German Problems and Personalities
by Charles Sarolea
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German Problems and Personalities




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II. MY FORECASTS OF 1906 AND 1912 12


IV. THE GERMAN WAR-TRIUMVIRATE 85 (i.) Nietzsche. (ii.) Montaigne and Nietzsche. (iii.) Treitschke. (iv.) Bernhardi.


















Three years ago there was one man in Europe who had a political sight so clear that his words then written seem to-day uncanny in their wisdom.[1]

[1] One of the most eminent American theologians, Bishop Brent, wrote in an article on "Speculation and Prophecy": "In Dr. Sarolea's volume, 'The Anglo-German Problem,' published in 1912, there is a power of precognition so startling that one can understand a sceptic of the twenty-first century raising serious doubts as to whether parts of it were not late interpolation." Mr. Gilbert Keith Chesterton in his "Crimes of England" applied to the "Anglo-German Problem" the epithet "almost magical."

This man saw the present war; he saw that Belgium would be invaded by Germany; he saw that the Germans hated England with a profound and bitter hate; that German diplomatic blunders had placed that nation in almost complete isolation in the world; that the Triple Alliance was really only a Dual Alliance, popular feeling in Italy becoming increasingly hostile to Austria and to Prussia; that Germans felt their culture to be superior to the civilization of the rest of the world, and themselves to be a superior race, with the right to rule other peoples; that Prussianism and Junkerism and militarism were in complete control of the German soul; that Germany had ambitions for world empire, a recurrence of "the old Napoleonic dream"; that the danger to European peace lay with Germany and not with England; that Germans believed war to be essentially moral and the mainspring of national progress; that the whole German people had become Bismarckian; that the Germans hoped to obtain by a victory over England that shadowless place in the sun toward which they began to leap when they beat France in 1870.

The seer who thus saw is Dr. Charles Sarolea, who recently came to the United States in the interests of his country, one of the most distinguished of Belgian scholars, a friend of King Albert, holder of Belgian decorations and honours from British learned societies, for the last fourteen years Belgian Consul in Edinburgh, and for the last twenty-one years head of the French and Romance Department at the University of Edinburgh. His vision was set out in "The Anglo-German Problem," written in 1912, now published in an authorized American edition, perhaps the most accurate forecast which has been penned of to-day's conflict, and certainly one of the most exact analyses of the German nation made before the world learned, since last August, to know it as it is—as Sarolea, master delineator of a nation's character, drew it. Clear, sane, calm, logical, strong—such is Dr. Sarolea's book, with its "rare perspicacity" and "remarkable sense of political realities," in the words of King Albert's appreciation of the work.

Dr. Sarolea, looking at Germany from the British Isles, where he was writing, perceived that "war is actually unavoidable" unless a spiritual miracle was wrought; that Europe was "drifting slowly but steadily toward an awful catastrophe." Why? Because Germany was strong, envious, ambitious, conceited, arrogant, unscrupulous, and dissatisfied. It was in Germany that "the pagan gods of the Nibelungen are forging their deadly weapons," for Germans believe national superiority is due to military superiority. Dr. Sarolea named as a war year this very year[2] in which we now are when he said:

[2] 1915.

"Believing, as they do, that to-day they are rich and prosperous mainly because in 1870 they beat the French people, why should they not believe and trust that in 1915 they would become even stronger and richer if they succeeded in beating the English?"

And the conflict, when it comes, will be "a political and religious crusade," rather than a mere economic war, for the conflict between England and Germany "is the old conflict between liberalism and despotism, between industrialism and militarism, between progress and reaction, between the masses and the classes."

So many other important points are made in Dr. Sarolea's closely written book, in which practically every sentence contains a fact, an idea, or a prophecy, that it is not possible in this review to do more than present a few of them in the summary which follows. Though the present tense is used by Dr. Sarolea and the reviewer, it should be constantly remembered that Dr. Sarolea was thinking in 1912, not since August, 1914.

Germany is in "tragic moral isolation." The moral and intellectual influence of German culture is steadily diminishing. Other nations feel a universal distrust and dislike toward Germany. So great is this antipathy that the Germans imagine there is a malignant conspiracy against them. An upstart nation, suddenly wealthy and powerful, Germany has developed an inordinate self-conceit and self-assertion. The German glories in being a realist. He thinks only of political power and colonial expansion. Might is the supreme test of right. He constantly emphasizes the indelible character of the German race. Germans are suffering from "acute megalomania." They think the English decadent, the French doomed to premature extinction, the Russians "rotten." Germany is the "reactionary force in international politics."

England believes the building of the German Navy is mainly directed against her, though Germany says she is building to protect her colonies and commerce. Yet it is not reasonably possible so to account for the German fleet.

The greatest danger to England is not invasion of the British Isles, but invasion of Belgium and France. These countries are the "Achilles heel of the British Empire." The German strategic railways on the Belgian frontiers show that Germany is far more likely to invade Belgium than England, Belgium again becoming the cockpit of Europe.

Germany feels that she has grievances against England; thus her hatred. She thinks England has checked her commercial expansion. But this is not true, for English Free Trade has been one of the most important contributory causes of German prosperity.

Germany thinks England has arrested her colonial expansion; Germany says every other great nation but herself has been permitted to build up a colonial empire; thus she is prevented from attaining her natural growth. But this is not true. England could not have checked her colonial aspirations, because Germany had no colonial aspirations until recently. When Germany did start to seek colonies, she met everywhere conflicting claims of England, but this was because England was already in possession, having begun her colonial policy years before Germany entered the race. Bismarck was largely responsible for Germany's now having so small a colonial territory.

Germany thinks she has another grievance—that England has hemmed her in with a ring of enemies. But Germany is friendless because of her mistakes. Bismarck alienated the Russians for ever in 1878 at the Treaty of Berlin, making a Franco-Russian understanding unavoidable. The Kruger telegram of 1896, the outburst of anti-British feeling during the Boer War, the German naval programme, opened England's eyes to her danger; thus was England forced to seek France and Russia.

The Kaiser is intensely religious, claiming to be "the anointed of the Lord." Yet he is a materialist, an opportunist, and mainly trusts to brute force. The navy is his creation. He brandishes the sword, saying he loves peace. Napoleon III. used to express his love for peace, yet brought on the most disastrous war of French history; Nicholas II. started as the peacemaker of Europe, yet brought about the bloodiest war in Russian history. "Are the Kaiser's pacific protests as futile, are his sympathies as shallow, as those of a Napoleon or a Nicholas?"

Dr. Sarolea closes his book thus:

"We can only hope that England, which to-day more than any other country—more, even, than republican France—represents the ideals of a pacific and industrial democracy, may never be called upon to assert her supremacy in armed conflict, and to safeguard those ideals against a wanton attack on the part of the most formidable and most systematic military power the world has ever seen."



[3] Preface written for the American Edition of the "Anglo-German Problem," published by Putnam.


The book of which a new and popular edition is now presented to the American public has very little in common with the thousand and one war publications which are distracting the attention of a bewildered and satiated reader. It was not compiled in feverish haste since the war began. It was written years before the war, and represents the outcome of two decades of study and travel in Germany.

The volume was first published in 1912 to dispel the false sense of security which was blinding European opinion to the imminent perils ahead, to warn Britain of the appalling catastrophe towards which all nations were drifting, and to give an accurate estimate of the forces which were making for war. I attempted to prove that Germany and not Britain or France or Russia was the storm-centre of international politics. I attempted to prove that the differences between Germany and Britain were not due to substantial grievances, but that those grievances were purely imaginary; that such catch-phrases as taking Germany's place in the sun were entirely misleading, and that both the grievances and the catch-phrases were merely diverting the public mind from the one real issue at stake, the clash and conflict between two irreconcilable political creeds—the Imperialism of Great Britain, granting equal rights to all, based on Free Trade, and aiming at a federation of self-governing communities; and the Imperialism of Germany, based on despotism and antagonism and aiming at the military ascendancy of one Power over subject races.

I further attempted to show how the German people were in the grip of the Prussian military machine, of a reactionary bureaucracy, and of a Prussian feudal Junkerthum; how behind that military machine and that feudal Junkerthum there were even more formidable moral and spiritual forces at work; how the whole German nation were under the spell of a false political creed; how the Universities, the Churches, the Press, were all possessed with the same exclusive nationalism; and how, being misled by its spiritual leaders, the whole nation was honestly and intensely convinced that in the near future the German Empire must challenge the world in order to establish its supremacy over the Continent of Europe.


