Marching merely for training purposes in large formations, with food supplied from the field-kitchens during the march, would also be of considerable value provided that care is taken to execute the march in the shortest possible time, and to replace the provisions consumed by bringing fresh supplies forward from the rear; this process is only properly seen when the march, with supplies as if in war, is continued for several days. It is naturally not enough to undertake these manoeuvres once in a way; they must be a permanent institution if they are intended to develop a sound knowledge of marching in the army. Finally, flank marches must be practised, sometimes in separate columns, sometimes in army formation. The flank marches of separate columns will, of course, be useful only when they are combined with practice in feeding an army as if in war, so that the commissariat columns march on the side away from the enemy, in a parallel line, and are thence brought up to the troops at the close of the march. Flank marches in army formation will have some value, even apart from any training in the commissariat system, since the simultaneous crossing of several marching columns on parallel by-roads is not an easy manoeuvre in itself. But this exercise will have its full value only when the regulation commissariat waggons are attached, which would have to move with them and furnish the supplies.
I also consider that operative movements in army formation extending over several days are desirable. Practice must be given in moving backwards and forwards in the most various combinations, in flank movements, and in doubling back, the lines of communication in the rear being blocked when necessary. Then only can all the difficulties which occur on such movements be shown one by one, and it can be seen where the lever must be applied in order to remove them. In this way alone can the higher commanders gain the necessary certainty in conducting such operations, so as to be able to employ them under the pressure of a hostile attack. An army so disciplined would, I imagine, acquire a pronounced superiority over any opponent who made his first experiments in such operations in actual war. The major strategic movements on both sides in the Franco-German War of 1870-71 sufficiently showed that.
I recognize naturally that all exercises on this scale would cost a great deal of money and could never all be carried out systematically one after the other. I wished, however, to ventilate the subject, firstly, in order to recommend all officers in high command to study the points of view under consideration—a thing they much neglect to do; secondly, because it might be sometimes profitable and possible to carry out in practice one or other of them—at the Imperial Manoeuvres, for example, or on some other occasion. How much could be saved in money alone and applied usefully to this purpose were the above-mentioned country manoeuvres of the artillery suspended? From reasons of economy all the commissariat waggons and columns need not actually be employed on such manoeuvres. It would be useful, however, if, in addition to one detachment equipped on a war footing, the head waggons of the other groups were present and were moved along at the proper distance from each other and from the detachment, which could mainly be fed from the kitchen waggon. It would thus be possible to get a sort of presentation of the whole course of the commissariat business and to acquire valuable experience. It is, indeed, extraordinarily difficult to arrange such manoeuvres properly, and it must be admitted that much friction and many obstacles are got rid of if only the heads of the groups are marked out, and that false ideas thus arise which may lead to erroneous conclusions; but under careful direction such manoeuvres would certainly not be wholly useless, especially if attention is mainly paid to the matters which are really essential. They would, at any rate, be far more valuable than many small manoeuvres, which can frequently be replaced by exercises on the large drill-grounds, than many expensive trainings in the country, which are of no real utility, or than many other military institutions which are only remotely connected with the object of training under active service conditions. All that does not directly promote this object must be erased from our system of education at a time when the highest values are at stake.
Even then exercise in operations on a large scale cannot often be carried out, primarily because of the probable cost, and next because it is not advisable to interrupt too often the tactical training of the troops.
It must be repeated in a definite cycle in each large formation, so that eventually all superior officers may have the opportunity of becoming practically acquainted with these operations, and also that the troops may become familiarized with the modern commissariat system; but since such practical exercises must always be somewhat incomplete, they must also be worked out beforehand theoretically. It is not at all sufficient that the officers on the General Staff and the Intendants have a mastery of these subjects. The rank and file must be well up in them; but especially the officers who will be employed on the supply service—that is to say, the transport officers of the standing army and those officers on the furlough establishment, who would be employed as column commanders.
The practical service in the transport battalions and the duties performed by the officers of the last-mentioned category who are assigned to these battalions are insufficient to attain this object. They learn from these mainly practical duties next to nothing of the system as a whole. It would therefore be advisable that all these officers should go through a special preliminary course for this service, in which the whole machinery of the army movements would be explained to them by the officers of the General Staff and the higher transport service officers, and they would then learn by practical examples to calculate the whole movement of the columns in the most varied positions with precise regard to distances and time. This would be far more valuable for war than the many and often excessive trainings in driving, etc., on which so much time is wasted. The technical driver's duty is very simple in all columns and trains, but it is not easy to know in each position what is the crucial point, in order to be able, when occasion arises, to act independently.
