Lapse of Memory

"In 1913, Raymond Gram Swing got himself appointed Berlin correspondent of the Chicago Daily News. When the First World War began the twenty-seven-year-old reporter went direct to Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, the German Chancellor and explained the moral questions involved in waging war. Bethmann-Hollweg answered that Germany had no intention of annexing Belgium or any other territory. Swing asked if he could convey that statement to Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary. Bethmann-Hollweg granted this permission, adding, however, that if the Allies agreed to a peace they would have to pay an indemnity. Swing got the impression though, that this would not be insisted upon if he could actually make peace. He embarked for England where he was immediately received by Grey. Upon hearing the proposal of an indemnity Grey began what Swing described as 'a magnificent tirade.'

"It was so magnificent that Swing forgot to add that he thought the indemnity might not be insisted upon. Swing occasionally wonders, even now, whether his lapse of memory changed the world. He sometimes feels that if the First World War had ended in 1914 there might never have been a Bolshevic Revolution or a Treaty of Versailles, and that Fascism and the present World War might never have occurred."

[Athazagoraphobia is the fear of forgetting.]

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