Habent sua fata libelli! Motley's "Rise of the Dutch Republic" was refused by the illustrious house of Murray. The now historical "Foundations" of Chamberlain were rejected for twenty years by English publishers, until the translation brought a little fortune to Mr. John Lane. Without in the least suggesting a comparison with those famous works, I only want to point out that the "Anglo-German Problem" has passed through as strange literary vicissitudes. A book written by a sympathetic and devoted student of German literature, and who for twenty years had been working for the diffusion of German culture, was denounced as anti-German. A book inspired from the first page to the last with pacific and democratic ideals was denounced as a militarist and mischievous production. A temperate judicial analysis was dubbed as alarmist and sensational and bracketed with the scaremongerings of the Yellow Press. The radical Daily News of London dismissed my volume with a contemptuous notice. The Edinburgh reviewer of the Scotsman pompously declared that such a book could do no good.

To-day both the Press and the public have made ample if belated amends for the unjust treatment meted out to the "Anglo-German Problem" on its first appearance. His Majesty King Albert has emphasized the prophetic character of the book, and has paid it the high compliment of recommending it to members of his Government. University statesmen like President Butler, eminent lawyers like Mr. James Beck, illustrious philosophers like Professor Bergson, have testified to its fairness, its moderation, and its political insight. Almost unnoticed on its publication in 1912, the "Anglo-German Problem" is to-day one of the three books on the war most widely read throughout the British Empire, and is being translated into the French, Dutch, and Spanish languages.


Not only have the principles and general conclusions propounded in the "Anglo-German Problem" received signal confirmation from recent events, but the forecasts and anticipations have been verified in every detail. It is the common fate of war books to become very quickly out of date. After four years, there is not one paragraph which has been contradicted by actual fact. Even the chapter on the Baghdad Railway, written in 1906 and published as a separate pamphlet nine years ago, remains substantially correct. One of the leading magnates of Wall Street wrote to me: "Events have not only unfolded themselves in the way you anticipated, but they have happened for the identical reasons which you indicated." I pointed out the fatal peril of the Austrian-Serbian differences and of the Drang nach Osten policy, and it is those Serbian-Austrian differences which have precipitated the war. I prophesied that the invasion of Belgium and not the invasion of England was the contingency to be dreaded, and Belgium has become the main theatre of military operations. I emphasized that the conflict was one of fundamental moral and political ideals rather than of economic interests, and the war has developed into a religious crusade. I prophesied that the war would be long and cruel, and it has proved the most ruthless war of modern times.

All the forces which I prophesied would make for war have made for war: the reactionary policy of the Junkerthum, the internal troubles, the personality of the Kaiser, the propaganda of the Press and of the Universities. Similarly, the forces which were expected to make for peace, and which I prophesied would not make for peace, have failed to work for peace. Few publicists anticipated that the millions of German Social Democrats would behave as timid henchmen of the Prussian Junker, and my friend Vandervelde, leader of the International Social Democracy and now Belgian Minister of State, indignantly repudiated my reflections on his German comrades. Alas! the Gospel according to St. Marx has been as ineffectual as the Gospel according to St. Marc. The Social Democracy which called itself the International (with a capital I) has proved selfishly nationalist, and the masses which had not the courage to fight for their rights under Kaiser Bebel are now slaughtering their French and English brethren, and are meekly enlisted in the legions of Kaiser William.

The "Anglo-German Problem," written by a writer of Belgian origin who foresaw the catastrophe threatening his native country, will be followed up shortly by another book on the "Reconstruction of Belgium." Belgium has been not only the champion of European freedom; she has also been the innocent victim of the old order. It is only in the fitness of things that after the war Belgium shall become the keystone of the new International Order. The whole of Europe is ultimately responsible for the Belgian tragedy. The whole of Europe must therefore be interested in and pledged to the restoration of Belgium and to the liberation of the Belgian people, now crushed and bleeding under the heel of the Teutonic invader.


MY FORECASTS OF 1906 AND 1912[4]

[4] This chapter is entirely made up of extracts taken from my pamphlet, "The Baghdad Railway," published in 1906, and from my book, "The Anglo-German Problem," published in 1912.


"Europe is drifting slowly but steadily towards an awful catastrophe, which, if it does happen, will throw back civilization for the coming generation, as the war of 1870 threw back civilization for the generation which followed and which inherited its dire legacy of evil. For the last ten years two great Western Powers and two kindred races have become increasingly estranged, and have been engaging in military preparations which are taxing to the utmost the resources of the people, and are paralyzing social and political reform in both countries. A combination of many causes, moral and political, has bred suspicion and distrust, and the fallacious assumption of conflicting interests has turned suspicion into hatred. Only a year ago England and Germany stood on the brink of war. If, after the coup of Agadir, Germany had persisted in her policy, the conflagration would have ensued, the storm would have burst out. The war-cloud has temporarily lifted, but it has not passed away. The danger is as acute as it was, because the causes which produced the recent outburst are still with us, and the malignant passions are gathering strength with each passing day.

This formidable evil is threatening England, but it does not originate in England, and England cannot be held responsible for it. The period of aggressive Imperialism has passed away. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain and Mr. Rudyard Kipling, in so far as they once represented the old bellicose Imperialism, to-day are exploded forces. The English people were never more peacefully inclined, and Liberals and Tories are united in their desire for a pacific solution of the present difficulties.

It is Germany and not England which is the storm-centre, the volcanic zone, in international politics. From there have come, ever since 1860, the tension and friction, the suspicion and distrust. It is there that the pagan gods of the Nibelungen are forging their deadly weapons."


"German and English publicists, whilst admitting the existence of a feeling of hostility, point out the many unmistakable signs of goodwill heralding a better understanding in the future. They point to the frequent exchange of international courtesies, to the periodical visits of Members of Parliament and of representative men of the Churches; they point to the visit of Viscount Haldane; and last, but not least, they point to the many pacific assurances of the German Kaiser. With regard to the utterances of the Kaiser, I can only say that if the Kaiser has made many pacific speeches, his aggressive speeches have been even more numerous. I have no doubt that the Kaiser is perfectly sincere, and I believe him to be animated with the most cordial feelings for this country. If I am asked to explain the contradiction, I can only see one explanation, and it is not one which I am very willing to admit. And the explanation is this: when he is expressing words of peace and goodwill he is speaking in his own private capacity and as the grandson of an English queen. On the contrary, whenever he utters words of ill-will and menace, whenever he waves the flag, when he shows the mailed fist, he is acting as the representative and speaking as the spokesman of a considerable fraction amongst his subjects.

That there has existed in Germany a very widespread feeling of hostility against the English people we have uncontrovertible proof. And the evidence we have on no less an authority than the Kaiser himself. In the famous interview published by the Daily Telegraph, William II. emphatically testified to the existence and to the persistence of the feeling which he had systematically attempted to counteract. The admission raised legitimate indignation in Germany. It was ill-advised. It was calculated to intensify the very animosity which it deprecated. But the fact itself, the existence of the animosity, could not be disputed. After all, the Kaiser ought to know the feelings, if not of the majority of his subjects, at least of those ruling classes with whom he comes in contact."


"Contemporary German philosophy is a 'war philosophy.' In France we may find isolated thinkers, like Joseph de Maistre, who are the apostles of war, who maintain that war is a Divine and providential institution, one of the eternal verities. In Germany the paradoxes of de Maistre are the commonplaces of historians and moralists. To an Englishman war is a dwindling force, an anachronism. It may still sometimes be a necessity, a dura lex, an ultima ratio, but it is always a monstrous calamity. In other words, to an Englishman war is evil, war is immoral. On the contrary, to the German war is essentially moral. Indeed, it is the source of the highest morality, of the most valuable virtues, and without war the human race would speedily degenerate. It is the mainspring of national progress. There are three causes which have ensured the present greatness of the German Empire: moral virtue in the individual, political unity, and economic prosperity. If we were to believe modern theorists, Germany owes all three to the beneficent action of war. Germany is not indebted for its culture to the genius of its writers or artists, but to the iron and blood of its statesmen and warriors. It is the glorious triumvirate of Bismarck, Moltke, and von Roon who have been the master-builders of the Vaterland.

Our main contention is, that as the pacific philosophy of Herder and Kant, of Goethe and Lessing, provides the key to the old Germany described in Madame de Stael's masterpiece, even so the military philosophy of Mommsen and Treitschke, of Bismarck and Nietzsche, gives us the key of modern Prussianized Germany. The whole German people have become Bismarckian, and believe that it is might which creates right. The whole of the younger generation have become Nietzschean in politics, and believe in the will to power—der Wille zur Macht. That political philosophy is to-day the living and inspiring ideal which informs German policy. And it is that philosophy which we have to keep constantly in mind if we wish to understand the currents and under-currents of contemporary politics and make a correct forecast of the future; if we wish to distinguish between what is real and unreal in international relations, between the professions of politicians and the aims and aspirations of the people. German statesmen may protest about their love of peace, but the service they render to peace is only lip service. Peace is only a means, war is the goal. We are reminded of Professor Delbrueck's assertion that, considering the infinitely complex conditions of modern warfare, many years of peace are necessary to and must be utilized for the preparation of the wars which are to come.