While, therefore, on the one hand, driving instruction must be thoroughly carried out, on the other hand, the institution of a scientific transport service course, in which, by practical examples out of military history, the importance of these matters can be explained, is under present circumstances an absolute necessity. I have shown elsewhere how necessary it is to proceed absolutely systematically in the arrangements for relays of supplies, since the operative capabilities of the army depend on this system. Its nature, however, cannot be realized by the officers concerned like a sudden inspiration when mobilization takes place; knowledge of its principles must be gained by study, and a proof of the complete misapprehension of the importance which this service has attained under modern conditions is that officers are supposed to be able to manage it successfully without having made in peace-time a profound scientific study of the matter.
The transport service has advanced to a place of extraordinary importance in the general system of modern warfare. It should be appreciated accordingly. Every active transport service officer ought, after some years' service, to attend a scientific course; all the senior officers on the furlough establishment intended for transport service ought, as their first duty, to be summoned to attend such a course. If these educational courses were held in the autumn in the training camps of the troops, they would entail little extra cost, and an inestimable advantage would be gained with a very trifling outlay.
The results of such a measure can only be fully realized in war, when the superior officers also thoroughly grasp these matters and do not make demands contrary to the nature of the case, and therefore impossible to be met. They should therefore be obliged to undergo a thorough education in the practical duties of the General Staff, and not merely in leading troops in action.
This reflection leads to the discussion of the momentous question how, generally, the training of the superior officers for the great war should be managed, and how the manoeuvres ought to be reorganized with a view to the training. The essential contradiction between our obsolete method of training and the completely altered demands of a new era appears here with peculiar distinctness.
A large part of our superior commanders pass through the General Staff, while part have attended at least the military academy; but when these men reach the higher positions what they learnt in their youth has long become out of date. The continuation school is missing. It can be replaced only by personal study; but there is generally insufficient time for this, and often a lack of interest. The daily duties of training troops claim all the officer's energy, and he needs great determination and love of hard work to continue vigorously his own scientific education. The result is, that comparatively few of our superior officers have a fairly thorough knowledge, much less an independently thought out view, of the conditions of war on the great scale. This would cost dearly in real war. Experience shows that it is not enough that the officers of the General Staff attached to the leader are competent to fill up this gap. The leader, if he cannot himself grasp the conditions, becomes the tool of his subordinates; he believes he is directing and is himself being directed. This is a far from healthy condition. Our present manoeuvres are, as already mentioned, only occasionally a school for officers in a strategical sense, and from the tactical point of view they do not meet modern requirements. The minor manoeuvres especially do not represent what is the most important feature in present-day warfare—i.e., the sudden concentration of larger forces on the one side and the impossibility, from space considerations, of timely counter-movements on the other. The minor manoeuvres are certainly useful in many respects. The commanders learn to form decisions and to give orders, and these are two important matters; but the same result would follow from manoeuvres on the grand scale, which would also to some extent reproduce the modern conditions of warfare.
Brigade manoeuvres especially belong to a past generation, and merely encourage wrong ideas. All that the soldiers learn from them—that is, fighting in the country—can be taught on the army drill-grounds. Divisional manoeuvres are still of some value even to the commanders. The principles of tactical leadership in detail can be exemplified in them; but the first instructive manoeuvres in the modern sense are those of the army corps; still more valuable are the manoeuvres on a larger scale, in which several army corps are combined, especially when the operating divisions are considered part of one whole, and are compelled to act in connection with one grand general scheme of operation. The great art in organizing manoeuvres is to reproduce such conditions, for only in this way can the strain of the general situation and the collective mass of individual responsibility, such as exist in actual warfare, be distinctly brought home. This is a most weighty consideration. The superior officers must have clearly brought before their eyes the limits of the possible and the impossible in modern warfare, in order to be trained to deal with great situations.
