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Germany and the Next War by Friedrich von Bernhardi

Part 5 out of 6

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a world policy if our political and military superiority on the
continent of Europe be immovably established. This goal is not yet
reached, and must be our first objective. Nevertheless, we must now take
steps to develop by sea also a power which is sufficient for our
pretensions. It is, on the one hand, indispensably necessary for the
full security of our Continental position that we guard our coasts and
repel oversea attacks. On the other hand, it is an absolute economic
necessity for us to protect the freedom of the seas--by arms if needs
be--since our people depend for livelihood on the export industry, and
this, again, requires a large import trade. The political greatness of
Germany rests not least on her flourishing economic life and her oversea
trade. The maintenance of the freedom of the seas must therefore be
always before our eyes as the object of all our naval constructions. Our
efforts must not be merely directed towards the necessary repulse of
hostile attacks; we must be conscious of the higher ideal, that we wish
to follow an effective world policy, and that our naval power is destined
ultimately to support this world policy.

Unfortunately, we did not adopt this view at the start, when we first
ventured on the open sea. Much valuable time was wasted in striving for
limited and insufficient objects. The Emperor William II. was destined
to be the first to grasp this question in its bearing on the world's
history, and to treat it accordingly. All our earlier naval activity
must be set down as fruitless.

We have been busied for years in building a fleet. Most varied
considerations guided our policy. A clear, definite programme was first
drawn up by the great Naval Act of 1900, the supplementary laws of 1906,
and the regulations as to the life of the ships in 1908. It is, of
course, improbable that the last word has been said on the subject. The
needs of the future will decide, since there can be no certain standard
for the naval forces which a State may require: that depends on the
claims which are put forward, and on the armaments of the other nations.
At first the only object was to show our flag on the sea and on the
coasts on which we traded. The first duty of the fleet was to safeguard
this commerce. Opposition to the great outlay thus necessitated was soon
shown by a party which considered a fleet not merely superfluous for
Germany, but actually dangerous, and objected to the plans of the
Government, which they stigmatized as boundless. Another party was
content with a simple scheme of coast-protection only, and thought this
object attained if some important points on the coast were defended by
artillery and cheap flotillas of gunboats were stationed at various places.

This view was not long maintained. All discerning persons were convinced
of the necessity to face and drive back an aggressive rival on the high
seas. It was recognized that ironclads were needed for this, since the
aggressor would have them at his disposal. But this policy, it was
thought, could be satisfied by half-measures. The so-called
_Ausfallkorvetten_ were sanctioned, but emphasis was laid on the fact
that we were far from wishing to compete with the existing large navies,
and that we should naturally be content with a fleet of the second rank.
This standpoint was soon recognized to be untenable, and there was a
fresh current of feeling, whose adherents supported the view that the
costly ironclads could be made superfluous by building in their place a
large number of torpedo-boats. These, in spite of their small fighting
capacity, would be able to attack the strongest ironclads by well-aimed
torpedoes. It was soon realized that this theory rested on a
fallacy--that a country like the German Empire, which depends on an
extensive foreign trade in order to find work and food for its growing
population, and, besides, is hated everywhere because of its political
and economic prosperity, could not forego a strong armament at sea and
on its coasts. At last a standpoint had been reached which corresponded
with actual needs.

The different abortive attempts to solve the navy question in the most
inexpensive manner have cost us much money and, above all, as already
stated, much time; so that, at the present day, when we stand in the
midst of a great crisis in the world's history, we must summon all our
strength to make up for lost opportunities, and to build a thoroughly
effective ocean-going fleet of warships in addition to an adequate guard
for our coasts. We have at last come to see that the protection of our
commerce and the defence of our shores cannot possibly be the only
object of such a fleet, but that it, like the land army, is an
instrument for carrying out the political ends of the State and
supporting its justifiable ambitions. There can be no question of such
limited objects as protection of commerce and passive coast defence. A
few cruisers are enough to protect commerce in times of peace; but in
war the only way to safeguard it is to defeat and, where possible,
destroy the hostile fleet. A direct protection of all trade lines is
obviously impossible. Commerce can only be protected indirectly by the
defeat of the enemy. A passive defence of the coast can never count on
permanent success. The American War of Secession, amongst others, showed
that sufficiently.

The object of our fleet, therefore, is to defeat our possible rivals at
sea, and force them to make terms, in order to guarantee unimpeded
commerce to our merchantmen and to protect our colonies.

It is therefore an erroneous idea that our fleet exists merely for
defence, and must be built with that view. It is intended to meet our
political needs, and must therefore be capable of being employed
according to the exigencies of the political position; on the offensive,
when the political situation demands it, and an attack promises success;
on the defensive, when we believe that more advantages can be obtained
in this way. At the present day, indeed, the political grouping of the
Great Powers makes a strategical offensive by sea an impossibility. We
must, however, reckon with the future, and then circumstances may arise
which would render possible an offensive war on a large scale.

The strength which we wish to give to our fleet must therefore be
calculated with regard to its probable duties in war. It is obvious that
we must not merely consider the possible opponents who at the moment are
weaker than we are, but rather, and principally, those who are stronger,
unless we were in the position to avoid a conflict with them under all
circumstances. Our fleet must in any case be so powerful that our
strongest antagonist shrinks from attacking us without convincing
reasons. If he determines to attack us, we must have at least a chance
of victoriously repelling this attack--in other words, of inflicting
such heavy loss on the enemy that he will decline in his own interests
to carry on the war to the bitter end, and that he will see his own
position threatened if he exposes himself to these losses.

This conception of our duty on the sea points directly to the fact that
the English fleet must set the standard by which to estimate the
necessary size of our naval preparations. A war with England is probably
that which we shall first have to fight out by sea; the possibility of
victoriously repelling an English attack must be the guiding principle
for our naval preparations; and if the English continuously increase
their fleet, we must inevitably follow them on the same road, even
beyond the limits of our present Naval Estimates.

We must not, however, forget that it will not be possible for us for
many years to attack on the open sea the far superior English fleet. We
may only hope, by the combination of the fleet with the coast
fortifications, the airfleet, and the commercial war, to defend
ourselves successfully against this our strongest opponent, as was shown
in the chapter on the next naval war. The enemy must be wearied out and
exhausted by the enforcement of the blockade, and by fighting against
all the expedients which we shall employ for the defence of our coast;
our fleet, under the protection of these expedients, will continually
inflict partial losses on him, and thus gradually we shall be able to
challenge him to a pitched battle on the high seas. These are the lines
that our preparation for war must follow. A strong coast fortress as a
base for our fleet, from which it can easily and at any moment take the
offensive, and on which the waves of the hostile superiority can break
harmlessly, is the recognized and necessary preliminary condition for
this class of war. Without such a trustworthy coast fortress, built with
a view to offensive operations, our fleet could be closely blockaded by
the enemy, and prevented from any offensive movements. Mines alone
cannot close the navigation so effectively that the enemy cannot break
through, nor can they keep it open in such a way that we should be able
to adopt the offensive under all circumstances. For this purpose
permanent works are necessary which command the navigation and allow
mines to be placed.

I cannot decide the question whether our coast defence, which in the
North Sea is concentrated in Heligoland and Borkum, corresponds to these
requirements. If it is not so, then our first most serious duty must be
to fill up the existing gaps, in order to create an assured base for our
naval operations. This is a national duty which we dare not evade,
although it demands great sacrifices from us. Even the further
development of our fleet, important as that is, would sink into the
background as compared with the urgency of this duty, because its only
action against the English fleet which holds out any prospect of success
presupposes the existence of some such fortress.

But the question must be looked at from another aspect.

The Morocco negotiations in the summer of 1911 displayed the
unmistakable hostility of England to us. They showed that England is
determined to hinder by force any real expansion of Germany's power.
Only the fear of the possible intervention of England deterred us from
claiming a sphere of interests of our own in Morocco, and, nevertheless,
the attempt to assert our unquestionable rights in North Africa provoked
menacing utterances from various English statesmen.

If we consider this behaviour in connection with England's military
preparations, there can be no doubt that England seriously contemplates
attacking Germany should the occasion arise. The concentration of the
English naval forces in the North Sea, the feverish haste to increase
the English fleet, the construction of new naval stations, undisguisedly
intended for action against Germany, of which we have already spoken;
the English _espionage_, lately vigorously practised, on the German
coasts, combined with continued attempts to enlist allies against us and
to isolate us in Europe--all this can only be reasonably interpreted as
a course of preparation for an aggressive war. At any rate, it is quite
impossible to regard the English preparations as defensive and
protective measures only; for the English Government knows perfectly
well that Germany cannot think of attacking England: such an attempt
would be objectless from the first. Since the destruction of the German
naval power lies in the distinct interests of England and her schemes
for world empire, we must reckon at least with the possibility of an
English attack. We must make it clear to ourselves that we are not able
to postpone this attack as we wish. It has been already mentioned that
the recent attitude of Italy may precipitate a European crisis; we must
make up our minds, then, that England will attack us on some pretext or
other soon, before the existing balance of power, which is very
favourable for England, is shifted possibly to her disadvantage.
Especially, if the Unionist party comes into power again, must we reckon
upon a strong English Imperial policy which may easily bring about war.

Under these circumstances we cannot complete our armament by sea and our
coast defences in peaceful leisure, in accordance with theoretical
principles. On the contrary, we must strain our financial resources in
order to carry on, and if possible to accelerate, the expansion of our
fleet, together with the fortification of our coast. It would be
justifiable, under the conditions, to meet our financial requirements by
loans, if no other means can be found; for here questions of the
greatest moment are at stake--questions, it may fairly be said, of

Let us imagine the endless misery which a protracted stoppage or
definite destruction of our oversea trade would bring upon the whole
nation, and, in particular, on the masses of the industrial classes who
live on our export trade. This consideration by itself shows the
absolute necessity of strengthening our naval forces in combination with
our coast defences so thoroughly that we can look forward to the
decisive campaign with equanimity. Even the circumstance that we cannot,
perhaps, find crews at once for the ships which we are building need not
check the activity of our dockyards; for these ships will be valuable to
replace the loss in vessels which must occur in any case.

The rapid completion of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Canal is of great importance,
in order that our largest men-of-war may appear unexpectedly in the
Baltic or in the North Sea. But it does not meet all military
requirements. It is a question whether it is not expedient to obtain
secure communication by a canal between the mouth of the Ems, the Bay of
Jahde, and the mouth of the Elbe, in order to afford our fleet more
possibilities of concentration. All three waters form a sally-port in
the North Sea, and it would be certainly a great advantage if our
battleships could unexpectedly unite in these three places. I cannot
give any opinion as to the feasibility of this scheme. If it is
feasible, we ought to shirk no sacrifices to realize it. Such a canal
might prove of decisive value, since our main prospect of success
depends on our ability to break up the forces of the enemy by continuous
unexpected attacks, and on our thus finding an opportunity to inflict
heavy losses upon him.

As regards the development of the fleet itself, we must push on the
completion of our battle-fleet, which consists of ships of the line and
the usual complement of large cruisers. It does not possess in its
present condition an effective value in proportion to its numbers. There
can be no doubt on this point. Five of the ships of the line, of the
Kaiser class, are quite obsolete, and the vessels of the Wittelsbach
class carry as heaviest guns only 24-centimetre cannons, which must be
considered quite inadequate for a sea-battle of to-day. We are in a
worse plight with regard to our large cruisers. The five ships of the
Hansa class have no fighting value; the three large cruisers of the
Prince class (_Adalbert, Friedrich Karl, Heinrich_) fulfil their purpose
neither in speed, effective range, armament, nor armour-plating. Even
the armoured cruisers _Fuerst Bismarck, Roon, York, Gneisenau,_ and
_Scharnhorst_ do not correspond in any respect to modern requirements.
If we wish, therefore, to be really ready for a war, we must shorten the
time allowed for building, and replace as rapidly as possible these
totally useless vessels--nine large cruisers and five battleships--by
new and thoroughly effective ships.