How, then, can we be reassured by any German pacifist protests and demonstrations? How can we believe that German peace is anything more than a precarious truce as long as German statesmen, German thinkers, German teachers and preachers, unanimously tell us that the philosophy of war is the only gospel of salvation? How can a patriotic German, if he is consistent, abstain eventually from waging war when he is firmly convinced that his country owes her political unity, her moral temper, and her Imperial prosperity, whatever she is and whatever she has, mainly to the agency of war? When war has done so much for Germany in the past, will it not do greater things for Germany in the future?

War may be a curse or it may be a blessing. If war is a curse, then the wells of public opinion have been poisoned in Germany, perhaps for generations to come. If war is a blessing, if the philosophy of war is indeed the gospel of the super-man, sooner or later the German people are bound to put that gospel into practice. They must look forward with anxious and eager desire to the glorious day when once more they are able to fight the heroic battles of Teutonism, when they are able to fulfil the providential destinies of the German super-race, the chosen champions of civilization."


"Uninfluenced by those ominous signs of the times, English and German optimists still refuse to surrender, still persist in their optimism. They argue that the situation is no doubt serious, but that those outbursts of popular feeling in Germany, violent as they are, have largely been caused by English suspicion and distrust, and that there has been nothing in the German policy to justify that English suspicion and distrust. After all, deeds are more important than words, and by her deeds Germany has proved for forty-two years that she is persistently pacific. Since 1870 Russia has made war against Turkey and against Japan. England has made war against the Transvaal. Italy has waged war against Turkey. France after Fashoda would have declared war against England, and after Tangier would have declared war against Germany, if France had been prepared. Of all the Great Powers, Germany alone for nearly half a century has been determined to keep the peace of the world.

The reply to this objection is very simple. I am not examining here whether a state of affairs which has transformed Europe into an armed camp of six million soldiers, and which absorbs for military expenditure two-thirds of the revenue of European States, can be appropriately called a state of peace. It is certainly not a pax romana. It is most certainly not a pax britannica. It may be a pax teutonica or, rather, a pax borussica, but such as it is, ruinous and demoralizing, it is also lamentably precarious and perilously unstable. And if Germany has kept this pax borussica for forty-two years, it has not been the fault of the German Government. Rather has it been kept because she has been prevented from declaring war by outside interference; or because she has been able to carry out her policy and to achieve her ambitions without going the length of declaring war; or because a war would have been not only a heinous crime, but a political blunder.

But the real reason why Germany for forty years has kept the peace is because a war would have been both fatal and futile, injurious and superfluous. It would have been injurious, for it would have arrested the growing trade and the expanding industries of the empire. And, above all, it would have been superfluous, for in time of peace Germany reaped all the advantages which a successful war would have given her. For twenty-five years the German Empire wielded an unchallenged supremacy on the Continent of Europe. For twenty years she directed the course of international events.

But since the opening of the twentieth century Germany has ceased to be paramount; she has ceased to control European policy at her own sweet will, and weaker States have ceased to be given over to her tender mercies. To the Triple Alliance has been opposed the Triple Entente. The balance of power has been re-established. The three 'hereditary enemies'—England, France, and Russia—have joined hands, and have delivered Europe from the incubus of German suzerainty. German diplomacy has strained every effort to break the Triple Entente, in turn wooing and threatening France and Russia, keeping open the Moroccan sore as the Neapolitan lazzarone keeps open the wound which ensures his living, and finally challenging the naval supremacy of England, and preparing to become as powerful at sea as she is on the Continent."


"Precisely because the final issue will largely depend on the personality of the soldier, the moral and civic preparation must be at least as important as the technical, and here the Government has an important part to play through the school and through the Press. Both the school and the Press must both persistently emphasize the meaning and the necessity of war as an indispensable means of policy and of culture, and must inculcate the duty of personal sacrifice. To achieve that end the Government must have its own popular papers, whose aim it will be to stimulate patriotism, to preach loyalty to the Kaiser, to resist the disintegrating influence of Social Democracy.

But not least important is the political preparation for the war. Statesmanship and diplomacy confine themselves too much to consolidating alliances and entering into new understandings. Nothing could be more dangerous than to rely too much on treaties and alliances. Alliances are not final. Agreements are only conditional. They are only binding, rebus sic stantibus, as long as conditions remain the same—as long as it is in the interest of the allies to keep them; for nothing can compel a State to act against its own interest, and there is no alliance or bond in the world which can subsist if it is not based on the mutual advantage of both parties. It is therefore essential that the war shall be fought under such conditions that it shall be in the interest of every ally to be loyal to his engagements; and therefore it is essential for the State so to direct and combine political events as to produce a conjuncture of interests and to provoke the war at the most favourable moment."


"England cannot honestly admit the truth and reality of German grievances. England cannot admit that in the past she has ever adopted an attitude of contemptuous superiority towards the German people. Still less can England admit that she has systematically stood in the way of German colonial ambitions. She cannot admit it, for the simple reason that only a few years ago those German colonial ambitions did not exist. Almost to the end of his long rule, Bismarck would not have colonies, and he deliberately encouraged France in that policy of African expansion which Germany now objects to. Germany would probably have had a much larger colonial empire if she had chosen to have it. History teaches us that in the development of European colonization there are some nations, like the Spaniards and Portuguese, that have come too early in the field. There are other nations, like England and Russia, that have come in the nick of time. And, finally, there are nations that have come too late. The German people have arrived too late in the race for colonial empire. They may regret it, but surely it would be monstrous to use the fact as a grievance against the people of this country. I may bitterly regret that twenty years ago I had not the money or the energy or the foresight to invest in the development of Argentine, or that I did not buy an estate in Canada, which in those early days I might have got for a hundred pounds, and which to-day would be worth hundreds of thousands. But that is no reason why I should hate the present possessors of landed property in the Far West or in the Far South. That is no reason why I should wish to dispossess them of land which they have legitimately acquired, whether they owe it to their luck or to their pluck, to favourable circumstances or to their initiative and perseverance."


"The new grouping of Powers, which has reduced Germany from a position of sole supremacy to a position of equality, is not the result of any artificial combinations of diplomacy. Still less is it the result of a conspiracy, inspired by English envy and English hatred. It was not initiated by Edward VII. It has survived his death. To assume that England would have been capable of isolating Germany by her own single efforts, and in order to serve her own selfish purposes, is to attribute to England a power which she does not wield. If there has been a conspiracy, France, Italy, Russia, and the United States, inhabited by twenty million citizens who are German by birth or by descent, have all been willing accomplices. The Triple Entente has been a spontaneous revolt of Europe against German aggressiveness and German militarism.

England has not attempted to isolate Germany. She has only herself emerged from her isolation. If she can be accused of having made a grievous mistake in her foreign policy, it is that of having been blind for so long to the perils which threatened European liberty. Since 1870 she has submitted for twenty-five years to German predominance, because she had to oppose the colonial ambitions of France in Africa and the ambitions of Russia in Asia. To-day England has returned to her ancient traditions. She has never suffered for any length of time, and will never suffer as long as she remains a first-class Power, from the exclusive predominance of any one Continental nation. She has ever fought for the maintenance of the balance of power. She defended that balance against Charles V. and Philip II. in the sixteenth century, against Louis XIV. in the seventeenth, against Napoleon, against Nicholas I., and Alexander II. in the nineteenth century. She defends it to-day against William II. But she is no more the enemy of Germany to-day than she was the enemy of France or Russia ten years ago. And if the equilibrium of Europe were threatened to-morrow by Russia, as it is threatened to-day by Germany, England would become to-morrow the ally of Germany.

It may be contended, no doubt, that in opposing the supremacy of another empire on land, she is only defending her own supremacy on the sea. But the history of four hundred years convincingly shows that England in defending her own interests has always been fighting the battles of European liberty. And to-day more than ever, when Europe is transformed into an armed camp, when might has become the criterion of right, when all nations are living in perpetual dread of a European conflagration, the strict adherence of England to her old principle of the balance of power remains the best sanction of international law and the surest guarantee of the peace of the world."