The requirements which these reflections suggest are the restriction of small-scale manoeuvres in favour of the large and predominantly strategical manoeuvres, and next the abolition of some less important military exercises in order to apply the money thus saved in this direction. We must subject all our resources to a single test—that they conduce to the perfecting of a modern army. We must subject all our resources to a single test—that they conduce to the perfecting of a modern army. If the military drill-grounds are suitably enlarged (a rather difficult but necessary process, since, in view of the range of the artillery and the mass tactics, they have generally become too small) a considerable part of the work which is done in the divisional manoeuvres could be carried out on them. The money saved by this change could be devoted to the large army manoeuvres. One thing is certain: a great impulse must be given to the development of our manoeuvre system if it is to fulfil its purpose as formerly; in organization and execution these manoeuvres must be modern in the best sense of the word.
It seems, however, quite impossible to carry out this sort of training on so comprehensive a scale that it will by itself be sufficient to educate serviceable commanders for the great war. The manoeuvres can only show their full value if the officers of every rank who take part in them have already had a competent training in theory.
To encourage this preliminary training of the superior officers is thus one of the most serious tasks of an efficient preparation for war. These must not regard their duty as lying exclusively in the training of the troops, but must also be ever striving further to educate themselves and their subordinates for leadership in the great war. Strategic war games on a large scale, which in the army corps can be conducted by the commanding Generals, and in the army-inspections by the Inspectors, seem to me to be the only means by which this end can be attained. All superior officers must be criticized by the standard of their efficiency in superior commands. The threads of all this training will meet in the hands of the Chief of the General Army Staff as the strategically responsible authority.
It seems undesirable in any case to leave it more or less to chance to decide whether those who hold high commands will be competent or not for their posts. The circumstances that a man is an energetic commander of a division, or as General in command maintains discipline in his army corps, affords no conclusive proof that he is fitted to be the leader of an army. Military history supplies many instances of this.
No proof is required to show that under the conditions of modern warfare the reconnoitring and screening units require special training. The possibility and the success of all operations are in the highest degree dependent on their activity. I have for years pointed out the absolute necessity of preparing our cavalry officers scientifically for their profession, and I can only repeat the demand that our cavalry riding-schools should be organized also as places of scientific education. I will also once more declare that it is wrong that the bulk of the training of the army cavalry should consist in the divisional cavalry exercises on the military drill-grounds. These exercises do not correspond at all to actual conditions, and inculcate quite wrong notions in the officers, as every cavalry officer in high command finds out who, having been taught on the drill-ground, has to lead a cavalry division on manoeuvres.
The centre of gravity of effectiveness in war rests on the directing of operations and on the skilful transition from strategical independence to combination in attack; the great difficulty of leading cavalry lies in these conditions, and this can no more be learnt on the drill-grounds than systematic screening and reconnaissance duties. The perpetual subject of practice on the drill-grounds, a cavalry engagement between two divisions in close formation, will hardly ever occur in war. Any unprejudiced examination of the present conditions must lead to this result, and counsels the cavalry arm to adopt a course which may be regarded as a serious preparation for war.
It is a truly remarkable fact that the artillery, which in fact, always acts only in combination with the other arms, carries out annually extensive independent manoeuvres, as if it had by itself a definite effect on the course of the campaign, while the army cavalry, which always takes the field independently, hardly ever trains by itself, but carefully practises that combination with infantry which is only rarely necessary in war. This clearly demonstrates the unsystematic and antiquated methods of all our training.
Practice in reconnoitring and screening tactics, as well as raids on a large scale, are what is wanted for the training of the cavalry. Co-operation with the air-fleet will be a further development, so soon as aviation has attained such successes that it may be reckoned as an integral factor of army organization. The airship division and the cavalry have kindred duties, and must co-operate under the same command, especially for screening purposes, which are all-important.
The methods for the training of pioneers which correspond fully to modern requirements have been pointed out by General v. Beseler. This arm need only be developed further in the direction which this distinguished officer has indicated in order to satisfy the needs of the next war.
In the field war its chief importance will be found to be in the support of the infantry in attacks on fortified positions, and in the construction of similar positions. Tactical requirements must, however, be insisted upon in this connection. The whole training must be guided by considerations of tactics. This is the main point. As regards sieges, especial attention must be devoted to training the miners, since the object is to capture rapidly the outlying forts and to take the fortresses which can resist the attack of the artillery.
