so
that by 1922 Zaharoff had organized in France a British-owned integrated
oil industry.
These projects were typical of the Zaharoff technique. In both cases he
was acting as a Frenchman, a citizen of France, organizing what seemed
to be French companies ? one group to exploit the armament possibilities
of Turkey and Greece for Vickers, the other group to exploit French
territory for the Anglo-Persian oil interests of the British government.
Always a large part of the working machinery and certainly the meaning
of Zaharoff projects were underground. He was the mysterious
entrepreneur, the schemer moving in the dark, playing with
behind-the-door intrigues, twisting silently along tortuous routes for
undisclosed agents. Various writers have woven different surmises out of
all these performances. But unfortunately most of the factors in the
problem of Zaharoff's designs remain unknown. The most that can be said
with assurance of certainty is that he, accepted as a citizen of France,
honored by the ministry, and enjoying the confidence of her most
powerful ministers, used France ? as indeed he had always done ? as a
base for managing an English trade offensive, trade in arms and in oil
in France and the Near East, in direct conflict at many points with the
French government's own objectives. He is credited with immense losses
in the fatal Greco-Turkish War. Doubtless he lost heavily, but doubtless
also, his losses were shared by his colleagues in Vickers.
He is also credited with being able to offset these losses with his new
profitable oil investments. What these investments were worth to him
must also remain a mystery. In the end his Banque de la Seine fell upon
troubled days and he let it go. After a brief effort to adjust it to the
new conditions, he saw, doubtless with complacence, others take it over.
It is an extraordinary feature of these Grecian and Turkish and
Anglo-Persian oil transactions that, though they form part of the
history of the period that has been raked over by historians, and though
Zaharoff beyond doubt was the field marshal directing them in France,
his personal movements throughout remain in complete obscurity. No major
figure has succeeded so completely in cloaking his movements as this
master-intriguer.
VIII.
Zaharoff suffered losses, staggering ones. Seemingly the war had brought
a magnificent harvest for the war profiteers. In America firms like
Calumet and Hecla Copper had had, at the peak, as much as 800 per cent
profit on their capital stock. In the two years of 1916 and 1917 the
United States Steel Corporation showed a profit of $1,100,000,000. The
Bethlehem Steel Company averaged profits of $48,000,000 a year during
the four years of the war. In the year before the war Vickers had a
profit of roughly $5,000,000.
During the war, of course, it drove forward in a hot frenzy of
production. It delivered to the armies and navies 100,000 machine guns,
2528 naval and field guns, thousands of tons of armor plate, built four
battleships, three armored cruisers, fifty-three submarines, three
subsidiary vessels, and sixty-two smaller boats. Under a British act its
earnings could not exceed by more than twenty per cent the average of
the two years preceding the war. But its capital was greater and its
production was greater and earnings were calculated proportionately on
production.
A day came, however, when all those thousands of guns that Vickers and
Armstrong and Krupp and the rest had made for the warmakers went
terribly silent. The greatest disaster of all had fallen upon the arms
makers ? the disaster of peace. As one writer has put it, Krupp's
immense tangle of machines in Essen "stopped with an audible jerk."
Suddenly there was nothing for the 165,000 employees of Essen to do. It
was the same in Sheffield. It took the men who ruled these great mills a
little time to realize what had happened to them. The great expansion of
plant during the war was now no longer needed. And, for that matter, the
expansion that preceded the war was, for the moment, excessive.
But apparently Vickers believed it could survive. How far Zaharoff's
counsels ruled in this error no one has told. He was the driving spirit
of expansion always. He was directing in France the extension of
operations into the Near East. He went to Rumania to bargain with the
government. Representing Vickers, he offered a loan of three million
pounds to save Rumania from a currency collapse, asking in return a
mortgage upon the Rumanian railroad revenues. This has a bearing upon
his attitude toward the expansionist policy of Vickers after the war. A
new arms concern was started in Poland in combination with Schneider, a
shipyard was built on the Baltic, munitions factories were taken over in
Rumania, the British Westinghouse Company was absorbed, the company went
into the production of railroad equipment. It actually increased its
investment in new plants by $85,000,000.