"Whatever may be the cause of the state of mind of the Germans, they are certainly suffering just now from acute 'megalomania.' The abnormal self-conceit, the inflated national consciousness, express themselves in a thousand ways, some of which are naive and harmless, whilst others are grossly offensive. They show themselves in a craving for titles and in gaudy and tasteless public buildings;[5] in the thousand and one statues of Bismarck and William I.; they reveal themselves in the articles of journalists and in the writings of historians; but above all, the German megalomania finds expression in the seven thousand speeches and in the three hundred uniforms of the Kaiser. In examining the influence of William II. we shall come to the conclusion that it is his defects far more than his virtues that have made him the representative hero of the German people. His winged words voice the aspirations of his subjects. Like the Kaiser, every German believes that he is 'the salt of the earth'—Wir sind das Salz der Erde. Like Nietzsche, the modern German believes that the world must be ruled by a super-man, and that he is the super-man. Like Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the German is convinced that he belongs to a super-race, and that the Teuton has been the master-builder of European civilization."

[5] See an amusing article, "Ornamente," in the Zukunft.


"The self-assertion of the Germans and the contempt for the foreigner reveal themselves in their political dealings with other nations. German statesmen continue the methods of Bismarck without having his genius. German politicians delight in shaking the mailed fist, in waving the national banner with the Imperial black eagle, the ominous and symbolical bird of prey. Wherever they meet with opposition they at once resort to comminatory messages. Compare the methods of the Emperor William with those of Edward VII. Nothing illustrates better the differences between the characteristics of English and German diplomacy than the dramatic contrast between the bragging, indiscreet, impulsive, explosive manner of the Kaiser and the quiet, courteous manner of the English monarch. Nothing explains better the striking success which has attended English policy and the no less striking failure which has attended German policy. For in international as well as in private relations, intellectual superiority is often as efficient a weapon as an appeal to brute force. And all the might of the German Empire has not saved the German foreign policy from persistent bankruptcy. That bankruptcy is unanimously admitted even in Germany, and partly accounts for the present temper of the nation. The times have changed, and even the weak cannot now be bullied into submission. At the Algeciras Conference even those small nations whose most obvious interest it was to side with Germany gave their moral support to France."


"There still remains for us to examine one deeper reason why Germany is distrusted and disliked in Europe. She is mainly distrusted because she continues to be the reactionary force in international politics. Outside the sphere of German influence the democratic ideal has triumphed all over the civilized world, after centuries of heroic struggle and tragic catastrophes. But in Germany the old dogma is still supreme. Wherever German power has made itself felt for the last forty years—in Italy and Austria, in Russia and Turkey—it has countenanced reaction and tyranny. In politics Germany is to-day what Austria and Russia were in the days of the Holy Alliance, the power of darkness. Whilst in the provinces of science and art the German people are generally progressive, in politics the German Government is consistently retrogressive. It cannot be sufficiently emphasized and repeated that, more than any other State—more even than Russia—Prussia stands in the way of political advance. It was Prussia that helped to crush the Polish struggle for freedom in 1863; when, a few years ago, English public opinion was protesting against the Armenian massacres, the Kaiser stood loyally by Abdul Hamid and propped his tottering throne; when the Russian Liberals were engaged in a life-and-death struggle with Czardom, the Kaiser gave his moral support to Russian despotism. It is not too much to say that it is the evil influence of Prusso-Germany alone which keeps despotism alive in the modern world."


"It is difficult to exaggerate the political domination of Germany by Prussia. The practice belies the theory: it is not as German Emperor but as Prussian King that William II. rules the confederation. The larger is merged in the smaller. The poor barren plains of Brandenburg and Pomerania rule over the smiling vineyards and romantic mountains of the south and west. The German people are governed more completely from Berlin and Potsdam than the French were ever governed from Paris and Versailles. And they are governed with an iron hand. In theory, every part of the empire may have a proportional share in the administration of the country; in reality, Prussia has the ultimate political and financial control. Germany pays the taxes; Prussia spends them. Germany provides the soldiers; Prussia commands them. And the Prussian War Lord and his Junkers in the last resort decide the issues of peace and war.

To realize how complete is the Prussian control we need only consider the fact that in the supreme Federal Parliament—the Bundesrat—for forty-two years the Prussian representatives have always had it their own way. Yet Prussia, according to the Constitution, has only got seventeen delegates out of fifty-two. When the Imperial Constitution was framed it was thought that the Prussian representation was far too small, and the fear was repeatedly expressed that the Prussian vote in the Bundesrat would be overruled. But not once has it happened that the German majority in the Bundesrat has dared to oppose any important measure initiated by the Prussian Government. For all practical purposes, therefore, Prussia is the suzerain power. The German principalities and kingdoms are reduced to political tutelage and subjection."


"How shall we explain this startling paradox? How is it, and why is it, that the artistic and exuberant, genial and sentimental German submits to the hard rule of the commonplace, uninteresting, and dour Prussian?

If you ask ninety-nine out of a hundred Germans they will not give you a reply. They know too little of and care too little about politics to be even aware of the fact. They are satisfied with appearances. They do not see the King of Prussia behind the German Kaiser. They are hypnotized by the glittering helmet of the War Lord.

But if you succeed in discovering one in a hundred who understands the relation between Germany and Prussia, and who has thought out the political problem, he will probably give you something like the following reply:

'I know that there is no love lost between the Germans and the Prussians. I know that in culture and native ability we are as superior to the Prussians as our vine-clad hills are superior in beauty to the sandy wastes of Pomerania. And I know that in politics we play a subordinate part, although we are superior. But I also realize that it is necessary for us to submit. And it is necessary for us to submit, precisely because of our virtues. For those virtues of ours are unpractical. And it is necessary for the Prussians to rule, precisely because of their shortcomings. For those shortcomings are practical. The pure gold of the German temper could never be made into hard coin nor used to advantage. It could be made to produce splendid works of art, gems and diadems and ornaments, but for practical purposes, in order to forge the weapons of the Nibelungen, the alloy of the baser metal was indispensable. It required the mixture of Prussian sand and Prussian iron to weld us into a nation, to raise us to an empire. It is because we Germans are artists and dreamers and individualists that we could never manage our own affairs, that we have always been "non-political animals."[6] On the contrary, it is because the Prussian has no brilliance, no romance, no personality, that he makes a splendid soldier and a model bureaucrat. Two things above all were required to make Germany into a powerful State—a strong army and a well-ordered administration. Prussia has given us both.

[6] This is again and again admitted even by the most patriotic German writers. (See General von Bernhardi's last book, "The Coming War": "Wir sind ein unpolitisches Volk"—"We are a non-political people.")

'And let us not forget that Germany more than any other Power required such a strong army and such a strong administration, not only owing to the shortcomings of her national character, but owing to the weakness and danger of her geographical position. Germany is open on every frontier. She has ever been harassed by dangerous enemies. Only a generation ago she was threatened on every side. On the north she had to face the rulers of the sea, who hampered her commercial expansion; on the west she had to face the restless Gaul; on the south she was confronted with the clerical and Jesuitical empire of the Habsburg; on the east with the empire of the Romanovs. From all those enemies Prussia has ultimately saved us. The Hohenzollern dynasty has proved a match for them all.

'The whole annals of Germany and Prussia are a striking proof of the political weakness of the German and of the strength of the Prussian character. Again and again Germany has witnessed magnificent outbursts of national prosperity. She has seen the might of the Hohenstaufen; she has seen the wealth of the Hansa towns. Again and again she has witnessed the spontaneous generation and blossoming of civic prosperity; she has seen the glory and pride of Nuremberg and Heidelberg, of Cologne and Frankfurt, the art of Duerer and Holbein. But again and again German culture has been nipped in the bud. It has been destroyed by civil war and religious war, by internal anarchy and foreign invasion. The Thirty Years' War devastated every province of the German Empire, and such was the misery and anarchy that in many parts the people had reverted to savagery and cannibalism.[7] And hardly had the country recovered from the horrors of the wars of religion, when repeated French invasions laid waste the rich provinces of the Rhine and Palatinate. So completely did German rulers of the eighteenth century betray their duty to the people that some Princes degraded themselves to the point of selling their soldiers to the Hanoverian Kings in order to fight the battles of England in America.

[7] See Arvede Barine's "Madame: Mere du Regent."

'Whilst the German Princes were thus squandering the treasure and life-blood of their subjects, there was growing up in the North a little State which was destined from the most unpromising beginnings for the most glorious future. It is true that the little Prussian State was wretchedly poor; for that very reason the Prussian rulers had to practise strict economy and unrelenting industry. It is true the country was always insecure and constantly threatened by powerful neighbours; for that very reason the people had to submit to a rigid discipline and a strong military organization. It is true the country was depopulated; for that very reason the rulers had to attract foreign settlers by a just, wise, and tolerant government.'

A patriotic German might illustrate in the following simple parable the complex and strange relations between Germany and Prussia:

'The German people a century ago might be compared to the heirs and owners of an ancient estate. The estate was rich and of romantic beauty. The heirs were clever, adventurous, and universally popular. But although devoted to each other, they could not get on together. Their personality was too strong, and they were always quarrelling. Nor could they turn to advantage their vast resources, and the natural wealth of the estate only served to attract outside marauders. They were so extravagant and so unpractical that they would lay out beautiful parks and build magnificent mansions whilst neglecting to drain the land and to repair the fences. They would spend lavishly on luxuries, but they would grudge food to the cattle and manure to the fields. Thus, with all their splendid possessions, the German heirs were always on the verge of bankruptcy.