The duties of the Army Service Corps[B] are clear. They must, on the one hand, be efficiently trained for the intelligence department, especially for the various duties of the telegraph branch, and be ready to give every kind of assistance to the airships; on the other hand, they must look after and maintain the strategical capacities of the army. The rapid construction of railroads, especially light railways, the speedy repair of destroyed lines, the protection of traffic on military railways, and the utilization of motors for various purposes, are the duties for which these troops must be trained. A thorough knowledge and mastery of the essential principles of operations are indispensable qualifications in their case also. They can only meet their many-sided and all-important duties by a competent acquaintance with the methods and system of army movements on every scale. It is highly important, therefore, that the officers of the Army Service Corps should be thoroughly trained in military science.
[Footnote B: Verkehrstruppen.]
Thus in every direction we see the necessity to improve the intellectual development of the army, and to educate it to an appreciation of the close connection of the multifarious duties of war. This appreciation is requisite, not merely for the leaders and special branches of the service; it must permeate the whole corps of officers, and to some degree the non-commissioned officers also. It will bear good fruit in the training of the men. The higher the stage on which the teacher stands, and the greater his intellectual grasp of the subject, the more complete will be his influence on the scholars, the more rapidly and successfully will he reach the understanding of his subordinates, and the more thoroughly will he win from them that confidence and respect which are the firmest foundations of discipline. All the means employed to improve the education of our establishment of officers in the science of war and general subjects will be richly repaid in efficient service on every other field of practical activity. Intellectual exercise gives tone to brain and character, and a really deep comprehension of war and its requirements postulates a certain philosophic mental education and bent, which makes it possible to assess the value of phenomena in their reciprocal relations, and to estimate correctly the imponderabilia. The effort to produce this higher intellectual standard in the officers' corps must be felt in their training from the military school onwards, and must find its expression in a school of military education of a higher class than exists at present.
A military academy as such was contemplated by Scharnhorst. To-day it assumed rather the character of a preparatory school for the General Staff. Instruction in history and mathematics is all that remains of its former importance. The instruction in military history was entirely divested of its scientific character by the method of application employed, and became wholly subservient to tactics. In this way the meaning of the study of military history was obscured, and even to-day, so far as I know, the lectures on military history primarily serve purposes of directly professional education. I cannot say how far the language teaching imparts the spirit of foreign tongues. At any rate, it culminates in the examination for interpreterships, and thus pursues a directly practical end. This development was in a certain sense necessary. A quite specifically professional education of the officers of the General Staff is essential under present conditions. I will not decide whether it was therefore necessary to limit the broad and truly academical character of the institution. In any case, we need in the army of to-day an institution which gives opportunity for the independent study of military science from the higher standpoint, and provides at the same time a comprehensive general education. I believe that the military academy could be developed into such an institution, without any necessity of abandoning the direct preparation of the officers for service on the General Staff. By the side of the military sciences proper, which might be limited in many directions, lectures on general scientific subjects might be organized, to which admission should be free. In similar lectures the great military problems might be discussed from the standpoint of military philosophy, and the hearers might gain some insight into the legitimacy of war, its relations to politics, the co-operation of material and imponderable forces, the importance of free personality under the pressure of necessary phenomena, sharp contradictions and violent opposition, as well as into the duties of a commander viewed from the higher standpoint.
Limitation and concentration of the compulsory subjects, such as are now arranged on an educational plan in three consecutive annual courses, and the institution of free lectures on subjects of general culture, intended not only to educate officers of the General Staff, but to train men who are competent to discharge the highest military and civic duties—this is what is required for the highest military educational institution of the German army.
PREPARATION FOR THE NAVAL WAR
"Germany's future lies on the sea." A proud saying, which contains a great truth. If the German people wish to attain a distinguished future and fulfil their mission of civilization, they must adopt a world policy and act as a World Power. This task can only be performed if they are supported by an adequate sea power. Our fleet must be so strong at least that a war with us involves such dangers, even to the strongest opponent, that the losses, which might be expected, would endanger his position as a World Power.
Now, as proved in another place, we can only stake our forces safely on 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 existence.
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 reservists.
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 devotedly.
THE ARMY AND POPULAR EDUCATION
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 battlefield.
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 service.
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 hitherto.
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 world.
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 physique.
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 fatherland."
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.