Doubtless they believed there was life in the old militarist carcass
yet. There were the new nations just formed which had to have weapons.
Then their greatest competitor was literally wiped out. Krupp was
required by the Allies to destroy 801,000 tools and appliances, 157,000
cubic yards of concrete and earthworks, 9300 machines of all sorts, 379
installations, and 159 experimental guns, and was forbidden to
manufacture arms. Krupp became a huge warehouse and miscellaneous
fabricator of all sorts of things. And so Vickers and doubtless Zaharoff
believed there would be plenty of orders again when the world settled
down to its routine of business, diplomacy, intrigue, treaty violations,
ancient hatreds and new ones again. And they were right. But it would
not come in time. For the time being the game was up.
Vickers went from loss to loss and from crisis to crisis. A committee
had to be named to look into its affairs. The report was a dark one. It
called for drastic reorganization, shrinkage, liquidation of stock. The
alternative was bankruptcy. The reorganization was effected. Two thirds
of the stock was wiped out. Douglas Vickers was eliminated. Sir Herbert
Lawrence became its head. Zaharoff, sustaining a huge stock loss,
doubtless slid quietly out of any important place in the control
thereafter. This was in 1925. A little after this, Armstrong was in even
worse trouble. It suffered reorganization which ended in a combination
with Vickers, and Vickers took the lion's share. The firm became
Vickers-Armstrong. This was in 1927, just fifty years after Basil
Zaharoff in Athens had become a five-pound-a-week salesman for
Nordenfeldt, later to be merged with Vickers. And so Vickers' directors
met and presented to Sir Basil Zaharoff a cup on the completion of his
half century of service with the firm and "as a mark of their great
appreciation of the valuable work he has done for them and of their
sincere gratitude and concern."
IX.
The frowns of Sir Basil's war god, however, did not leave him destitute.
He had lost a few hundred million francs. But there were BASIL ZAHAROFF
369 many millions left. What he had lost, of course, was his place at
the center in the great game of moving armies, gambling statesmen,
scheming gun peddlers. He lived in his mansion in the Rue Hoche in Paris
for some months each year, then in his Chateau Balincourt on the Riviera
and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo in the severe winter months. He
had been an old patron of the beautiful Blue Coast. The Casino in Monte
Carlo, after the war, was in trouble. Its old owner, Camille Blanc,
somehow had lost touch with the changed world, particularly the changed
world of money. The Prince of Monaco, in whose domain the great Casino
nestled, wanted to get rid of Blanc, to bring in a business management
of the institution that supplied him with his revenue and his small
principality with its support. He approached Zaharoff and, for some
reason, the aging munitioneer was interested. He got hold of the shares
and, with the aid of the Prince, shouldered Blanc out of the place and
became its master. The Casino was a natural moneymaker. It called not
for any special magic but merely for money and a thorough business
administration. This Zaharoff supplied. He did not manage it himself. He
put in his own men. And it paid him golden dividends.
It was not altogether an unbecoming spot to end his strange career ?
this singular little nation of twenty thousand souls, living on a rock
in the Mediterranean, a Prince ruling the tiny entity with his little
army of a hundred and twenty men, a single business enterprise, the
Casino, paying all the bills, supporting most of the population. There
they ruled, two old nabobs ? one the civil despot, the other the
economic despot, owning the economic fountain out of which all the taxes
and wages of the place came; the Prince of Monaco and Sir Basil
Zaharoff, twin rulers in a comic-opera state that lived by gambling.
Zaharoff's wise administration brought him rich profits, and when he had
made enough and was weary of the business ? and perhaps of all business
? he sold out at a great profit.
Meantime on September 22, 1924, in the little village of Arronville
outside Paris, he and the Duchess of Villafranca, who had been his
unwedded consort for nearly forty years, were married. And then eighteen
months later, in 1926, his new wife, his affinity of forty years, died
at Balincourt. And this was the end of Zaharoff. The tedious business of
straightening out the affairs of Vickers had to be got through with.