'To extricate themselves, they decided to accept the services of a factor and manager. The factor was the Prussian Junker. He was an alien. For he could hardly be called a German. In blood he was more Slav than Teutonic. He was unrefined, unsympathetic, and overbearing. But as a manager he was splendid. He bought up outlying parts to round off the estate. He paid more attention to the necessaries than to the luxuries and the amenities of life. He was more careful to surround himself with a strong police force than with poets and minstrels. But he was able to keep out the marauders and the poachers. He was able to protect the property against stronger neighbours and to bully the weaker neighbours into surrendering desirable additions to the estate. In a short time the heirs, formerly universally popular, were cordially hated in the land. But their rents had increased by leaps and bounds, and the German estate had been rounded off and made into one solid and compact whole.'

Such, German writers would tell us, is the parable of Germany and Prussia. The Germans are the gifted, generous, and spendthrift heirs to an illustrious domain. Prussia is the alien, upstart, unpopular, unsympathetic, bullying factor and manager. But to this bullying factor Germany owes the consolidation and prosperity of the national estate."


"We are apt to forget that, strictly speaking, a Parliamentary government does not exist in Germany, although we constantly speak of a 'German Parliament.' According to the Constitution, the Chancellor is not responsible to Parliament, he is only responsible to the Emperor. There is no Cabinet or delegation of the majority of the Reichstag. There is no party system. There are only party squabbles. I do not know whether Mr. Belloc would approve of the German Constitution, but it certainly enables the Government to soar high above all the parties in the Reichstag. German Liberals may be morally justified in their struggle against political reaction, but technically the Government are acting within their constitutional right. And when, therefore, the Reichstag attempts to control the executive, it is rather the Reichstag which is unconstitutional. On the other hand, when the Emperor asserts his Divine right, it is he who is true to the spirit of the Constitution; he is only giving a religious interpretation and colour to a political prerogative which he undoubtedly possesses. And not only is there no Parliamentary government, but there is not even a desire, except with a small fraction of Radicals, to possess such a government. Prussian publicists again and again tell us that Germany does not want to copy English institutions. The old German monarchic institutions are good enough for Germany. Read the treatise of Treitschke, the great historian and political philosopher of modern Prussia. He systematically attempts to belittle every achievement of the Parliamentary system; and every prominent writer follows in his footsteps. Prussia has not produced a Guizot, a Tocqueville, a Stuart Mill, or a Bryce. Her thinkers are all imbued with the traditions of enlightened despotism. Even the great Mommsen cannot be adduced as an exception. He makes us forget his Liberalism, and only remember his Caesarism.

The powers of the Reichstag are very limited. It is mainly a machine for voting supplies, but even that financial control is more nominal than real. For under the Constitution the Assembly must needs make provision for the army and navy, which are outside and above party politics. And having previously fixed the contingent of the Imperial forces, the army and navy estimates must needs follow. In the present tension of international politics, a reduction is out of the question. Theoretically, the Reichstag can indeed oppose an increase, but practically the increase is almost automatic. The Reichstag could only postpone it, and in so doing would have to face unpopularity. Every party vies with its rivals in sacrificing their principles on the altar of patriotism. Whereas the Catholic party in Belgium has for twenty-eight years refused the means of national defence, and has made the Belgian Army into a byword on the plea that barrack life is dangerous to the religious faith of the peasant, the German Catholics have voted with exemplary docility every increase of the army and navy. Only once did they dare to propose a small reduction in the estimates for the expenditure on the war against the Herreros. But the indignation they raised by their independent attitude, and the doubtful elections of 1907, taught them a practical lesson in patriotic submission which they are not likely soon to forget.

The Reichstag, therefore, is largely a debating club, and its debates are as irresponsible as those of students in a University union, because no speech, however eloquent, carries with it any of the responsibilities of government. The Opposition in England is careful of the language it uses, and more careful of the promises it makes, because it knows that it may be called upon to fulfil its promises and to carry out the policy it advocates. In Germany there is no such possibility. The Opposition is only platonic. It is doomed to impotence."


"It has often happened in other countries when the expression of free opinions has become dangerous or difficult that independent political thought has taken refuge in the Universities. Even in Russia the Universities have been a stronghold of Liberalism. In the Germany of the first half of the nineteenth century many a University professor suffered in the cause of political liberty. In the Germany of to-day the Universities are becoming the main support of reaction. Professors, although they are nominated by the faculties, are appointed by the Government; and here again the Government only appoints 'safe' men. A scholar who has incurred the displeasure of the political authorities must be content to remain a Privatdozent all his life. The much-vaunted independence of the German professors is a thing of the past. They may be independent scientifically; they are not independent politically. It is not that scholars have not the abstract right to speak out, or that they would be dismissed once they have been appointed; rather is it that they would not be appointed or promoted. A young scholar with Radical leanings knows that he will not be called to Berlin.

The German Universities still lead political thought; they still wield political influence, and their influence may be even greater to-day than it ever was, but that influence is enlisted almost exclusively on the side of reaction.

And what is true of the Universities is true of the Churches. Of the Roman Catholic Church it is hardly necessary to speak. Non ragionar di lor, ma guarda e passa. The history of German Catholicism proves once more that the Church is never more admirable than when she is persecuted. During the Kulturkampf the Catholics stood for political liberty, whereas the so-called National Liberals stood for State centralization and political despotism. To-day, from being persecuted, the Catholic Church has become a persecuting Church. She has entered into an unholy compact with the Prussian Government. She has ceased to be religious, and has become clerical. She has ceased to be universal. She has become narrowly Nationalist. She might have played a glorious part in the new empire. Instead she has resisted every attempt at financial reform. She might have resisted the oppressive policy against the Poles. Instead she has connived at oppression. She might have opposed the orgies of militarism. Instead she has voted every increase in the army and navy. She has bartered her dignity and spiritual independence to secure confessional privileges, and to get her share in the spoils of office.

The Protestant Churches have not had the same power for evil, yet they have fallen even lower than the Catholic Church. They have lost even more completely every vestige of independence. German University theologians may be advanced in higher criticism, but they are opportunists in practical politics. They are very daring when they examine the Divine right of Christ, but they are very timid when they examine the Divine right of the King and Emperor. Protestantism produced one or two prominent progressive leaders; but they have had to leave their Churches. Dr. Naumann has become a layman; Stoecker, when he espoused the cause of the people, was excommunicated, and the Kaiser hurled one of his most violent speeches against his once favourite Court chaplain."


[8] This was written and published in 1906.

"For forty years Germany had been seeking an outlet for her teeming population and her expanding industries. Hitherto emigration had seemed to be a sufficient outlet and a sufficient source of strength. But as Germany was becoming more and more the controlling power of the Continent, she refused to be contented with sending out millions of her sons, who, as mere emigrants to foreign countries, were lost to the Vaterland.[9] How different would the power of Germany have been, German Imperialists were ever repeating, if the 20,000,000 Teutons who have colonized the United States, or Brazil, or Argentina, and have been absorbed and Americanized and Saxonized, had settled in territories under the Imperial flag!

[9] To-day the immigration into Germany exceeds the emigration.

And thus Pan-Germanists have been looking towards every part of the horizon. They have first looked to the north and the north-west, and they have reflected that the Rhine ought to belong to the Vaterland; that Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Antwerp are the natural German harbours; that Denmark, Holland, and Flemish Belgium are the outposts of Germany for the transit commerce of Europe; and that all these outposts ought to be included either in an economic Zollverein or in a political confederation.[10]

[10] In Justus Perthes's widely scattered "Alldeutscher Atlas," edited by Paul Langhans, and published by the Alldeutscher Verband, both Holland and Flemish Belgium are considered and "coloured" as an integral part of the future German Empire.