Anyone who regards the lowering thunder-clouds on the political horizon
will admit this necessity. The English may storm and protest ever so
strongly: care for our country must stand higher than all political and
all financial considerations. We must create new types of battleships,
which may be superior to the English in speed and fighting qualities.
That is no light task, for the most modern English ships of the line
have reached a high stage of perfection, and the newest English cruisers
are little inferior in fighting value to the battleships proper. But
superiority in individual units, together with the greatest possible
readiness for war, are the only means by which a few ships can be made
to do, at any rate, what is most essential. Since the Krupp guns possess
a certain advantage--which is not, in fact, very great--over the English
heavy naval guns, it is possible to gain a start in this department, and
to equip our ships with superior attacking power. A more powerful
artillery is a large factor in success, which becomes more marked the
more it is possible to distribute the battery on the ship in such a way
that all the guns may be simultaneously trained to either side or
straight ahead.

Besides the battle-fleet proper, the torpedo-boats play a prominent part
in strategic offence and defence alike. The torpedo-fleet,
therefore--especially having regard to the crushing superiority of
England--requires vigorous encouragement, and all the more so because,
so far, at least, as training goes, we possess a true factor of
superiority in them. In torpedo-boats we are, thanks to the high
standard of training in the _personnel_ and the excellence of
construction, ahead of all other navies. We must endeavour to keep this
position, especially as regards the torpedoes, in which, according to
the newspaper accounts, other nations are competing with us, by trying
to excel us in range of the projectile at high velocity. We must also
devote our full attention to submarines, and endeavour to make these
vessels more effective in attack. If we succeed in developing this
branch of our navy, so that it meets the military requirements in every
direction, and combines an increased radius of effectiveness with
increased speed and seaworthiness, we shall achieve great results with
these vessels in the defence of our coasts and in unexpected attacks on
the enemy's squadrons. A superior efficiency in this field would be
extraordinarily advantageous to us.

Last, not least, we must devote ourselves more energetically to the
development of aviation for naval purposes. If it were possible to make
airships and flying-machines thoroughly available for war, so that they
could be employed in unfavourable weather and for aggressive purposes,
they might render essential services to the fleet. The air-fleet would
then, as already explained in Chapter VIII., be able to report
successfully, to spy out favourable opportunities for attacks by the
battle-fleet or the torpedo-fleet, and to give early notice of the
approach of the enemy in superior force. It would also be able to
prevent the enemy's airships from reconnoitring, and would thus
facilitate the execution of surprise attacks. Again, it could repulse or
frustrate attacks on naval depots and great shipping centres. If our
airships could only be so largely developed that they, on their side,
could undertake an attack and carry fear and destruction to the English
coasts, they would lend still more effective aid to our fleet when
fighting against the superior force of the enemy. It can hardly be
doubted that technical improvements will before long make it possible to
perform such services. A pronounced superiority of our air-fleet over
the English would contribute largely to equalize the difference in
strength of the two navies more and more during the course of the war.
It should be the more possible to gain a superiority in this field
because our supposed enemies have not any start on us, and we can
compete for the palm of victory on equal terms.

Besides the campaign against the enemy's war-fleet, preparations must be
carefully made in peace-time for the war on commerce, which would be
especially effective in a struggle against England, as that country
needs imports more than any other. Consequently great results would
follow if we succeeded in disturbing the enemy's commerce and harassing
his navigation. The difficulties of such an undertaking have been
discussed in a previous chapter. It is all the more imperative to
organize our preparations in such a way that the swift ships intended
for the commercial war should be able to reach their scene of activity
unexpectedly before the enemy has been able to block our harbours. The
auxiliary cruisers must be so equipped in peace-time that when on the
open sea they may assume the character of warships at a moment's notice,
when ordered by wireless telegraphy to do so.

A rapid mobilization is especially important in the navy, since we must
be ready for a sudden attack at any time, possibly in time of peace.
History tells us what to expect from the English on this head.

In the middle of peace they bombarded Copenhagen from September 2 to
September 5, 1807, and carried off the Danish fleet. Four hundred houses
were burnt, 2,000 damaged, 3,000 peaceful and innocent inhabitants were
killed. If some explanation, though no justification, of the conduct of
England is seen in the lawlessness of all conditions then existing, and
in the equally ruthless acts of Napoleon, still the occurrence shows
distinctly of what measures England is capable if her command of the
seas is endangered. And this practice has not been forgotten. On July 11
and 12, 1882, exactly thirty years ago, Alexandria was similarly
bombarded in peace-time, and Egypt occupied by the English under the
hypocritical pretext that Arabi Pasha had ordered a massacre of the
foreigners. The language of such historical facts is clear. It is well
not to forget them.

The Russo-Japanese War also is a warning how modern wars begin; so also
Italy, with her political and military attack on Turkey. Turkish ships,
suspecting nothing of war, were attacked and captured by the Italians.

Now, it must not be denied that such a method of opening a campaign as
was adopted by Japan and Italy may be justified under certain
conditions. The interests of the State may turn the scale. The brutal
violence shown to a weak opponent, such as is displayed in the
above-described English procedure, has nothing in common with a course
of action politically justifiable.

A surprise attack, in order to be justified, must be made in the first
place only on the armed forces of the hostile State, not on peaceful
inhabitants. A further necessary preliminary condition is that the
tension of the political situation brings the possibility or probability
of a war clearly before the eyes of both parties, so that an expectation
of, and preparations for, war can be assumed. Otherwise the attack
becomes a treacherous crime. If the required preliminary conditions are
granted, then a political _coup_ is as justifiable as a surprise attack
in warfare, since it tries to derive advantage from an unwarrantable
carelessness of the opponent. A definite principle of right can never be
formulated in this question, since everything depends on the views taken
of the position, and these may be very divergent among the parties
concerned. History alone can pass a final verdict on the conduct of
States. But in no case can a formal rule of right in such
cases--especially when a question of life or death is depending on it,
as was literally the fact in the Manchurian War as regards Japan--limit
the undoubted right of the State. If Japan had not obtained from the
very first the absolute command of the seas, the war with Russia would
have been hopeless. She was justified, therefore, in employing the most
extreme measures. No such interests were at stake for England either in
1807 or 1882, and Italy's proceedings in 1911 are certainly doubtful
from the standpoint of political morality.

These examples, however, show what we may expect from England, and we
must be the more prepared to find her using this right to attack without
warning, since we also may be under the necessity of using this right.
Our mobilization preparations must therefore be ready for all such
eventualities, especially in the period after the dismissal of the

Public policy forbids any discussion of the steps that must be taken to
secure that our fleet is ready for war during this time. Under all
circumstances, however, our coast defences must be continuously ready
for fighting, and permanently garrisoned in times of political tension.
The mines must also be prepared for action without delay. The whole
_materiel_ requisite for the purpose must be on the spot ready for
instant use. So, too, all measures for the protection of commerce at the
mouths of our rivers and in the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal must be put in
force directly the situation becomes strained. This is a mere simple
precept of self-protection. We must also attach as much importance to
the observation and intelligence service on our coasts in peace-time as
is done in England.

When we realize in their entirety the mass of preparations which are
required for the maintenance of our place among the Great Powers by the
navy, we see that extraordinarily exacting demands will be made on the
resources of our people. These weigh the heavier for the moment, since
the crisis of the hour forces us to quite exceptional exertions, and the
expenditure on the fleet must go hand-in-hand, with very energetic
preparations on land. If we do not possess the strength or the
self-devotion to meet this twofold demand, the increase of the fleet
must be delayed, and we must restrict ourselves to bringing our coast
defences to such a pitch of completeness as will meet all our
requirements. Any acceleration in our ship-building would have to be
provisionally dropped.

In opposition to this view, it is urged from one quarter that we should
limit our fortification of the coast to what is absolutely necessary,
devote _all_ our means to developing the fleet, and lay the greatest
stress on the number of the ships and their readiness for war, even in
case of the reserve fleet. This view starts from the presupposition
that, in face of so strong and well-equipped a fleet as the Naval Act
contemplates for Germany, England would never resolve to declare war on
us. It is also safe to assume that a fleet built expressly on uniform
tactical principles represents a more powerful fighting force than we
have to-day in an equal number of heterogeneous battleships.

I cannot myself, however, endorse this view. On the one hand, it is to
be feared that the fighting strength of the hostile fleets increases
quicker than that of ours; on the other hand, I believe that the general
situation makes war with England inevitable, even if our naval force in
the shortest time reaches its statutory strength in modern men-of-war.
My view, therefore, is that we must first of all lay the solid
foundation without which any successful action against the superior
forces of the enemy is unthinkable. Should the coast fortifications fail
to do what is expected from them, success is quite impossible.

It is, however, all the more our duty to spare no sacrifices to carry
out _both_ objects--the enlargement of the fleet, as well as whatever
may still be necessary to the perfecting of our coast defences. Though
this latter point calls for the first attention, the great necessity for
the navy admits of no doubt. If we do not to-day stake everything on
strengthening our fleet, to insure at least the possibility of a
successful war, and if we once more allow our probable opponent to gain
a start which it will be scarcely possible to make up in the future, we
must renounce for many years to come any place among the World Powers.

Under these circumstances, no one who cherishes German sentiments and
German hopes will advocate a policy of renunciation. On the contrary, we
must try not only to prosecute simultaneously the fortification of the
coast and the development of the fleet, but we must so accelerate the
pace of our ship-building that the requirements of the Naval Act will be
met by 1914--a result quite possible according to expert opinion.

The difficult plight in which we are to-day, as regards our readiness
for war, is due to two causes in the past. It has been produced in the
first place because, from love of the pleasures of peace, we have in the
long years since the founding of the German Empire neglected to define
and strengthen our place among the Powers of Europe, and to win a free
hand in world politics, while around us the other Powers were growing
more and more threatening. It was, in my opinion, the most serious
mistake in German policy that a final settling of accounts with France
was not effected at a time when the state of international affairs was
favourable and success might confidently have been expected. There has,
indeed, been no lack of opportunities. We have only our policy of peace
and renunciation to thank for the fact that we are placed in this
difficult position, and are confronted by the momentous choice between
resigning all claim to world power or disputing this claim against
numerically superior enemies. This policy somewhat resembles the
supineness for which England has herself to blame, when she refused her
assistance to the Southern States in the American War of Secession, and
thus allowed a Power to arise in the form of the United States of North
America, which already, although barely fifty years have elapsed,
threatens England's own position as a World Power. But the consequences
of our peace policy hit us harder than England has suffered under her
former American policy. The place of Great Britain as a Great Power is
far more secured by her insular position and her command of the seas
than ours, which is threatened on all sides by more powerful enemies. It
is true that one cannot anticipate success in any war with certainty,
and there was always the possibility during the past forty years that we
might not succeed in conquering France as effectually as we would have
wished. This uncertainty is inseparable from every war. Neither in 1866
nor in 1870 could Bismarck foresee the degree of success which would
fall to him, but he dared to fight. The greatness of the statesman is
shown when at the most favourable moment he has the courage to undertake
what is the necessary and, according to human calculation, the best
course. Just Fate decides the issue.