This was done the next year.
After that Sir Basil Zaharoff continued to grow older, but did not die
until 1936. There came a time when he grew feeble and had to be wheeled
around Nice and Monte Carlo in a chair. What does such a man think,
sitting feebly in a chair, pushed around like an infant, as he surveys
the days of his power when he strode the earth like a titan, had his
hand on the wires in the ministries of Europe, and felt a hundred hills
shake in the roar of his cannon. Zaharoff's world was done, at least for
the time being. The armament makers had proved, beyond all peradventure
of doubt, the futility of their weapons and the folly of the regimes
upon which they flourished. Their whole crazy world had come down in
fragments around their ears. But then, after a brief interval of remorse
and penitence, as the old gun man grew grayer and feebler, the dark
industry he had helped to build got back its wind and its energy and
grew bigger and mightier than ever. In the year that he died, the gun
mills were grinding faster and more furiously than they were in 1913,
the nations that had slaughtered each other with the guns of Zaharoff
and company were preparing to repeat the crime with other and deadlier
weapons.
The munitions industry, of course, was and is nothing more than another
way of making money. Its techniques differ only in that its direct
customers are governments and its sales practices are adapted to that
necessity. Its dark sins have been in the region of selling. But even in
this, it has resembled many of those other industries that must find
their clients among public officials. It used bribery of officers,
penetration of cabinets and bureaus, intimacy with the powerful. All
these weapons Zaharoff knew how to employ with consummate skill. We find
him on terms of intimate collaboration at one time or another with the
most powerful men in the state ? with Clemenceau in France and Lloyd
George in Britain, with Briand, foreign minister, and, of course, with
war and navy ministers everywhere, with Venizelos in Greece and his
opponent Skouloudis, with Bratianu in Rumania, where also we find him
entertained by the Queen, who actually intercedes with him to assist the
tottering throne of Greece upon which her daughter sits as consort. Such
a man as Lord Sandhurst, Undersecretary of State for War in England, is
trustee for Vickers bonds, and Arthur Balfour is trustee for the bonds
of Vickers7 affiliate, Beardmore. In Paris, Zaharoff is a director of
the Bank of France.
It is this side of the munitions business that brings it into disfavor.
For it is not content to corrupt officials as public contractors do, but
mixes up in state policy to create disturbance. It flourishes only in a
world where hatreds and controversies, dynastic and economic and racial
and religious differences between peoples flourish. Hence it has spared
no pains to keep these mortal quarrels alive, to alarm peoples and
ministers with war scares, to breed suspicion and distrust. First among
all the practitioners of this dark art was Zaharoff. There is little
doubt that he loved the game. He was the troublemaker feeding upon
trouble ? the neighborhood provocateur raised to the dubious dignity of
free-lance statesman. Beaverbrook was right ? "The destinies of nations
were his sport; the movement of armies and the affairs of government his
special delight. In the wake of war this mysterious figure moved over
tortured Europe."
$30
He cared nothing for acclaim, apparently, or if he did he realized it
did not run well with his business. He did not advertise himself with
magnificence like Morgan or Krupp; he did not go in for pageantry like
William H. Vanderbilt or Fugger. He hired no shirt stuffers to blow up
his fame like the Rothschilds and Rockefeller. But he did find it
necessary to establish credentials of respectability and power. The name
Zaharoff was passed around coated with odium in more than one critical
period. And so he contrived at the proper moments to have put upon him
the hallmark of governments. In 1908 he was made a Knight of the Legion
of Honor in France. In 1913 he was promoted to be an Officer of the
Legion of Honor, having endowed a chair of aviation at the Sorbonne. The
next year, at the very hour when Paris police were thrown about his
house to guard him against the possible anger of the radical groups
because of the assassination of Jaures and when his lifework was about
to flower into the most murderous of all wars, he was raised to be a
Commander of the Legion of Honor. Then in 1918, before the war ended,
and doubtless to advance the ill-starred campaign he was organizing in
Asia Minor, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the British
Empire and became a Knight of the Bath ? Sir Basil Zaharoff. A little
later France again elevated him to the dignity of Grand Officer of the
Legion. She was not done with her eminent citizen. In 1919 he was given
the Grand Cross of the Legion, the highest decoration the republic had
to offer. Thus, two crosses gleamed upon his breast ? the cross of
Britain and the cross of France ? and, incidentally, the cross of
Christ, the Prince of Peace, upon the bosom of this angel of war and blood.