But Germany wisely realized that those northern ambitions would meet with absolute resistance on the part of other Powers, that she was not yet strong enough to defy that resistance, and that this fulfilment of her aspirations must be postponed until she was prepared to fight for the mastery of the sea. In the meantime, she contented herself with peacefully annexing the commerce of the Flemish and Dutch ports, with building up a mercantile and a war navy, with advocating the historical maritime philosophy of Captain Mahan, and with repeating on every occasion the famous note of warning: 'Unsere Zukunft ist auf dem Wasser.' Biding her time, and following the line of least resistance, Germany for the last twenty years therefore extended steadily towards the south and towards the east. Towards the south she saw two decaying empires, Austria-Hungary and Turkey, which seemed to be a natural prey for her political and commercial ambitions: two conglomerates of hostile races which are waiting for a master. Towards the east she saw one of the most ancient seats of human civilization, a huge and rich territory, which is the one great country, in close proximity to Europe, which is still left unoccupied and undeveloped. On those three empires Germany set her heart, and with the method and determination which always characterize her she set to work. And with an equally characteristic spirit this gigantic scheme of commercial and political absorption of three empires, from the Upper Danube to the Persian Gulf, was being explained away and justified by an all comprehensive watchword: the Drang nach Osten. It was only in response to this irresistible call and impulse, this Drang and pressure, it was only to obey an historical mission, that the Teuton was going to regenerate the crumbling empires of Austria, of Turkey, and of Asia Minor.

In the first place, let us consider for one moment the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. It is now fifty years since, through the Battle of Sadowa, Austria-Hungary was ousted from the German Confederation. The same reasons which impelled Protestant Prussia to drive Catholic Austria from the Germanic Confederation are still in large measure subsisting to-day, and I do not think that the Hohenzollern has any intention of forcing the Habsburg into the Confederation again, merely to obey the behests of the Pan-Germanists. Prussia has no interest whatever in reopening the ancient dualism of North and South, in re-establishing the two poles and antipodes, Berlin and Vienna. As a matter of fact, ever since 1870 Austria-Hungary has been far more useful to German aims in her present dependent condition than if she were an integral part of the Confederation. In Continental politics as well as in colonial politics, a disguised protectorate may be infinitely preferable to virtual annexation. The protectorate of Tunis has given far less trouble to France than the colony of Algeria. And for all practical interests and purposes, Austria-Hungary has become a German dependency. She has been drawn into the orbit of the Triple Alliance. She follows the political fortunes of the predominant partner. She almost forms part of the German Zollverein, in that her tariffs are systematically favourable to her northern neighbour. But above all, Austria-Hungary renders to Germany the inestimable service both of 'civilizing'—that is, of 'Germanizing'—the inferior races, the Slavs, and of keeping them in check. It is a very disagreeable and difficult task, which Germany infinitely prefers to leave to Austria rather than to assume herself. And it is a task for which, as Professor Lamprecht, the national historian, is compelled to admit, the Austrian German seems far more qualified than the Prussian German. And Germany can thus entirely devote herself to her world ambitions, whilst Austria is entirely absorbed by her racial conflict—for the King of Prussia!

For the last twenty-five years the process of Germanizing has been going on without interruption. A bitter war of races and languages is being waged between the Austrian German and the Magyar, between the Teuton and the Slav. Of the Slav the Austrian Teuton wants to make his political slave. To him 'Slav' and 'slave' are synonymous words; and when we consider that the Slavs are disunited in language and religion, and that they hate each other almost as cordially as they hate the Niemets; and when we further consider that behind the ten millions of Austrian Germans there will be sixty-five millions of other Germans to support them, whilst the Catholic Tcheches and Poles can only fall back on the support of abhorred and heretical Russia, there is every reason to fear that the Slav must eventually come under the economic and political control of the Austrian Germans—that is to say, ultimately under the influence of the German Empire.

But it is not only the Slavs of the Austrian Empire that are threatened by German absorption; that absorption has rapidly extended to the Slav States of the Balkan Peninsula. On the south as well as on the north of the Danube, Austria has been used as the 'cat's-paw,' or, to use the more dignified expression of Emperor William, as the 'loyal Sekundant' of the Hohenzollern. The occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in defiance of the Treaty of Berlin, was the beginning of that Austrian Drang nach Osten policy, the next object of which is the possession of the Gulf of Salonica, and the ultimate object of which is the control of Constantinople."


[11] This was published in 1906.

"The absorption of Turkey is not a distant dream: it is very nearly an accomplished fact. Twenty-five years ago Germany declared she had no political stake in the affairs of Turkey. As recently as the 'seventies, Bismarck proclaimed in the Reichstag that the Eastern Question was not worth the loss of one Pomeranian soldier.

To-day Germany is wellnigh supreme on the Bosphorus. She started by sending military instructors, amongst whom was the famous General Von der Goltz Pasha, and by reorganizing the Turkish Army on the German model. She then sent her travellers, absorbing the commerce of the country. She then sent her engineers, obtaining concessions, building railways, and practically obtaining the control of the so-called 'Oriental' line. Finally, she became the self-appointed doctor of the 'sick man.' Whenever the illness of recent years came to a crisis—after the Armenian and the Macedonian atrocities, after the Cretan insurrection—Germany stepped in and paralyzed the action of Europe. It was Germany that not only enabled Turkey to crush Greece and to restore her military prestige: it was Germany that enabled her to reap the fruits of victory.

For ten years Lohengrin appeared as the temporal providence, the protector of Abdul Hamid. The Holy Roman Emperor appeared as the saviour of the Commander of the Faithful. A Power which did not have one Mohammedan subject claimed to protect two hundred million Mohammedans. And when, in 1897, Emperor William went on his memorable pilgrimage to Jerusalem, this latter-day pilgrim entered into a solemn compact with a Sovereign still reeking from the blood of 200,000 Christians. The Cross made an unholy alliance with the Crescent.

This alliance, coinciding with the journey to Jerusalem, marked a further step in the forward movement, in the Drang nach Osten policy. It was the third and the last stage, and by far the most important one. It was obvious that, on the European side of the Bosphorus, Germany could not make much further progress for some years to come. The times were not ripe. International jealousies might be prematurely roused, all the more so because neither the German Kaiser nor his subjects have the discretion and modesty of success. But on the Asiatic side there extended a vast Asiatic inheritance, to which, as yet, there was no European claimant; to which already, forty years ago, German patriots like Moltke, German economists like Roscher and List, had drawn the attention of the Vaterland—a country with a healthy climate and with infinite resources as yet undeveloped. This was to be in the immediate future the field of German colonization. On his way to Jerusalem the German Emperor pressed once more his devoted friend the Sultan for an extension of German enterprise in Asia Minor. The concession of the railway to Baghdad was granted, and a new and marvellous horizon opened before the Hohenzollern."


"And not only is German Socialism not as strong, neither is it as pacifist as is generally supposed. Outsiders take it for granted that in the event of a conflict between France and Germany there would be solidarity between the French and the German artisans. They assume that Socialism is essentially international. And in theory such an assumption is quite legitimate. But many things in Germany are national which elsewhere are universal. And in Germany Socialism is becoming national, as German political economy is national, as German science is national, as German religion is national. Therefore the political axiom that German Socialists would necessarily come to an understanding with their French and English brethren has been falsified by the event. German Socialists have, no doubt, shown their pacific intentions; they have issued pacific manifestoes and organized pacific processions; they have filed off in their hundreds of thousands in the streets of Berlin to protest against the war party; but when the question of peace or war has been brought to a point in Socialist congresses—when their foreign brethren have moved that in the case of an unjust aggression the German Social Democrats should declare a military strike—German Socialists have refused to assent. The dramatic oratorical duel which took place between the French and the German delegates at the Congress of Stuttgart illustrates the differences between the national temperament of the Frenchman and the German. When called upon to proclaim the military strike, the German Socialists gave as an excuse that such a decision would frighten away from the Social Democrat party hundreds of thousands of middle-class supporters. This excuse is an additional proof of the moral and political weakness of Social Democracy. It illustrates its moral weakness; for the Socialist leaders sacrifice a great principle for the sake of an electoral gain. The leaders know that nationalist feeling runs high in the middle classes; they know that any anti-militarist policy would be unpopular. And they have not the courage as a party to face unpopularity. And the arguments used at Stuttgart also illustrate the political weakness of German Socialism; for they show that the Socialist vote does not possess the cohesion and homogeneity with which it is credited: they show that hundreds of thousands of citizens who record a Socialist vote are not Socialists at all. To vote for Socialism is merely an indirect way of voting against the Government. There is no organized Opposition in Germany. The Socialists are the only party who are "agin the Government." And all those German citizens who are dissatisfied with conditions as they are choose this indirect and clumsy method of voting for the Socialists in order to express their dissatisfaction with the present Prussian despotism.

It is therefore not true to say that Socialism in Germany is a decisive force working for peace. It would be more true to say that it is a force working for war, simply because it is a force working for reaction. Prussian reaction would not be so strong if it were not for the bugbear of Social Democracy. If Social Democracy attracts a considerable section of the lower middle class, it repels and frightens the bulk of the middle classes as well as of the upper classes. Many Liberals who would otherwise oppose the Government support it from horror of the red flag, and they strengthen unwillingly the power of reaction. And therefore it would scarcely be a paradox to say that the nearer the approach of the Socialistic reign, the greater would be the danger to international peace. German contemporary history illustrates once more a general law of history, that the dread of a civil war is often a direct cause of a foreign war, and that the ruling classes are driven to seek outside a diversion from internal difficulties. Thus political unrest ushered in the wars of the Revolution and the Empire; thus the internal difficulties of Napoleon III. brought about the Franco-German War; thus the internal upheaval of Russia in our days produced the Russo-Japanese War.