The second cause of our present position is to be seen in the fact that
we started to build our fleet too late. The chief mistake which we have
made is that, after the year 1889, when we roused ourselves to vote the
Brandenburg type of ship, we sank back until 1897 into a period of
decadence, while complete lack of system prevailed in all matters
concerning the fleet. We have also begun far too late to develop
systematically our coast defences, so that the most essential duties
which spring out of the political situation are unfulfilled, since we
have not foreseen this situation nor prepared for it.

This experience must be a lesson to us in the future. We must never let
the petty cares and needs of the moment blind us to the broad views
which must determine our world policy. We must always adopt in good time
those measures which are seen to be necessary for the future, even
though they make heavy financial calls on our resources.

This is the point of view that we must keep in mind with regard to our
naval armament. Even at the eleventh hour we may make up a little for
lost time. It will be a heinous mistake if we do not perform this duty



The policy of peace and restraint has brought us to a position in which
we can only assert our place among the Great Powers and secure the
conditions of life for the future by the greatest expenditure of
treasure and, so far as human conjecture can go, of blood. We shall be
compelled, therefore, to adopt, without a moment's delay, special
measures which will enable us to be more or less a match for our
enemies--I mean accelerated ship-building and rapid increase of the
army. We must always bear in mind in the present that we have to provide
for the future.

Apart from the requirements of the moment, we must never forget to
develop the elements on which not only our military strength, but also
the political power of the State ultimately rest. We must maintain the
physical and mental health of the nation, and this can only be done if
we aim at a progressive development of popular education in the widest
sense, corresponding to the external changes in the conditions and
demands of existence.

While it is the duty of the State to guide her citizens to the highest
moral and mental development, on the other hand the elements of
strength, rooted in the people, react upon the efficiency of the State.
Only when supported by the strong, unanimous will of the nation can the
State achieve really great results; she is therefore doubly interested
in promoting the physical and mental growth of the nation. Her duty and
her justification consist in this endeavour, for she draws from the
fulfilment of this duty the strength and capacity to be in the highest
sense true to it.

It is, under present conditions, expedient also from the merely military
standpoint to provide not only for the healthy physical development of
our growing youth, but also to raise its intellectual level. For while
the demands which modern war makes have increased in every direction,
the term of service has been shortened in order to make enlistment in
very great numbers possible. Thus the full consummation of military
training cannot be attained unless recruits enter the army well equipped
physically and mentally, and bringing with them patriotic sentiments
worthy of the honourable profession of arms.

We have already shown in a previous chapter how important it is to raise
the culture of the officers and non-commissioned officers to the best of
our power, in order to secure not only a greater and more independent
individual efficiency, but also a deeper and more lasting influence on
the men; but this influence of the superiors must always remain limited
if it cannot count on finding in the men a receptive and intelligent
material. This fact is especially clear when we grasp the claims which
modern war will make on the individual fighter. In order to meet these
demands fully, the people must be properly educated.

Each individual must, in modern warfare, display a large measure of
independent judgment, calm grasp of the facts, and bold resolution. In
the open methods of fighting, the infantryman, after his appointed duty
has been assigned him, is to a great degree thrown on his own resources;
he may often have to take over the command of his own section if the
losses among his superiors are heavy. The artilleryman will have to work
his gun single-handed when the section leaders and gun captains have
fallen victims to the shrapnel fire; the patrols and despatch-riders are
often left to themselves in the middle of the enemy's country; and the
sapper, who is working against a counter-mine, will often find himself
unexpectedly face to face with the enemy, and has no resource left
beyond his own professional knowledge and determination.

But not only are higher claims made on the independent responsibility of
the individual in modern warfare, but the strain on the physique will
probably be far greater in the future than in previous wars. This change
is due partly to the large size of the armies, partly to the greater
efficiency of the firearms. All movements in large masses are more
exacting in themselves than similar movements in small detachments,
since they are never carried out so smoothly. The shelter and food of
great masses can never be so good as with smaller bodies; the depth of
the marching columns, which increases with the masses, adds to the
difficulties of any movements--abbreviated rest at night, irregular
hours for meals, unusual times for marching, etc. The increased range of
modern firearms extends the actual fighting zone, and, in combination
with the larger fronts, necessitates wide detours whenever the troops
attempt enveloping movements or other changes of position on the

In the face of these higher demands, the amount of work done in the army
has been enormously increased. The State, however, has done little to
prepare our young men better for military service, while tendencies are
making themselves felt in the life of the people which exercise a very
detrimental influence on their education. I specially refer to the
ever-growing encroachments of a social-democratic, anti-patriotic
feeling, and, hand-in-hand with this, the flocking of the population
into the large towns, which is unfavourable to physical development.
This result is clearly shown by the enlistment statistics. At the
present day, out of all the German-born military units, over 6.14 per
cent. come from the large towns, 7.37 per cent, from the medium-sized
towns, 22.34 per cent. from the small or country towns, and 64.15 per
cent. from the rural districts; while the distribution of the population
between town and country is quite different. According to the census of
1905, the rural population amounted to 42.5 per cent., the small or
country towns to 25.5 per cent., the medium-sized towns to 12.9 per
cent., and the large towns to 19.1 per cent. of the entire number of
inhabitants. The proportion has probably changed since that year still
more unfavourably for the rural population, while the large towns have
increased in population. These figures clearly show the physical
deterioration of the town population, and signify a danger to our
national life, not merely in respect of physique, but in the intellect
and compact unity of the nation. The rural population forms part and
parcel of the army. A thousand bonds unite the troops and the families
of their members, so far as they come from the country; everyone who
studies the inner life of our army is aware of this. The interest felt
in the soldier's life is intense. It is the same spirit, transmitted
from one to another. The relation of the army to the population of the
great cities which send a small and ever-diminishing fraction of their
sons into the army is quite different. A certain opposition exists
between the population of the great cities and the country-folk, who,
from a military point of view, form the backbone of the nation.
Similarly, the links between the army and the large towns have loosened,
and large sections of the population in the great cities are absolutely
hostile to the service.

It is in the direct interests of the State to raise the physical health
of the town population by all imaginable means, not only in order to
enable more soldiers to be enlisted, but to bring the beneficial effect
of military training more extensively to bear on the town population,
and so to help to make our social conditions more healthy. Nothing
promotes unity of spirit and sentiment like the comradeship of military

So far as I can judge, it is not factory work alone in itself which
exercises a detrimental effect on the physical development and, owing to
its monotony, on the mental development also, but the general conditions
of life, inseparable from such work, are prejudicial. Apart from many
forms of employment in factories which are directly injurious to health,
the factors which stunt physical development may be found in the housing
conditions, in the pleasure-seeking town life, and in alcoholism. This
latter vice is far more prevalent in the large cities than in the rural
districts, and, in combination with the other influences of the great
city, produces far more harmful results.

It is therefore the unmistakable duty of the State, first, to fight
alcoholism with every weapon, if necessary by relentlessly taxing all
kinds of alcoholic drinks, and by strictly limiting the right to sell
them; secondly, most emphatic encouragement must be given to all efforts
to improve the housing conditions of the working population, and to
withdraw the youth of the towns from the ruinous influences of a life of
amusements. In Munich, Bavarian officers have recently made a
praiseworthy attempt to occupy the leisure time of the young men past
the age of attendance at school with health-producing military
exercises. The young men's clubs which Field-Marshal v.d. Goltz is
trying to establish aim at similar objects. Such undertakings ought to
be vigorously carried out in every large town, and supported by the
State, from purely physical as well as social considerations. The
gymnastic instruction in the schools and gymnastic clubs has an
undoubtedly beneficial effect on physical development, and deserves
every encouragement; finally, on these grounds, as well as all others,
the system of universal service should have been made an effective
reality. It is literally amazing to notice the excellent effect of
military service on the physical development of the recruits. The
authorities in charge of the reserves should have been instructed to
make the population of the great cities serve in larger numbers than

On the other hand, a warning must, in my opinion, be issued against two
tendencies: first, against the continual curtailing of the working hours
for factory hands and artisans; and, secondly, against crediting sport
with an exaggerated value for the national health. As already pointed
out, it is usually not the work itself, but the circumstances attendant
on working together in large numbers that are prejudicial.

The wish to shorten the working hours on principle, except to a moderate
degree, unless any exceptionally unfavourable conditions of work are
present, is, in my opinion, an immoral endeavour, and a complete
miscomprehension of the real value of work. It is in itself the greatest
blessing which man knows, and ill betide the nation which regards it no
longer as a moral duty, but as the necessary means of earning a
livelihood and paying for amusements. Strenuous labour alone produces
men and characters, and those nations who have been compelled to win
their living in a continuous struggle against a rude climate have often
achieved the greatest exploits, and shown the greatest vitality.

So long as the Dutch steeled their strength by unremitting conflict with
the sea, so long as they fought for religious liberty against the
Spanish supremacy, they were a nation of historical importance; now,
when they live mainly for money-making and enjoyment, and lead a
politically neutral existence, without great ambitions or great wars,
their importance has sunk low, and will not rise again until they take a
part in the struggle of the civilized nations. In Germany that stock
which was destined to bring back our country from degradation to
historical importance did not grow up on the fertile banks of the Rhine
or the Danube, but on the sterile sands of the March.

We must preserve the stern, industrious, old-Prussian feeling, and carry
the rest of Germany with us to Kant's conception of life; we must
continuously steel our strength by great political and economic
endeavours, and must not be content with what we have already attained,
or abandon ourselves to the indolent pursuit of pleasure; thus only we
shall remain healthy in mind and body, and able to keep our place in the

Where Nature herself does not compel hard toil, or where with growing
wealth wide sections of the people are inclined to follow a life of
pleasure rather than of work, society and the State must vie in taking
care that work does not become play, or play work. It is work, regarded
as a duty, that forges men, not fanciful play. Sport, which is spreading
more and more amongst us too, must always remain a means of recreation,
not an end in itself, if it is to be justified at all. We must never
forget this. Hard, laborious work has made Germany great; in England, on
the contrary, sport has succeeded in maintaining the physical health of
the nation; but by becoming exaggerated and by usurping the place of
serious work it has greatly injured the English nation. The English
nation, under the influence of growing wealth, a lower standard of
labour efficiency--which, indeed, is the avowed object of the English
trades unions--and of the security of its military position, has more
and more become a nation of gentlemen at ease and of sportsmen, and it
may well be asked whether, under these conditions, England will show
herself competent for the great duties which she has taken on herself in
the future. If, further, the political rivalry with the great and
ambitious republic in America be removed by an Arbitration Treaty, this
circumstance might easily become the boundary-stone where the roads to
progress and to decadence divide, in spite of all sports which develop

The physical healthiness of a nation has no permanent value, unless it
comes from work and goes hand-in-hand with spiritual development; while,
if the latter is subordinated to material and physical considerations,
the result must be injurious in the long-run.

We must not therefore be content to educate up for the army a physically
healthy set of young men by elevating the social conditions and the
whole method of life of our people, but we must also endeavour to
promote their spiritual development in every way. The means for doing so
is the school. Military education under the present-day conditions,
which are continually becoming more severe, can only realize its aims
satisfactorily if a groundwork has been laid for it in the schools, and
an improved preliminary training has been given to the raw material.