--
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http://quintaldo.wordpress.com/
files site:
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RVG
2008-11-29 18:34:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by quintal
Post by abourick
Grec orthodoxe par son ethnie, turc par sa nationalité d'origine, russe
par le nom qu'il s'est choisi, sa mentalité et ses intérêts économiques
et sa confession....?
la réelle, pas celle pour la galerie...
"As stated, Vickers was founded and financed by Sir Ernest Cassel,
friend and associate of Mr. Schiff, and another Jew, Sir Basil Zaharoff,
was prominent in it through the war."
c'est con hein... tellement prévisible.
http://www.the7thfire.com/new_world_order/zionism/a_short_history_of_the
_jews.htm
http://preview.tinyurl.com/5wnukp
C'était déjà dans le texte de bourricot:
"His people were Greeks who had lived in Constantinople, fled to
Odessa." Il n'aurait pas pu venir à l'idée d'un non-juif de fuir à
Odessa, ville à 100% juive (et belle réussite culturelle par ailleurs).
Post by quintal
Post by abourick
voici la sordide histoire de l'un des plus grands criminels des XIXe et
XXe siècle, le marchant de canon et faiseur de guerre Basil Zaharoff.
http://mises.org/story/2687
The Merchant of Death: Basil Zaharoff
Zacharias Basileios Zacharias ? later to be known as Basil Zaharoff ?
was born October 6, 1849, apparently in Mugla, near the Turkish capital
of Angora. His people were Greeks who had lived in Constantinople, fled
to Odessa
abourick
2008-11-29 18:38:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by quintal
Post by abourick
Grec orthodoxe par son ethnie, turc par sa nationalité d'origine, russe
par le nom qu'il s'est choisi, sa mentalité et ses intérêts économiques
et sa confession....?
la réelle, pas celle pour la galerie...
"As stated, Vickers was founded and financed by Sir Ernest Cassel,
friend and associate of Mr. Schiff, and another Jew, Sir Basil Zaharoff,
was prominent in it through the war."
c'est con hein... tellement prévisible.
http://www.the7thfire.com/new_world_order/zionism/a_short_history_of_the
_jews.htm
http://preview.tinyurl.com/5wnukp
Je parie que tu as de la documentation suffisante pour prouver que
n'importe quel terrien est juif.


Observe bien : nez à la grecque.

<Loading Image...>
quintal
2008-11-30 20:12:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by abourick
Post by quintal
Post by abourick
Grec orthodoxe par son ethnie, turc par sa nationalité d'origine, russe
par le nom qu'il s'est choisi, sa mentalité et ses intérêts économiques
et sa confession....?
la réelle, pas celle pour la galerie...
"As stated, Vickers was founded and financed by Sir Ernest Cassel,
friend and associate of Mr. Schiff, and another Jew, Sir Basil Zaharoff,
was prominent in it through the war."
c'est con hein... tellement prévisible.
http://www.the7thfire.com/new_world_order/zionism/a_short_history_of_the
_jews.htm
http://preview.tinyurl.com/5wnukp
Je parie que tu as de la documentation suffisante pour prouver que
n'importe quel terrien est juif.
j'ai google... et c'est pas une preuve, juste une affirmation dans un
bouquin "antisémite".
Post by abourick
Observe bien : nez à la grecque.
<http://www20.wissen.de/wde/generator/substanzen/bilder/sigmalink/z/za/zah_/zaharoff_sir_basileios_zacharias_1836962,property=inline.jpg>
--
blog:
http://quintaldo.wordpress.com/
files site:
http://www.divshare.com/download/5059726-d25
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