It may be true that power is slipping away from the hands of the Prussian Junkerthum and the bureaucracy, although Prussian reaction is far stronger than most foreign critics realize. But whether it be strong or weak, one thing is certain: a power which has been supreme for two centuries will not surrender without a struggle. The Prussian Junkers may be politically stupid, but they have not lost the fighting spirit, and they will not give way to the 'mob.' Before Prussian reaction capitulates, it will play its last card and seek salvation in a European conflagration."


"Is the tremendous power and popularity of the Kaiser exercised in the direction of peace or in the direction of war?

To an Englishman the Kaiser's devotion to military pursuits, his frequent brandishing of the sword, his aggressive policy of naval expansion, seem to be in flagrant contradiction with his no less persistent protests both of his sympathy for England and of his love for peace. We are reminded that Napoleon III. also delighted to express his love for peace—"L'Empire c'est la paix"—yet he brought about the most disastrous war in French history. We are reminded that Nicholas II. of Russia also started his reign as the peacemaker of Europe, the initiator of the Conference of The Hague, yet he brought about the most bloody war in Russian history. Are the Kaiser's pacific protests as futile, are his sympathies as hollow, as those of a Napoleon or a Nicholas?

Unfortunately, if the Kaiser's protests of peace are supported by many of his utterances and sanctioned by the interests of his dynasty, they are contradicted not only by many other utterances, but, what is more serious, they are contradicted by his personal methods, and, above all, by the whole trend of his general policy.

Very few observers have pointed out one special reason why the personal methods of the Kaiser will prove in the end dangerous to peace—namely, that they have tended to paralyze or destroy the methods of diplomacy.

Little as we may like the personnel of legations and embassies, strongly as we disapprove of the methods by which they are recruited, urgent as is the reform of the Foreign Office, it remains no less true that the function of diplomacy is more vital to-day than it ever was in the past. For it is of the very purpose and raison d'etre of diplomacy to be conciliatory and pacific. Its object is to achieve by persuasion and negotiation what otherwise must be left to the arbitrament of war. It is a commonplace on the part of Radicals to protest against the practices of occult diplomacy. In so far as that protest is directed against the spirit which animates the members of the diplomatic service, it is fully justified. But in so far as it is directed against the principle of secret negotiation, the protest is absurd. For it is of the very essence of diplomacy that it shall be secret, that it shall be left to experts, that it shall be removed from the heated atmosphere of popular assemblies, and that it shall substitute an appeal to intellect and reason for the appeal to popular emotion and popular prejudice.

For that reason it is deeply to be regretted that the personal interferences of the Kaiser have taken German diplomacy out of the hands of negotiators professionally interested in a peaceful solution of international difficulties, and have indirectly brought diplomacy under the influence of the German 'patriot' and the jingo. An Ambassador need not depend on outside approval; his work is done in quiet and solitude. The Kaiser, on the contrary, conducts his foreign policy in the glaring limelight of publicity; and whenever he has been criticized by experts, his vanity has only too often been tempted to appeal to popular passion and to gain popular applause. For that reason, and entirely apart from his indiscretions, the bare fact that the Kaiser has become his own Foreign Secretary has lessened the chances of peace.

Nor has the whole trend of his domestic policy been less injurious to the cause of peace. In vain does the Kaiser assure us of his pacific intentions: a ruler cannot with impunity glorify for ever the wars of the past, spend most of the resources of his people on the preparations for the wars of the future, encourage the warlike spirit, make the duel compulsory on officers and the Mensur honourable to students, place his chief trust in his Junkers, who live and move and have their being in the game of war, foster the aggressive spirit in the nation, and hold out ambitions which can only be fulfilled by an appeal to arms: a ruler cannot for ever continue to saw the dragon's teeth and only reap harvests of yellow grain and golden grapes."


"Personally I am inclined to think that the fear of a German invasion has haunted far too exclusively the imagination of the English people, and has diverted their attention from another danger far more real and far more immediate. With characteristic naivete and insular selfishness, some jingoes imagine that if only the naval armaments of Germany could be stopped, all danger to England would be averted. But surely the greatest danger to England is not the invasion of England: it is the invasion of France and Belgium. For in the case of an invasion of England, even the Germans admit that the probabilities of success would all be against Germany; whilst in the case of an invasion of France, the Germans claim that the probabilities are all in their favour. It is therefore in France and Belgium that the vulnerable point lies, the Achilles heel of the British Empire."


"It is true that in theory the neutrality of Belgium is guaranteed by international treaties; but when I observe the signs of the times, the ambitions of the German rulers, and when I consider such indications as the recent extension of strategic railways on the Belgian-German frontiers, I do not look forward with any feeling of security to future contingencies in the event of a European war. I am not at all convinced that the scare of a German invasion of England is justified. Indeed, I am inclined to believe the Germans when they assert that in case of war Germany would not be likely to invade Britain. She would be far more likely to invade Belgium, because Belgium has always been the pawn in the great game of European politics, and has often been, and may again become, the battlefield and cockpit of Europe."


"If a war between the two countries did break out, it would not be merely an economic war, like the colonial wars between France and England in the eighteenth century; rather would it partake of the nature of a political and religious crusade, like the French wars of the Revolution and the Empire. The present conflict between England and Germany is the old conflict between Liberalism and despotism, between industrialism and militarism, between progress and reaction, between the masses and the classes. The conflict between England and Germany is a conflict, on the one hand, between a nation which believes in political liberty and national autonomy, where the Press is free and where the rulers are responsible to public opinion, and, on the other hand, a nation where public opinion is still muzzled or powerless and where the masses are still under the heel of an absolute government, a reactionary party, a military Junkerthum, and a despotic bureaucracy.

The root of the evil lies in the fact that in Germany the war spirit and the war caste still prevail, and that a military Power like Prussia is the predominant partner in the German Confederation. The mischievous masterpiece of Carlyle on Frederick the Great, and his more mischievous letter to The Times, have misled English opinion as to the true character and traditions and aims of the Prussian monarchy. Prussia has been pre-eminently for two hundred years the military and reactionary State of Central Europe, much more so even than Russia. Prussia owes whatever she is, and whatever territory she has, to a systematic policy of cunning and deceit, of violence and conquest. No doubt she has achieved an admirable work of organization at home, and has fulfilled what was perhaps a necessary historic mission, but in her international relations she has been mainly a predatory Power. She has stolen her Eastern provinces from Poland. She is largely responsible for the murder of a great civilized nation. She has wrested Silesia from Austria. She has taken Hanover from its legitimate rulers. She has taken Schleswig-Holstein from Denmark, Alsace-Lorraine from France. And to-day the military caste in Prussia trust and hope that a final conflict with England will consummate what previous wars have so successfully accomplished in the past. They are all the more anxious to enter the lists and to run the hazards of war because it becomes more and more difficult to govern a divided Reichstag and a dissatisfied people without uniting them against a foreign enemy, and because they realize that unless they restore their prestige and consolidate their power by a signal victory the days of their predominance are numbered."


"The war of to-morrow, therefore, will not be like the war of 1870, a war confined to two belligerent forces: it will be a universal European war. Nor will it be a humane war, subject to the rules of international law and to the decrees of the Hague Tribunal: it will be an inexorable war; or, to use the expression of von Bernhardi, it will be 'a war to the knife.' Nor will it be decided in a few weeks, like the war of 1870: it will involve a long and difficult campaign, or rather a succession of campaigns; it will mean to either side political annihilation or supremacy."




It has become a trite and hackneyed claim of the Prussian megalomaniacs that they are an Imperial people, a super-race predestined by Nature and Providence to the domination of the world. It certainly seems a grotesque claim to assert on the part of a people who in their political and social life have shown themselves a pre-eminently servile people; who have ever been cringing to their superiors; who never produced one single leader of free men, one Cromwell, one Mirabeau, one Gambetta; who always believed in the virtue of passive obedience; who always submitted to the policeman rather than to a policy; who always obeyed a Prince rather than a principle; who, as recently as the end of the eighteenth century, allowed themselves to be sold like cattle by Hessian princelings; who never rose to defend their sacred rights; who never fought a spirited battle in a righteous civil war; and who have always been ready to fight like slaves at the bidding of a sword-rattling despot.