The national school is not sufficient for this requirement. The general
regulations which settle the national school system in Prussia date from
the year 1872, and are thus forty years old, and do not take account of
the modern development which has been so rapid of late years. It is only
natural that a fundamental opposition exists between them and the
essentials of military education. Present-day military education
requires complete individualization and a conscious development of manly
feeling; in the national school everything is based on teaching in
classes, and there is no distinction between the sexes. This is directly
prescribed by the rules.

In the army the recruits are taught under the superintendence of the
superiors by specially detached officers and selected experienced
non-commissioned officers; and even instruction is given them in quite
small sections; while each one receives individual attention from the
non-commissioned officers of his section and the higher superior
officers. In a school, on the contrary, the master is expected to teach
as many as eighty scholars at a time; in a school with two teachers as
many as 120 children are divided into two classes. A separation of the
sexes is only recommended in a school of several classes. As a rule,
therefore, the instruction is given in common. It is certain that, under
such conditions, no insight into the personality of the individual is
possible. All that is achieved is to impart more or less mechanically
and inefficiently a certain amount of information in some branch of
knowledge, without any consideration of the special dispositions of boys
and girls, still less of individuals.

Such a national school can obviously offer no preparation for a military
education. The principles which regulate the teaching in the two places
are quite different. That is seen in the whole tendency of the instruction.

The military education aims at training the moral personality to
independent thought and action, and at the same time rousing patriotic
feelings among the men. Instruction in a sense of duty and in our
national history thus takes a foremost place by the side of professional
teaching. Great attention is given to educate each individual in logical
reasoning and in the clear expression of his thoughts.

In the national school these views are completely relegated to the
background--not, of course, as a matter of intention and theory, but as
the practical result of the conditions. The chief stress in such a
school is laid on formal religious instruction, and on imparting some
facility in reading, writing, and ciphering. The so-called _Realign_
(history, geography, natural history, natural science) fall quite into
the background. Only six out of thirty hours of instruction weekly are
devoted to all the _Realien_ in the middle and upper standards; in the
lower standards they are ignored altogether, while four to five hours
are assigned to religious instruction in every standard. There is no
idea of any deliberate encouragement of patriotism. Not a word in the
General Regulations suggests that any weight is to be attached to this;
and while over two pages are filled with details of the methods of
religious instruction, history, which is especially valuable for the
development of patriotic sentiments, is dismissed in ten lines. As for
influencing the character and the reasoning faculties of the scholars to
any extent worth mentioning, the system of large classes puts it
altogether out of the question.

While the allotment of subjects to the hours available for instruction
is thus very one-sided, the system on which instruction is given,
especially in religious matters, is also unsatisfactory. Beginning with
the lower standard onwards (that is to say, the children of six years),
stories not only from the New Testament, but also from the Old Testament
are drummed into the heads of the scholars. Similarly every Saturday the
portions of Scripture appointed for the next Sunday are read out and
explained to all the children. Instruction in the Catechism begins also
in the lower standard, from the age of six onwards; the children must
learn some twenty hymns by heart, besides various prayers. It is a
significant fact that it has been found necessary expressly to forbid
"the memorizing of the General Confession and other parts of the
liturgical service," as "also the learning by heart of the Pericopes."
On the other hand, the institution of Public Worship is to be explained
to the children. This illustrates the spirit in which this instruction
has to be imparted according to the regulations.

It is really amazing to read these regulations. The object of
Evangelical religious instruction is to introduce the children "to the
comprehension of the Holy Scriptures and to the creed of the
congregation," in order that they "may be enabled to read the Scriptures
independently and to take an active part both in the life and the
religious worship of the congregation." Requirements are laid down which
entirely abandon the task of making the subject suitable to the
comprehension of children from six to fourteen years of age, and
presuppose a range of ideas totally beyond their age. Not a word,
however, suggests that the real meaning of religion--its influence, that
is, on the moral conduct of man--should be adequately brought into
prominence. The teacher is not urged by a single syllable to impress
religious ideas on the receptive child-mind; the whole course of
instruction, in conformity with regulations, deals with a formal
religiosity, which is quite out of touch with practical life, and if not
deliberately, at least in result, renounces any attempt at moral
influence. A real feeling for religion is seldom the fruit of such
instruction; the children, as a rule, are glad after their Confirmation
to have done with this unspiritual religious teaching, and so they
remain, when their schooling is over, permanently strangers to the
religious inner life, which the instruction never awakened in them. Nor
does the instruction for Confirmation do much to alter that, for it is
usually conceived in the same spirit.

All other subjects which might raise heart and spirit and present to the
young minds some high ideals--more especially our own country's
history--are most shamefully neglected in favour of this sort of
instruction; and yet a truly religious and patriotic spirit is of
inestimable value for life, and, above all, for the soldier. It is the
more regrettable that instruction in the national school, as fixed by
the regulations, and as given in practice in a still duller form, is
totally unfitted to raise such feelings, and thus to do some real
service to the country. It is quite refreshing to read in the new
regulations for middle schools of February 10,1910, that by religious
instruction the "moral and religious tendencies of the child" should be
awakened and strengthened, and that the teaching of history should aim
at exciting an "intelligent appreciation of the greatness of the

The method of religious instruction which is adopted in the national
school is, in my opinion, hopelessly perverted. Religious instruction
can only become fruitful and profitable when a certain intellectual
growth has started and the child possesses some conscious will. To make
it the basis of intellectual growth, as was evidently intended in the
national schools, has never been a success; for it ought not to be
directed at the understanding and logical faculties, but at the mystical
intuitions of the soul, and, if it is begun too early, it has a
confusing effect on the development of the mental faculties. Even the
missionary who wishes to achieve real results tries to educate his
pupils by work and secular instruction before he attempts to impart to
them subtle religious ideas. Yet every Saturday the appointed passages
of Scripture (the Pericopes) are explained to six-year-old children.

Religious instruction proper ought to begin in the middle standard. Up
to that point the teacher should be content, from the religious
standpoint, to work on the child's imagination and feelings with the
simplest ideas of the Deity, but in other respects to endeavour to
awaken and encourage the intellectual life, and make it able to grasp
loftier conceptions. The national school stands in total contradiction
to this intellectual development. This is in conformity to regulations,
for the same children who read the Bible independently are only to be
led to "an approximate comprehension of those phenomena which are daily
around them." In the course of eight years they learn a smattering of
reading, writing, and ciphering.[A] It is significant of the knowledge
of our national history which the school imparts that out of sixty-three
recruits of one company to whom the question was put who Bismarck was,
not a single one could answer. That the scholars acquire even a general
idea of their duties to the country and the State is quite out of the
question. It is impossible to rouse the affection and fancy of the
children by instruction in history, because the two sexes are taught in
common. One thing appeals to the heart of boys, another to those of
girls; and, although I consider it important that patriotic feelings
should be inculcated among girls, since as mothers they will transmit
them to the family, still the girls must be influenced in a different
way from the boys. When the instruction is common to both, the treatment
of the subject by the teacher remains neutral and colourless. It is
quite incomprehensible how such great results are expected in the
religious field when so little has been achieved in every other field.

This pedantic school has wandered far indeed from the ideal that
Frederick the Great set up. He declared that the duty of the State was
"to educate the young generation to independent thinking and
self-devoted love of country."

[Footnote A: Recently a boy was discharged from a well-known national
school as an exceptionally good scholar, and was sent as well qualified
to the office of a Head Forester. He showed that he could not copy
correctly, to say nothing of writing by himself.]

Our national school of to-day needs, then, searching and thorough reform
if it is to be a preparatory school, not only for military education,
but for life generally. It sends children out into the world with
undeveloped reasoning faculties, and equipped with the barest elements
of knowledge, and thus makes them not only void of self-reliance, but
easy victims of all the corrupting influences of social life. As a
matter of fact, the mind and reasoning faculties of the national
schoolboy are developed for the first time by his course of instruction
as a recruit.

It is obviously not my business to indicate the paths to such a reform.
I will only suggest the points which seem to me the most important from
the standpoint of a citizen and a soldier.

First and foremost, the instruction must be more individual. The number
of teachers, accordingly, must be increased, and that of scholars
diminished. It is worth while considering in this connection the
feasibility of beginning school instruction at the age of eight years.
Then all teaching must be directed, more than at present, to the object
of developing the children's minds, and formal religious instruction
should only begin in due harmony with intellectual progress. Finally,
the _Realien,_ especially the history of our own country, should claim
more attention, and patriotic feelings should be encouraged in every
way; while in religious instruction the moral influence of religion
should be more prominent than the formal contents. The training of the
national school teacher must be placed on a new basis. At present it
absolutely corresponds to the one-sided and limited standpoint of the
school itself, and does not enable the teachers to develop the minds and
feelings of their pupils. It must be reckoned a distinct disadvantage
for the upgrowing generation that all instruction ends at the age of
fourteen, so that, precisely at the period of development in which the
reasoning powers are forming, the children are thrown back on themselves
and on any chance influences. In the interval between school life and
military service the young people not only forget all that they learnt,
perhaps with aptitude, in the national school, but they unthinkingly
adopt distorted views of life, and in many ways become brutalized from a
lack of counteracting ideals.

A compulsory continuation school is therefore an absolute necessity of
the age. It is also urgently required from the military standpoint. Such
a school, to be fruitful in results, must endeavour, not only to prevent
the scholar from forgetting what he once learnt, and to qualify him for
a special branch of work, but, above all, to develop his patriotism and
sense of citizenship. To do this, it is necessary to explain to him the
relation of the State to the individual, and to explain, by reference to
our national history, how the individual can only prosper by devotion to
the State. The duties of the individual to the State should be placed in
the foreground. This instruction must be inspired by the spirit which
animated Schleiermacher's sermons in the blackest hour of Prussia, and
culminated in the doctrine that all the value of the man lies in the
strength and purity of his will, in his free devotion to the great
whole; that property and life are only trusts, which must be employed
for higher ideals; that the mind, which thinks only of itself, perishes
in feeble susceptibility, but that true moral worth grows up only in the
love for the fatherland and for the State, which is a haven for every
faith, and a home of justice and honourable freedom of purpose.

Only if national education works in this sense will it train up men to
fill our armies who have been adequately prepared for the school of
arms, and bring with them the true soldierly spirit from which great
deeds spring. What can be effected by the spirit of a nation we have
learnt from the history of the War of Liberation, that never-failing
source of patriotic sentiment, which should form the backbone and centre
of history-teaching in the national and the continuation schools.

We can study it also by an example from most recent history, in the
Russo-Japanese War. "The education of the whole Japanese people,
beginning at home and continued at school, was based on a patriotic and
warlike spirit. That education, combined with the rapidly acquired
successes in culture and warfare, aroused in the Japanese a marvellous
confidence in their own strength. They served with pride in the ranks of
the army, and dreamed of heroic deeds.... All the thoughts of the
nation were turned towards the coming struggle, while in the course of
several years they had spent their last farthing in the creation of a
powerful army and a strong fleet."[B] This was the spirit that led the
Japanese to victory. "The day when the young Japanese enlisted was
observed as a festival in his family."[B]

In Russia, on the contrary, the idea was preached and disseminated that
"Patriotism was an obsolete notion," "war was a crime and an
anachronism," that "warlike deeds deserved no notice, the army was the
greatest bar to progress, and military service a dishonourable
trade."[B] Thus the Russian army marched to battle without any
enthusiasm, or even any comprehension of the momentous importance of the
great racial war, "not of free will, but from necessity." Already eaten
up by the spirit of revolution and unpatriotic selfishness, without
energy or initiative, a mechanical tool in the hand of uninspired
leaders, it tamely let itself be beaten by a weaker opponent.

[Footnote B: "The Work of the Russian General Staff," from the Russian by
Freiheu v. Tettau.]

I have examined these conditions closely because I attach great
importance to the national school and the continuation school as a means
to the military education of our people. I am convinced that only the
army of a warlike and patriotic people can achieve anything really
great. I understand, of course, that the school alone, however high its
efficiency, could not develop that spirit in our people which we, in
view of our great task in the future, must try to awaken by every means
if we wish to accomplish something great. The direct influence of school
ends when the young generation begins life, and its effect must at first
make itself felt very gradually. Later generations will reap the fruits
of its sowing. Its efficiency must be aided by other influences which
will not only touch the young men now living, but persist throughout
their lives. Now, there are two means available which can work upon
public opinion and on the spiritual and moral education of the nation;
one is the Press, the other is a policy of action. If the Government
wishes to win a proper influence over the people, not in order to secure
a narrow-spirited support of its momentary policy, but to further its
great political, social, and moral duties, it must control a strong and
national Press, through which it must present its views and aims
vigorously and openly. The Government will never be able to count upon a
well-armed and self-sacrificing people in the hour of danger or
necessity, if it calmly looks on while the warlike spirit is being
systematically undermined by the Press and a feeble peace policy
preached, still less if it allows its own organs to join in with the
same note, and continually to emphasize the maintenance of peace as the
object of all policy. It must rather do everything to foster a military
spirit, and to make the nation comprehend the duties and aims of an
imperial policy.

It must continually point to the significance and the necessity of war
as an indispensable agent in policy and civilization, together with the
duty of self-sacrifice and devotion to State and country.

A parliamentary Government, which always represents merely a temporary
majority, may leave the party Press to defend and back its views; but a
Government like the German, which traces its justification to the fact
that it is superior to all parties, cannot act thus. Its point of view
does not coincide with that of any party; it adopts a middle course,
conscious that it is watching the welfare of the whole community. It
must therefore represent its attitude, on general issues as well as on
particular points, independently, and must endeavour to make its aims as
widely understood as possible. I regard it, therefore, as one of the
most important duties of a Government like ours to use the Press freely
and wisely for the enlightenment of the people. I do not mean that a few
large political journals should, in the interests of the moment, be well
supplied with news, but that the views of the Government should find
comprehensive expression in the local Press. It would be an advantage,
in my opinion, were all newspapers compelled to print certain
announcements of the Government, in order that the reader might not have
such a one-sided account of public affairs as the party Press supplies.
It would be a measure of public moral and intellectual hygiene, as
justifiable as compulsory regulations in the interests of public health.
Epidemics of ideas and opinions are in our old Europe more dangerous and
damaging than bodily illnesses, and it is the duty of the State to
preserve the moral healthiness of the nation.

More important, perhaps, than teaching and enlightenment by the Press is
the _propaganda of action._ Nothing controls the spirit of the multitude
so effectually as energetic, deliberate, and successful action conceived
in a broad-minded, statesmanlike sense. Such education by a powerful
policy is an absolute necessity for the German people. This nation
possesses an excess of vigour, enterprise, idealism, and spiritual
energy, which qualifies it for the highest place; but a malignant fairy
laid on its cradle the most petty theoretical dogmatism. In addition to
this, an unhappy historical development which shattered the national and
religious unity of the nation created in the system of small States and
in confessionalism a fertile soil for the natural tendency to
particularism, on which it flourished luxuriantly as soon as the nation
was no longer inspired with great and unifying thoughts. Yet the heart
of this people can always be won for great and noble aims, even though
such aims can only be attended by danger. We must not be misled in this
respect by the Press, which often represents a most one-sided,
self-interested view, and sometimes follows international or even
Anti-German lines rather than national. The soul of our nation is not
reflected in that part of the Press with its continual dwelling on the
necessity of upholding peace, and its denunciation of any bold and
comprehensive political measure as a policy of recklessness.

On the contrary, an intense longing for a foremost place among the
Powers and for manly action fills our nation. Every vigorous utterance,
every bold political step of the Government, finds in the soul of the
people a deeply felt echo, and loosens the bonds which fetter all their
forces. In a great part of the national Press this feeling has again and
again found noble expression. But the statesman who could satisfy this
yearning, which slumbers in the heart of our people undisturbed by the
clamour of parties and the party Press, would carry all spirits with

He is no true statesman who does not reckon with these factors of
national psychology; Bismarck possessed this art, and used k with a
master-hand. True, he found ready to hand one idea which was common to
all--the sincere wish for German unification and the German Empire; but
the German nation, in its dissensions, did not know the ways which lead
to the realization of this idea. Only under compulsion and after a hard
struggle did it enter on the road of success; but the whole nation was
fired with high enthusiasm when it finally recognized the goal to which
the great statesman was so surely leading it. Success was the foundation
on which Bismarck built up the mighty fabric of the German Empire. Even
in the years of peace he understood how to rivet the imagination of the
people by an ambitious and active policy, and how, in spite of all
opposition, to gain over the masses to his views, and make them serve
his own great aims. He, too, made mistakes as man and as politician, and
the motto _Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto_ holds good of him;
but in its broad features his policy was always imperial and of
world-wide scope, and he never lost sight of the principle that no
statesman can permanently achieve great results unless he commands the
soul of his people.

This knowledge he shared with all the great men of our past, with the
Great Elector, Frederick the Incomparable, Scharnhorst and Bluecher; for
even that hoary marshal was a political force, the embodiment of a
political idea, which, to be sure, did not come into the foreground at
the Congress of Vienna.

The statesman who wishes to learn from history should above all things
recognize this one fact--that success is necessary to gain influence
over the masses, and that this influence can only be obtained by
continually appealing to the national imagination and enlisting its
interest in great universal ideas and great national ambitions.
Such a policy is also the best school in which to educate a nation to
great military achievements. When their spirits are turned towards high
aims they feel themselves compelled to contemplate war bravely, and to
prepare their minds to it:

"The man grows up, with manhood's nobler aims."

We may learn something from Japan on this head. Her eyes were fixed on
the loftiest aims; she did not shrink from laying the most onerous
duties on the people, but she understood how to fill the soul of the
whole people with enthusiasm for her great ideals, and thus a nation of
warriors was educated which supplied the best conceivable material for
the army, and was ready for the greatest sacrifices.

We Germans have a far greater and more urgent duty towards civilization
to perform than the Great Asiatic Power. We, like the Japanese, can only
fulfil it by the sword.

Shall we, then, decline to adopt a bold and active policy, the most
effective means with which we can prepare our people for its military
duty? Such a counsel is only for those who lack all feeling for the
strength and honour of the German people.



From the discussions in the previous chapter it directly follows that
the political conduct of the State, while affecting the mental attitude
of the people, exercises an indirect but indispensable influence on the
preparation for war, and is to some degree a preparation for war itself.

But, in addition to the twofold task of exercising this intellectual and
moral influence, and of placing at the disposal of the military
authorities the necessary means for keeping up the armaments, still
further demands must be made of those responsible for the guidance of
the State. In the first place, financial preparations for war must be
made, quite distinct from the current expenditure on the army; the
national finances must be so treated that the State can bear the
tremendous burdens of a modern war without an economic crash. Further,
as already mentioned in another place, there must be a sort of
mobilization in the sphere of commercial politics in order to insure
under all eventualities the supply of the goods necessary for the
material and industrial needs of the country. Finally, preparations for
war must also be made politically; that is to say, efforts must be made
to bring about a favourable political conjuncture, and, so far as
possible, to isolate the first enemy with whom a war is bound to come.
If that cannot be effected, an attempt must he made to win allies, in
whom confidence can be reposed should war break out.

I am not a sufficient expert to pronounce a definite opinion on the
commercial and financial side of the question. In the sphere of
commercial policy especially I cannot even suggest the way in which the
desired end can be obtained. Joint action on the part of the Government
and the great import houses would seem to be indicated. As regards
finance, speaking again from a purely unprofessional standpoint, one may
go so far as to say that it is not only essential to keep the national
household in order, but to maintain the credit of the State, so that, on
the outbreak of war, it may be possible to raise the vast sums of money
required for carrying it on without too onerous conditions.

The credit of State depends essentially on a regulated financial
economy, which insures that the current outgoings are covered by the
current incomings. Other factors are the national wealth, the
indebtedness of the State, and, lastly, the confidence in its productive
and military capabilities.

As regards the first point, I have already pointed out that in a great
civilized World State the balancing of the accounts must never be
brought about in the petty-State fashion by striking out expenditure for
necessary requirements, more especially expenditure on the military
forces, whose maintenance forms the foundation of a satisfactory general
progress. The incomings must, on the contrary, be raised in proportion
to the real needs. But, especially in a State which is so wholly based
on war as the German Empire, the old manly principle of keeping all our
forces on the stretch must never be abandoned out of deference to the
effeminate philosophy of the day. Fichte taught us that there is only
one virtue--to forget the claims of one's personality; and only one
vice--to think of self. Ultimately the State is the transmitter of all
culture, and is therefore entitled to claim all the powers of the
individual for itself.[A] These ideas, which led us out of the deepest
gloom to the sunlit heights of success, must remain our pole-star at an
epoch which in many respects can be compared with the opening years of
the last century. The peace-loving contentment which then prevailed in
Prussia, as if the age of everlasting peace had come, still sways large
sections of our people, and exerts an appreciable influence on the

Among that peaceful nation "which behind the rampart of its line of
demarcation observed with philosophic calm how two mighty nations
contested the sole possession of the world," nobody gave any thought to
the great change of times. In the same way many Germans to-day look
contentedly and philosophically at the partition of the world, and shut
their eyes to the rushing stream of world-history and the great duties
imposed upon us by it. Even to-day, as then, the same "super-terrestrial
pride, the same super-clever irresolution" spreads among us "which in
our history follows with uncanny regularity the great epochs of audacity
and energy."[B]

[Footnote A: Treitschke.]

[Footnote: B Treitschke, "Deutsche Geschichte."]

Under conditions like the present the State is not only entitled, but is
bound to put the utmost strain on the financial powers of her citizens,
since it is vital questions that are at stake. It is equally important,
however, to foster by every available means the growth of the national
property, and thus to improve the financial capabilities.

This property is to a certain extent determined by the natural
productiveness of the country and the mineral wealth it contains. But
these possessions are utilized and their value is enhanced by the labour
of all fellow-countrymen--that immense capital which cannot be replaced.
Here, then, the State can profitably step in. It can protect and secure
labour against unjustifiable encroachments by regulating the labour
conditions; it can create profitable terms for exports and imports by
concluding favourable commercial agreements; it can help and facilitate
German trade by vigorous political representation of German interests
abroad; it can encourage the shipping trade, which gains large profits
from international commerce;[C] it can increase agricultural production
by energetic home colonization, cultivation of moorland, and suitable
protective measures, so as to make us to some extent less dependent on
foreign countries for our food. The encouragement of deep-sea fishery
would add to this.[D]

[Footnote: C England earns some 70 millions sterling by international
commerce, Germany about 15 millions sterling.]

[Footnote D: We buy annually some 2 millions sterling worth of fish from
foreign countries.]