And yet in one very important respect the Germans may rightly claim that they are actually ruling the European world. German Princes are actually seated on almost every throne of Europe. The French language may still be the language of diplomacy, but the German language, which was still a despised lingo to Frederick the Great, has become the language of European royalties. Germany for two hundred years has done a most thriving and most lucrative export trade in princelings. One Hohenzollern Prince ruling in Roumania for thirty years asserted German influence in that Latin country. Another Hohenzollern Prince ruling in Athens, nicknamed "Tino" by his affectionate relative the Kaiser, for three years stultified the will of his people, who were determined to join the cause of the Allies. Still another German Prince ruling in Sofia, who five years ago was mainly responsible for the horrors of the second Balkan War, compelled the Bulgarian nation to betray the cause of Russia, to whom the Bulgarian people owe their political existence and liberation from the yoke of the Turk.

Even yet public opinion does not realize to what an extent European Princes in the past have been made in Germany. We speak of the Royal House of Denmark as a Danish House. The Danish House is in real fact the German dynasty of Oldenburg. We speak of the House of Romanov as a Russian dynasty. And it is true that the founder of the dynasty, Michael Romanov, the son of Philarete, Archbishop of Moscow and Patriarch of all the Russias, was a typical Muscovite, and was called to the throne in 1611, in troubled times, by the unanimous voice of the people. But, as all the Czars of Russia for two hundred years only married German Princesses, without one single exception, the Russian dynasty had become in fact a German dynasty. So far as mere heredity is concerned, Nicholas II., through the German marriages of all his ancestors, is of German stock to the extent of sixty-three sixty-fourths, and of Russian stock only in the proportion of one sixty-fourth.


Of all the German dynasties seated on the thrones of Europe, the Hohenzollern stand out, not merely as the most powerful, but also by far the most striking and the most interesting. The Hohenzollern are as unique in the history of royalty as the Rothschilds are unique in the history of finance. The history of other dynasties has been largely a history of Court scandal and intrigue, providing inexhaustible material to the petty gossip of Court chroniclers. We are all familiar with the amorous episodes of Louis XIV. and Louis XV., with the mysteries of the Grand and Petit Trianon and of the Parc aux Cerfs, with Madame de Maintenon and Madame de Montespan, with Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry, that beautiful courtesan who on the scaffold so pathetically asked the executioner: "Mr. Hangman, I beseech you, do spare me." We are all familiar through Thackeray's "History of the Georges" with the chronique scandaleuse of the Hanoverian dynasty. No doubt the Hohenzollern also have had their chronique scandaleuse and have also attracted the prurient curiosity of memoir writers. The Court of Berlin in the days of the polygamist King, Frederick William II., the successor of Old Fritz, was the most dissolute Court of Europe, as Berlin is to-day the most depraved city on the Continent. But somehow the scandals of the Hohenzollern seem to be irrelevant episodes. Somehow we do not think of the annals of the august House as a history of scandal. We only think of the Hohenzollern as the political necromancers of modern Europe, as the supreme masters of statecraft. The very name of the Hohenzollern recalls to our minds a race of State-builders. Machiavelli selected the House of Borgia to illustrate the principles of the statecraft of the Renaissance. A modern Machiavelli would have to go to Potsdam to study the philosophy of high politics.

From the beginning the Hohenzollern have been identified with the Prussian State. Louis XIV. said of himself, "L'etat c'est moi," but Louis XIV. was an exception in modern French history. On the contrary, every Hohenzollern could have applied to himself the words of the Bourbon King.

If we take each individual Hohenzollern, we find the most obvious differences between them. No dynasty more strikingly illustrates that psychological and political peculiarity of royal houses, which may be called the law of opposites, and which has almost the regularity of a universal law according to which each ruler is the living contrast of his predecessor. The successor of the Great Elector, Frederick I. (1688-1713), the first King of Prussia, was an extravagant fop who spent a year's income on the ceremony of coronation. On the contrary, his successor, "Fat William" (1713-1740), the Sergeant-King, was a miser, who on his coronation only spent 2,227 thalers and ninepence, where his father had squandered over six millions, a maniac who collected tall grenadiers as other Kings have collected pictures, who tortured his children, and who wanted to punish with a death sentence a juvenile escapade of the heir to the throne. Frederick the Great (1740-1786), again, was the antithesis of Frederick William I., and loved literature and art as intensely as his father detested them. Frederick William II. (1786-1797), the successor of the great realist and woman-hater, was a polygamist and a mystic. Frederick William III. (1797-1840) was an exemplary husband and a well-meaning, business-like bourgeois. He was succeeded by Frederick William IV. (1840-1861), a romanticist and a dreamer who ended in madness. William I. (1861-1888) was an honest, straightforward, methodical, reasonable, self-controlled soldier. Frederick III. was an idealist, and, like Frederick the Great, a lover of literature and art. William II. has bewildered the world as a versatile and omniscient dilettante, war-lord and peacemaker, Mohammedan and Christian—always a comedian, yet always in earnest. And we all know how the heir to the throne is the reverse of the Kaiser, and how this Crown Prince, with the fancies of a degenerate, has deserved to be called the "Clown Prince."

It is therefore apparent that if we analyze the characteristics of every one of the nine dynasts who have reigned in Prussia since the Great Elector for the last two hundred and fifty years, we do not find one single ruler who resembles his predecessor or his successor. Yet all these Hohenzollerns, whether capable or incapable, whether mad, half-mad, or sane, whether profligate or domesticated, whether extravagant or miserly, have certain common traits. They have all been inspired with the same dynastic policy. When we consider the individual variations from the family type, there can be here no question of physical heredity, like the lip of the Habsburg or the tainted blood of the Spanish Bourbons. It is a question of political environment, a question of dynastic tradition. Indeed, we must carefully study that Hohenzollern family tradition of politics if we want to grasp the full significance of the word, if we wish to understand how such a dynastic tradition may become a formidable power to European history. Maeterlinck in his "Life of the Bee" has an eloquent and profound chapter on the "Spirit of the Hive." In the domestic and international policy of the Prussian State, in the Hohenzollern dynastic tradition, we discover such a collective spirit, the "Spirit of the Prussian Hive," the evil spirit of war mania and megalomania, the treachery, the brutality, the greed, and, above all, the predatory instinct dignified into the name of Real Politik. And Europe will only enjoy permanent peace and security if she succeeds in destroying that Hohenzollern tradition, that sinister spirit which lives in the wasps' and hornets' nest of Berlin, that spirit which has "Potsdamized" Europe, and which has debased the moral currency of European politics.


No one would call the political history of Germany an interesting history. It is only the history of free nations or the free play of spiritual forces that is of abiding human interest, and the history of Germany is neither the history of a free people nor the conflict of spiritual forces. That history is so intolerably tedious that even the magic of Treitschke's genius has not been able to relieve its dulness, and that before the war no British or French publisher dared venture on a translation of Treitschke's masterpiece. But if the political history of Germany has all the tedium and monotony of parochialism, on the contrary, the personal history of the Hohenzollern is intensely instructive. One would hesitate to call it romantic. Yet there is an element of romance, the romance of business, the interest which attaches to the rise of a family from the humble obscurity of a petty princeling to the power and prestige of world rulers, the same kind of interest which belongs to the life-story of Mr. Vanderbilt or Mr. Carnegie. What a progress those Hohenzollerns have made from the distant days when they left their little Swabian southern home of Zollern between the Neckar and the Upper Danube, the cradle of their dynasty! Nomen, omen! Does not the very sound of the word Hohenzollern suggest and inspire high ambitions? And does not the very name of that little village of Zollern, which is apparently derived from Zoll, suggest that all the world was henceforth to pay a Zoll, or toll, to the dynasts of Hohenzollern?

And what a strange succession of incidents! In themselves those incidents may seem insignificant. They left little trace in the chronicles of olden times. Yet those petty incidents have proved decisive events in the annals of modern humanity. We see those events happening from generation to generation without any apparent connection. Yet somehow they all made for the aggrandizement of the family. We see successive Princes acquiring through marriage and inheritance possessions in scattered and remote outposts of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet somehow all those outposts became eventually milestones on the highway to greatness. One ancestor becomes Burgrave of Nuremberg—a considerable promotion! A subsequent Burgrave of Nuremberg lends money to a needy Austrian Emperor, and becomes in 1417 Elector of Brandenburg—a much more considerable promotion! Again, another ancestor inherits at the other extremity of Germany the petty dukedom of Cleves, and that dukedom became the nucleus of Prussian power in the Far West of Germany. Still another ancestor of a collateral branch becomes Grand Master of the religious Order of the Teutonic Knights, and this fact induces Master Martin Luther, who was much more of a realist and a time-server and a trimmer than theologians give him credit for, to advise the Hohenzollern Grand Master to secularize his knights, to confiscate the whole Church property of the Order, and to make himself the overlord of Eastern Prussia.

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