From the military standpoint, it is naturally very important to increase
permanently the supply of breadstuffs and meat, so that in spite of the
annual increase in population the home requirements may for some time be
met to the same extent as at present; this seems feasible. Home
production now supplies 87 per cent, of the required breadstuffs and 95
per cent, of the meat required. To maintain this proportion, the
production in the next ten years must be increased by at most two
double-centners per Hectare, which is quite possible if it is considered
that the rye harvest alone in the last twenty years has increased by two
million tons.

A vigorous colonial policy, too, will certainly improve the national
prosperity if directed, on the one hand, to producing in our own
colonies the raw materials which our industries derive in immense
quantities from foreign countries, and so making us gradually
independent of foreign countries; and, on the other hand, to
transforming our colonies into an assured market for our goods by
effective promotion of settlements, railroads, and cultivation. The less
we are tributaries of foreign countries, to whom we pay many milliards,
[E] the more our national wealth and the financial capabilities of the
State will improve.

[Footnote E: We obtained from abroad in 1907, for instance, 476,400 tons
of cotton, 185,300 tons of wool, 8,500,000 tons of iron, 124,000 tons of
copper, etc.]

If the State can thus contribute directly to the increase of national
productions, it can equally raise its own credit by looking after the
reduction of the national debt, and thus improving its financial
position. But payment of debts is, in times of high political tension, a
two-edged sword, if it is carried out at the cost of necessary outlays.
The gain in respect of credit on the one side of the account may very
easily be lost again on the other. Even from the financial aspect it is
a bad fault to economize in outlay on the army and navy in order to
improve the financial position. The experiences of history leave no
doubt on that point. Military power is the strongest pillar of a
nation's credit. If it is weakened, financial security at once is
shaken. A disastrous war involves such pecuniary loss that the State
creditors may easily become losers by it. But a State whose army holds
out prospects of carrying the war to a victorious conclusion offers its
creditors far better security than a weaker military power. If our
credit at the present day cannot be termed very good, our threatened
political position is chiefly to blame. If we chose to neglect our army
and navy our credit would sink still lower, in spite of all possible
liquidation of our debt. We have a twofold duty before us: first to
improve our armament; secondly, to promote the national industry, and to
keep in mind the liquidation of our debts so far as our means go.

The question arises whether it is possible to perform this twofold task.

It is inconceivable that the German people has reached the limits of
possible taxation. The taxes of Prussia have indeed, between 1893-94 and
1910-11, increased by 56 per cent, per head of the population--from
20.62 marks to 32.25 marks (taxes and customs together)--and the same
proportion may hold in the rest of Germany. On the other hand, there is
a huge increase in the national wealth. This amounts, in the German
Empire now, to 330 to 360 milliard marks, or 5,000 to 6,000 marks per
head of the population. In France the wealth, calculated on the same
basis, is no higher, and yet in France annually 20 marks, in Germany
only 16 marks, per head of the population are expended on the army and
navy. In England, on the contrary, where the average wealth of the
individual is some 1,000 marks higher than in Germany and France, the
outlay for the army and navy comes to 29 marks per head. Thus our most
probable opponents make appreciably greater sacrifices for their
armaments than we do, although they are far from being in equal danger

Attention must at the same time be called to the fact that the increase
of wealth in Germany continues to be on an ascending scale. Trades and
industries have prospered vastly, and although the year 1908 saw a
setback, yet the upward tendency has beyond doubt set in again.

The advance in trade and industry, which began with the founding of the
Empire, is extraordinary. "The total of imports and exports has
increased in quantity from 32 million tons to 106 million tons in the
year 1908, or by 232 per cent., and in value from 6 milliards to 14
1/2-16 milliards marks in the last years. Of these, the value of the
imports has grown from 3 to 8-9 milliards marks, and the value of the
exports from 3 1/2 to 6 1/2-7 milliards.... The value of the import of
raw materials for industrial purposes has grown from 1 1/2 milliards in
1879 to 4 1/2 milliards marks lately, and the value of the export of
such raw materials from 850 million to 1 1/2 milliard marks. The import
of made goods had in 1879 a value of 600 million marks, and in 1908 a
value of 1 1/4 milliard marks, while the value of the export of
manufactured goods mounted from 1 to 4 milliards. The value of the
import of food-stuffs and delicacies has grown from 1 to 2 1/2-2 1/3
milliard marks, while the value of the export of articles of food
remained at about the same figure.

The mineral output can also point to an undreamed-of extension in
Germany during the last thirty years. The amount of coal raised amounted
in 1879 to only 42 million tons; up to 1908 it has increased to 148 1/2
million tons, and in value from 100 million to 1 1/2 milliard marks. The
quantity of brown coal raised was only 11 1/2 million tons in 1879; in
1908 it was 66 3/4 million tons, and in value it has risen from 35
million to 170 million marks. The output of iron-ore has increased from
6 million tons to 27 million tons, and in value from 27 million to 119
million marks.... From 1888 to 1908 the amount of coal raised in Germany
has increased by 127 per cent.; in England only by about 59 per cent.
The raw iron obtained has increased in Germany from 1888 to 1908 by 172
per cent.; in England there is a rise of 27 per cent. only.[F]

[Footnote F: Professor Dr. Wade, Berlin.]

Similar figures can be shown in many other spheres. The financial
position of the Empire has considerably improved since the Imperial
Finance reform of 1909, so that the hope exists that the Budget may very
soon balance without a loan should no new sacrifices be urgent.

It was obvious that with so prodigious a development a continued growth
of revenue must take place, and hand-in-hand with it a progressive
capitalization. Such a fact has been the case, and to a very marked
extent. From the year 1892-1905 in Prussia alone an increase of national
wealth of about 2 milliard marks annually has taken place. The number of
taxpayers and of property in the Property Tax class of 6,000 to 100,000
marks has in Prussia increased in these fourteen years by 29 per cent.,
from 1905-1908 by 11 per cent.; in the first period, therefore, by 2 per
cent., in the last years by 3 per cent. annually. In these classes,
therefore, prosperity is increasing, but this is so in much greater
proportion in the large fortunes. In the Property Tax class of 100,000
to 500,000 marks, the increase has been about 48 per cent.--i.e., on
an average for the fourteen years about 3 per cent. annually, while in
the last three years it has been 4.6 per cent. In the class of 500,000
marks and upwards, the increase for the fourteen years amounts to 54 per
cent. in the taxpayers and 67 per cent. in the property; and, while in
the fourteen years the increase is on an average 4.5 per cent. annually,
it has risen in the three years 1905-1908 to 8.6 per cent. This means
per head of the population in the schedule of 6,000 to 100,000 marks an
increase of 650 marks, in the schedule of 100,000 to 500,000 marks an
increase per head of 6,400 marks, and in the schedule of 500,000 marks
and upwards an increase of 70,480 marks per head and per year.

We see then, especially in the large estates, a considerable and
annually increasing growth, which the Prussian Finance Minister has
estimated for Prussia alone at 3 milliards yearly in the next three
years, so that it may be assumed to be for the whole Empire 5 milliards
yearly in the same period. Wages have risen everywhere. To give some
instances, I will mention that among the workmen at Krupp's factory at
Essen the daily earnings have increased from 1879-1906 by 77 per cent.,
the pay per hour for masons from 1885-1905 by 64 per cent., and the
annual earnings in the Dortmund district of the chief mining office from
1886 to 1907 by 121 per cent. This increase in earnings is also shown by
the fact that the increase of savings bank deposits since 1906 has
reached the sum of 4 milliard marks, a proof that in the lower and
poorer strata of the population, too, a not inconsiderable improvement
in prosperity is perceptible. It can also be regarded as a sign of a
healthy, improving condition of things that emigration and unemployment
are considerably diminished in Germany. In 1908 only 20,000 emigrants
left our country; further, according to the statistics of the workmen's
unions, only 4.4 per cent, of their members were unemployed, whereas in
the same year 336,000 persons emigrated from Great Britain and 10 per
cent. (in France it was as much as 11.4 per cent.) of members of
workmen's unions were unemployed.

Against this brilliant prosperity must be placed a very large national
debt, both in the Empire and in the separate States. The German Empire
in the year 1910 had 5,016,655,500 marks debt, and in addition the
national debt of the separate States on April 1, 1910, reached in--

Prussia 9,421,770,800
Bavaria 2,165,942,900
Saxony 893,042,600
Wuertemberg 606,042,800
Baden 557,859,000
Hesse 428,664,400
Alsace-Lorraine 31,758,100
Hamburg 684,891,200
Luebeck 666,888,400
Bremen 263,431,400

Against these debts may be placed a considerable property in domains,
forests, mines, and railways. The stock capital of the State railways
reached, on March 31, 1908, in millions of marks, in--

Prussia (Hesse) 9,888
Bavaria 1,694
Saxony 1,035
Wuertemburg 685
Baden 727
Alsace-Lorraine 724

--a grand total, including the smaller State systems, of 15,062 milliard
marks. This sum has since risen considerably, and reached at the end of
1911 for Prussia alone 11,050 milliards. Nevertheless, the national
debts signify a very heavy burden, which works the more disadvantageously
because these debts are almost all contracted in the country, and
presses the more heavily because the communes are also often greatly in

The debt of the Prussian towns and country communes of 10,000
inhabitants and upwards alone amounts to 3,000 million marks, in the
whole Empire to some 5,000 million marks. This means that interest
yearly has to be paid to the value of 150 million marks, so that many
communes, especially in the east and in the western industrial regions,
are compelled to raise additional taxation to the extent of 200, 300, or
even 400 per cent. The taxes also are not at all equally distributed
according to capacity to pay them. The main burden rests on the middle
class; the large fortunes are much less drawn upon. Some sources of
wealth are not touched by taxation, as, for example, the speculative
income not obtained by carrying on any business, but by speculations on
the Stock Exchange, which cannot be taxed until it is converted into
property. Nevertheless, the German nation is quite in a position to pay
for the military preparations, which it certainly requires for the
protection and the fulfilment of its duties in policy and civilization,
so soon as appropriate and comprehensive measures are taken and the
opposing parties can resolve to sacrifice scruples as to principles on
the altar of patriotism.

The dispute about the so-called Imperial Finance reform has shown how
party interests and selfishness rule the national representation; it was
not pleasant to see how each tried to shift the burden to his
neighbour's shoulders in order to protect himself against financial
sacrifices. It must be supposed, therefore, that similar efforts will be
made in the future, and that fact must be reckoned with. But a
considerable and rapid rise of the Imperial revenue is required if we
wish to remain equal to the situation and not to abandon the future of
our country without a blow.

Under these conditions I see no other effectual measure but the speedy
introduction of the _Reichserbrecht_ (Imperial right of succession), in
order to satisfy the urgent necessity. This source of revenue would
oppress no class in particular, but would hit all alike, and would
furnish the requisite means both to complete our armament and to
diminish our burden of debt.

If the collateral relations, with exception of brothers and sisters,
depended on mention in the will for any claim--that is to say, if they
could only inherit when a testimentary disposition existed in their
favour--and if, in absence of such disposition, the State stepped in as
heir, a yearly revenue of 500 millions, according to a calculation based
on official material, could be counted upon. This is not the place to
examine this calculation more closely. Even if it is put at too high a
figure, which I doubt, yet the yield of such a tax would be very large
under any circumstances.

Since this, like every tax on an inheritance, is a tax on capital--that
is to say, it is directly derived from invested capital--it is in the
nature of things that the proceeds should be devoted in the first
instance to the improvement of the financial situation, especially to
paying off debts. Otherwise there would be the danger of acting like a
private gentleman who lives on his capital. This idea is also to be
recommended because the proceeds of the tax are not constant, but liable
to fluctuations. It would be advisable to devote the proceeds
principally in this way, and to allow a part to go towards extinguishing
the debt of the communes, whose financial soundness is extremely
important. This fundamental standpoint does not exclude the possibility
that in a national crisis the tax may be exceptionally applied to other
important purposes, as for example to the completion of our armaments on
land and sea.

There are two objections--one economic, the other ethical--which may be
urged against this right of the State or the Empire to inherit. It is
argued that the proceeds of the tax were drawn from the national wealth,
that the State would grow richer, the people poorer, and that in course
of time capital would be united in the hand of the State, that the
independent investor would be replaced by the official, and thus the
ideal of Socialism would be realized. Secondly, the requirement that
relations, in order to inherit, must be specially mentioned in the will,
is thought to be a menace to the coherence of the family. "According to
our prevailing law, the man who wishes to deprive his family of his
fortune must do some positive act. He must make a will, in which he
bequeathes the property to third persons, charitable institutions, or to
any other object. It is thus brought before his mind that his natural
heirs are his relations, his kin, and that he must make a will if he
wishes to exclude his legal heirs. It is impressed upon him that he is
interfering by testamentary disposition in the natural course of things,
that he is wilfully altering it. The Imperial right of succession is
based on the idea that the community stands nearer to the individual
than his family. This is in its inmost significance a socialistic trait.
The socialistic State, which deals with a society made up of atoms, in
which every individual is freed from the bonds of family, while all are
alike bound by a uniform socialistic tie, might put forward a claim of
this sort."[F]

[Footnote F: Bolko v. Katte, in the _Kreuzzeitung_ of November 18, 1910.]

Both objections are unconvincing.

So long as the State uses the proceeds of the inheritances in order to
liquidate debts and other outgoings, which would have to be met
otherwise, the devolution of such inheritances on the State is directly
beneficial to all members of the State, because they have to pay less
taxes. Legislation could easily prevent any accumulation of capital in
the hands of the State, since, if such results followed, this right of
succession might be restricted, or the dreaded socialization of the
State be prevented in other ways. The science of finance could
unquestionably arrange that. There is no necessity to push the scheme to
its extreme logical conclusion.

The so-called ethical objections are still less tenable. If a true sense
of family ties exists, the owner of property will not fail to make a
will, which is an extremely simple process under the present law. If
such ties are weak, they are assuredly not strengthened by the right of
certain next of kin to be the heirs of a man from whom they kept aloof
in life. Indeed, the Crown's right of inheritance would produce probably
the result that more wills were made, and thus the sense of family ties
would actually be strengthened. The "primitive German sense of law,"
which finds expression in the present form of the law of succession, and
is summed up in the notion that the family is nearer to the individual
than the State, has so far borne the most mischievous results. It is the
root from which the disruption of Germany, the particularism and the
defective patriotism of our nation, have grown up. It is well that in
the coming generation some check on this movement should be found, and
that the significance of the State for the individual, no less than for
the family, should be thoroughly understood.

These more or less theoretical objections are certainly not weighty
enough to negative a proposal like that of introducing this Imperial
right of succession if the national danger demands direct and rapid help
and the whole future of Germany is at stake.

If, therefore, no other proposals are forthcoming by which an equally
large revenue can be obtained; the immediate reintroduction of such a
law of succession appears a necessity, and will greatly benefit our
sorely-pressed country. Help is urgently needed, and there would be good
prospects of such law being passed in the Reichstag if the Government
does not disguise the true state of the political position.

Political preparations are not less essential than financial. We see
that all the nations of the world are busily securing themselves against
the attack of more powerful opponents by alliances or _ententes_, and
are winning allies in order to carry out their own objects. Efforts are
also often made to stir up ill-feeling between the other States, so as
to have a free hand for private schemes. This is the policy on which
England has built up her power in Europe, in order to continue her world
policy undisturbed. She cannot be justly blamed for this; for even if
she has acted with complete disregard of political morality, she has
built up a mighty Empire, which is the object of all policy, and has
secured to the English people the possibility of the most ambitious
careers. We must not deceive ourselves as to the principles of this
English policy. We must realize to ourselves that it is guided
exclusively by unscrupulous selfishness, that it shrinks from no means
of accomplishing its aims, and thus shows admirable diplomatic skill.

There must be no self-deception on the point that political arrangements
have only a qualified value, that they are always concluded with a tacit
reservation. Every treaty of alliance presupposes the _rebus sic
stantibus_; for since it must satisfy the interests of each contracting
party, it clearly can only hold as long as those interests are really
benefited. This is a political principle that cannot be disputed.
Nothing can compel a State to act counter to its own interests, on which
those of its citizens depend. This consideration, however, imposes on
the honest State the obligation of acting with the utmost caution when
concluding a political arrangement and defining its limits in time, so
as to avoid being forced into a breach of its word. Conditions may arise
which are more powerful than the most honourable intentions. The
country's own interests--considered, of course, in the highest ethical
sense--must then turn the scale. "Frederick the Great was all his life
long charged with treachery, because no treaty or alliance could ever
induce him to renounce the right of free self-determination."[A]

The great statesman, therefore, will conclude political _ententes_ or
alliances, on whose continuance he wishes to be able to reckon, only if
he is convinced that each of the contracting parties will find such an
arrangement to his true and unqualified advantage. Such an alliance is,
as I have shown in another place, the Austro-German. The two States,
from the military no less than from the political aspect, are in the
happiest way complements of each other. The German theatre of war in the
east will be protected by Austria from any attempt to turn our flank on
the south, while we can guard the northern frontier of Austria and
outflank any Russian attack on Galicia.

Alliances in which each contracting party has different interests will
never hold good under all conditions, and therefore cannot represent a
permanent political system.

"There is no alliance or agreement in the world that can be regarded as
effective if it is not fastened by the bond of the common and reciprocal
interests; if in any treaty the advantage is all on one side and the
other gets nothing, this disproportion destroys the obligation." These
are the words of Frederick the Great, our foremost political teacher
_pace_ Bismarck.

We must not be blinded in politics by personal wishes and hopes, but
must look things calmly in the face, and try to forecast the probable
attitude of the other States by reference to their own interests.
Bismarck tells us that "Illusions are the greatest danger to the
diplomatist. He must take for granted that the other, like himself,
seeks nothing but his own advantage." It will prove waste labour to
attempt to force a great State by diplomatic arrangements to actions or
an attitude which oppose its real interests. When a crisis arises, the
weight of these interests will irresistibly turn the scale.

When Napoleon III. planned war against Prussia, he tried to effect an
alliance with Austria and Italy, and Archduke Albert was actually in
Paris to conclude the military negotiations.[B] These probably were
going on, as the French General Lebrun was in Vienna on the same errand.
Both countries left France in the lurch so soon as the first Prussian
flag flew victoriously on the heights of the Geisberg. A statesman less
biassed than Napoleon would have foreseen this, since neither Austria
nor Italy had sufficient interests at stake to meddle in such a war
under unfavourable conditions.

[Footnote B: When Colonel Stoffel, the well-known French Military Attache
in Berlin, returned to Paris, and was received by the Emperor, and
pointed out the danger of the position and the probable perfection of
Prussia's war preparations, the Emperor declared that he was better
informed. He proceeded to take from his desk a memoir on the
conditions of the Prussian army apparently sent to him by Archduke
Albert, which came to quite different conclusions. The Emperor had
made the facts therein stated the basis of his political and military
calculations. (Communications of Colonel Stoffel to the former
Minister of War, v. Verdy, who put them at the service of the author.)]

France, in a similar spirit of selfish national interests,
unscrupulously brushed aside the Conventions of Algeciras, which did not
satisfy her. She will equally disregard all further diplomatic
arrangements intended to safeguard Germany's commercial interests in
Morocco so soon as she feels strong enough, since it is clearly her
interest to be undisputed master in Morocco and to exploit that country
for herself. France, when she no longer fears the German arms, will not
allow any official document in the world to guarantee German commerce
and German enterprise any scope in Morocco; and from the French
standpoint she is right.

The political behaviour of a State is governed only by its own
interests, and the natural antagonism and grouping of the different
Great Powers must be judged by that standard. There is no doubt,
however, that it is extraordinarily difficult to influence the political
grouping with purely selfish purposes; such influence becomes possible
only by the genuine endeavour to further the interests of the State with
which closer relations are desirable and to cause actual injury to its
opponents. A policy whose aim is to avoid quarrel with all, but to
further the interests of none, runs the danger of displeasing everyone
and of being left isolated in the hour of danger.

A successful policy, therefore, cannot be followed without taking
chances and facing risks. It must be conscious of its goal, and keep
this goal steadily in view. It must press every change of circumstances
and all unforeseen occurrences into the service of its own ideas. Above
all things, it must he ready to seize the psychological moment, and take
bold action if the general position of affairs indicates the possibility
of realizing political ambitions or of waging a necessary war under
favourable conditions. "The great art of policy," writes Frederick the
Great, "is not to swim against the stream, but to turn all events to
one's own profit. It consists rather in deriving advantage from
favourable conjunctures than in preparing such conjunctures." Even in
his Rheinsberg days he acknowledged the principle to which he adhered
all his life: "Wisdom is well qualified to keep what one possesses; but
boldness alone can acquire." "I give you a problem to solve," he said to
his councillors when the death of Emperor Charles VI. was announced.
"When you have the advantage, are you to use it or not?"

Definite, clearly thought out political goals, wise foresight, correct
summing up alike of one's own and of foreign interests, accurate
estimation of the forces of friends and foes, bold advocacy of the
interests, not only of the mother-country, but also of allies, and
daring courage when the critical hour strikes--these are the great laws
of political and military success.

The political preparation for war is included in them. He who is blinded
by the semblance of power and cannot resolve to act, will never be able
to make political preparations for the inevitable war with any success.
"The braggart feebleness which travesties strength, the immoral claim
which swaggers in the sanctity of historical right, the timidity which
shelters its indecision behind empty and formal excuses, never were more
despised than by the great Prussian King," so H. v. Treitschke tells us.
"Old Fritz" must be our model in this respect, and must teach us with
remorseless realism so to guide our policy that the position of the
political world may be favourable for us, and that we do not miss
the golden opportunity.

It is an abuse of language if our unenterprising age tries to stigmatize
that energetic policy which pursued positive aims as an adventurist
policy. That title can only be given to the policy which sets up
personal ideals and follows them without just estimation of the real
current of events, and so literally embarks on incalculable adventures,
as Napoleon did in Mexico, and Italy in Abyssinia.

A policy taking all factors into consideration, and realizing these
great duties of the State, which are an historical legacy and are based
on the nature of things, is justified when it boldly reckons with the
possibility of a war. This is at once apparent if one considers the
result to the State when war is forced on it under disadvantageous
circumstances. I need only instance 1806, and the terrible catastrophe
to which the feeble, unworthy peace policy of Prussia led.

In this respect the Russo-Japanese War speaks a clear language. Japan
had made the most judicious preparations possible, political as well as
military, for the war, when she concluded the treaty with England and
assured herself of the benevolent neutrality of America and China. Her
policy, no less circumspect than bold, did not shrink from beginning at
the psychological moment the war which was essential for the attainment
of her political ends. Russia was not prepared in either respect. She
had been forced into a hostile position with Germany from her alliance
with France, and therefore dared not denude her west front in order to
place sufficient forces in the Far East. Internal conditions, moreover,
compelled her to retain large masses of soldiers in the western part of
the Empire. A large proportion of the troops put into the field against
Japan were therefore only inferior reserves. None of the preparations
required by the political position had been made, although the conflict
had long been seen to be inevitable. Thus the war began with disastrous
retreats, and was never conducted with any real vigour. There is no
doubt that things would have run a different course had Russia made
resolute preparations for the inevitable struggle and had opened the
campaign by the offensive.

England, too, was politically surprised by the Boer War, and
consequently had not taken any military precautions at all adequate to
her aims or suited to give weight to political demands.

Two points stand out clearly from this consideration.

First of all there is a reciprocal relation between the military and
political preparations for war. Proper political preparations for war
are only made if the statesman is supported by a military force strong
enough to give weight to his demands, and if he ventures on nothing
which he cannot carry through by arms. At the same time the army must be
developed on a scale which takes account of the political projects. The
obligation imposed on the General to stand aloof from politics in peace
as well as in war only holds good in a limited sense. The War Minister
and the Head of the General Staff must be kept _au courant_ with the
all-fluctuating phases of policy; indeed, they must be allowed a certain
influence over policy, in order to adapt their measures to its needs,
and are entitled to call upon the statesman to act if the military
situation is peculiarly favourable. At the same time the Minister who
conducts foreign policy must, on his side, never lose sight of what is
in a military sense practicable; he must be constantly kept informed of
the precise degree in which army and navy are ready for war, since he
must never aim at plans which cannot, if necessary, be carried out by
war. A veiled or open threat of war is the only means the statesman has
of carrying out his aims; for in the last resort it is always the
realization of the possible consequences of a war which induces the
opponent to give in. Where this means is renounced, a policy of
compromise results, which satisfies neither party and seldom produces a
permanent settlement; while if a statesman announces the possibility of
recourse to the arbitrament of arms, his threat must be no empty one,
but must be based on real power and firm determination if it is not to
end in political and moral defeat.

The second point, clearly brought before us, is that a timid and
hesitating policy, which leaves the initiative to the opponent and
shrinks from ever carrying out its purpose with warlike methods, always
creates an unfavourable military position. History, as well as theory,
tells us by countless instances that a far-seeing, energetic policy,
which holds its own in the face of all antagonism, always reacts
favourably on the military situation.

In this respect war and policy obey the same laws; great results can
only be expected where political and military foresight and resolution
join hands.

If we regard from this standpoint the political preparation for the next
war which Germany will have to fight, we must come to this conclusion:
the more unfavourable the political conjuncture the greater the
necessity for a determined, energetic policy if favourable conditions
are to be created for the inevitably threatening war.

So long as we had only to reckon on the possibility of a war on two
fronts against France and Russia, and could count on help in this war
from all the three parties to the Triple Alliance, the position was
comparatively simple. There were, then, of course, a series of various
strategical possibilities; but the problem could be reduced to a small
compass: strategical attack on the one side, strategical defence on the
other, or, if the Austrian army was taken into calculation, offensive
action on both sides. To-day the situation is different.

We must consider England, as well as France and Russia. We must expect
not only an attack by sea on our North Sea coasts, but a landing of
English forces on the continent of Europe and a violation of Belgo-Dutch
neutrality by our enemies. It is also not inconceivable that England may
land troops in Schleswig or Jutland, and try to force Denmark into war
with us. It seems further questionable whether Austria will be in a
position to support us with all her forces, whether she will not rather
be compelled to safeguard her own particular interests on her south and
south-east frontiers. An attack by France through Switzerland is also
increasingly probable, if a complete reorganization of the grouping of
the European States is effected. Finally, we should be seriously menaced
in the Baltic if Russia gains time to reconstruct her fleet.

All these unfavourable conditions will certainly not occur
simultaneously, but under certain not impossible political combinations
they are more or less probable, and must be taken into account from the
military aspect. The military situation thus created is very

If under such uncertain conditions it should be necessary to place the
army on a war footing, only one course is left: we must meet the
situation by calling out strategic reserves, which must be all the
stronger since the political conditions are so complicated and obscure,
and those opponents so strong on whose possible share in the war we must
count. The strategic reserve will be to some extent a political one
also. A series of protective measures, necessary in any case, would have
to be at once set on foot, but the mass of the army would not be
directed to any definite point until the entire situation was clear and
all necessary steps could be considered. Until that moment the troops of
the strategic reserve would be left in their garrisons or collected
along the railway lines and at railway centres in such a way that, when
occasion arose, they could be despatched in any direction. On the same
principle the rolling-stock on the lines would have to be kept in
readiness, the necessary time-tables for the different transport
arrangements drawn up, and stores secured in safe depots on as many
different lines of march as possible. Previous arrangements for
unloading at the railway stations must be made in accordance with the
most various political prospects. We should in any case be forced to
adopt a waiting policy, a strategic defensive, which under present
conditions is extremely unfavourable; we should not be able to prevent
an invasion by one or other of our enemies.

No proof is necessary to show that a war thus begun cannot hold out good
prospects of success. The very bravest army must succumb if led against
a crushingly superior force under most unfavourable conditions. A
military investigation of the situation shows that a plan
of campaign, such as would be required here on the inner line, presents,
under the modern system of "mass" armies, tremendous difficulties, and
has to cope with strategic conditions of the most unfavourable kind.

The disadvantages of such a situation can only be avoided by a policy
which makes it feasible to act on the offensive, and, if possible, to
overthrow the one antagonist before the other can actively interfere. On
this initiative our safety now depends, just as it did in the days of
Frederick the Great. We must look this truth boldly in the face. Of
course, it can be urged that an attack is just what would produce an
unfavourable position for us, since it creates the conditions on which
the Franco-Russian alliance would be brought into activity. If we
attacked France or Russia, the ally would be compelled to bring help,
and we should be in a far worse position than if we had only one enemy
to fight. Let it then be the task of our diplomacy so to shuffle the
cards that we may be attacked by France, for then there would be
reasonable prospect that Russia for a time would remain neutral.

This view undoubtedly deserves attention, but we must not hope to bring
about this attack by waiting passively. Neither France nor Russia nor
England need to attack in order to further their interests. So long as
we shrink from attack, they can force us to submit to their will by
diplomacy, as the upshot of the Morocco negotiations shows.

If we wish to bring about an attack by our opponents, we must initiate
an active policy which, without attacking France, will so prejudice her
interests or those of England, that both these States would feel
themselves compelled to attack us. Opportunities for such procedure are
offered both in Africa and in Europe, and anyone who has attentively
studied prominent political utterances can easily satisfy himself on
this point.

In opposition to these ideas the view is frequently put forward that we
should wait quietly and let time fight for us, since from the force of
circumstances many prizes will fall into our laps which we have now to
struggle hard for. Unfortunately such politicians always forget to state
clearly and definitely what facts are really working in their own
interests and what advantages will accrue to us therefrom. Such
political wisdom is not to be taken seriously, for it has no solid
foundation. We must reckon with the definitely given conditions, and
realize that timidity and _laissez-aller_ have never led to great

It is impossible for anyone not close at hand to decide what steps and
measures are imposed upon our foreign policy, in order to secure a
favourable political situation should the pending questions so momentous
to Germany's existence come to be settled by an appeal to arms. This
requires a full and accurate knowledge of the political and diplomatic
position which I do not possess. One thing only can be justly said:
Beyond the confusion and contradictions of the present situation we must
keep before us the great issues which will not lose their importance as
time goes on.

Italy, which has used a favourable moment in order to acquire
settlements for her very rapidly increasing population (487,000 persons
emigrated from Italy in 1908), can never combine with France and England
to fulfil her political ambition of winning the supremacy in the
Mediterranean, since both these States themselves claim this place. The
effort to break up the Triple Alliance has momentarily favoured the
Italian policy of expansion. But this incident does not alter in the
least the fact that the true interest of Italy demands adherence to the
Triple Alliance, which alone can procure her Tunis and Biserta. The
importance of these considerations will continue to be felt.

Turkey also cannot permanently go hand-in-hand with England, France, and
Russia, whose policy must always aim directly at the annihilation of
present-day Turkey. Islam has now as ever her most powerful enemies in
England and Russia, and will, sooner or later, be forced to join the
Central European Alliance, although we committed the undoubted blunder
of abandoning her in Morocco.

There is no true community of interests between Russia and England; in
Central Asia, in Persia, as in the Mediterranean, their ambitions clash
in spite of all conventions, and the state of affairs in Japan and China
is forcing on a crisis which is vital to Russian interests and to some
degree ties her hands.

All these matters open out a wide vista to German statesmanship, if it
is equal to its task, and make the general outlook less gloomy than
recent political events seemed to indicate. And, then, our policy can
count on a factor of strength such as no other State possesses--on an
army whose military efficiency, I am convinced, cannot be sufficiently
valued. Not that it is perfect in all its arrangements and details. We
have amply shown the contrary. But the spirit which animates the troops,
the ardour of attack, the heroism, the loyalty which prevail amongst
them, justify the highest expectations. I am certain that if they are
soon to be summoned to arms, their exploits will astonish the world,
provided only that they are led with skill and determination. The German
nation, too--of this I am equally convinced--will rise to the height of
its great duty. A mighty force which only awaits the summons sleeps in
its soul. Whoever to-day can awaken the slumbering idealism of this
people, and rouse the national enthusiasm by placing before its eyes a
worthy and comprehensible ambition, will be able to sweep this people on
in united strength to the highest efforts and sacrifices, and will
achieve a truly magnificent result.

In the consciousness of being able at any time to call up these forces,
and in the sure trust that they will not fail in the hour of danger,
our Government can firmly tread the path which leads to a splendid future;
but it will not be able to liberate all the forces of Germany unless it
wins her confidence by successful action and takes for its motto the
brave words of Goethe:

"Bid defiance to every power!
Ever valiant, never cower!
To the brave soldier open flies
The golden gate of Paradise."


After I had practically finished the preceding pages, the Franco-German
convention as to Morocco and the Congo Compensation were published; the
Turko-Italian War broke out; the revolution in China assumed dimensions
which point to the probability of new disorders in Eastern Asia; and,
lastly, it was known that not merely an _entente cordiale,_ but a real
offensive and defensive alliance, aimed at us, exists between France and
England. Such an alliance does not seem to be concluded permanently
between the two States, but clearly every possibility of war has been
foreseen and provided for.

I have been able to insert all the needful references to the two first
occurrences in my text; but the light which has lately been cast on the
Anglo-French conventions compels me to make a few concluding remarks.

The German Government, from important reasons which cannot be discussed,
have considered it expedient to avoid, under present conditions, a
collision with England or France at any cost. It has accomplished this
object by the arrangement with France, and it may be, of course, assumed
that no further concessions were attainable, since from the first it was
determined not to fight at present. Only from this aspect can the
attitude of the Government towards France and England be considered
correct. It is quite evident from her whole attitude that Great Britain
was resolved to take the chance of a war. Her immediate preparations for
war, the movements of her ships, and the attack of English high finance
on the foremost German banking establishments, which took place at this
crisis, exclude all doubt on the point. We have probably obtained the
concessions made by France only because she thought the favourable
moment for the long-planned war had not yet come. Probably she will wait
until, on the one hand, the Triple Alliance is still more loosened and
Russia's efficiency by sea and land is more complete, and until, on the

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