Why The Second Reich Collapsed
THE DEPTH OF A FALL IS ALWAYS MEASURED BY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE level of the original position from which a body has fallen and that in which it is now found. The same holds good for Nations and States. The matter of greatest importance here is the height of the original level, or rather the greatest height that had been attained before the descent began.
For only the profound decline or collapse of that which was capable of reaching extraordinary heights can make a striking impression on the eye of the beholder. The collapse of the Second REICH was all the more bewildering for those who could ponder over it and feel the effect of it in their hearts, because the REICH had fallen from a height which can hardly be imagined in these days of misery and humiliation.
The Second Reich was founded in circumstances of such dazzling splendour that the whole nation had become entranced and exalted by it. Following an unparalleled series of victories, that Empire was handed over as the guerdon of immortal heroism to the children and grandchildren of the heroes. Whether they were fully conscious of it or not does not matter; anyhow, the Germans felt that this Empire had not been brought into existence by a series of able political negotiations through parliamentary channels, but that it was different from political institutions founded elsewhere by reason of the nobler circumstances that had accompanied its establishment. When its foundations were laid the accompanying music was not the chatter of parliamentary debates but the thunder and boom of war along the battle front that encircled Paris. It was thus that an act of statesmanship was accomplished whereby the Germans, princes as well as people, established the future REICH and restored the symbol of the Imperial Crown. Bismarck's State was not founded on treason and assassination by deserters and shirkers but by the regiments that had fought at the front. This unique birth and baptism of fire sufficed of themselves to surround the Second Empire with an aureole of historical splendour such as few of the older States could lay claim to.
And what an ascension then began! A position of independence in regard to the outside world guaranteed the means of livelihood at home. The nation increased in numbers and in worldly wealth. The honour of the State and therewith the honour of the people as a whole were secured and protected by an army which was the most striking witness of the difference between this new REICH and the old German Confederation.
But the downfall of the Second Empire and the German people has been so profound that they all seem to have been struck dumbfounded and rendered incapable of feeling the significance of this downfall or reflecting on it. It seems as if people were utterly unable to picture in their minds the heights to which the Empire formerly attained, so visionary and unreal appears the greatness and splendour of those days in contrast to the misery of the present. Bearing this in mind we can understand why and how people become so dazed when they try to look back to the sublime past that they forget to look for the symptoms of the great collapse which must certainly have been present in some form or other. Naturally this applies only to those for whom Germany was more than merely a place of abode and a source of livelihood. These are the only people who have been able to feel the present conditions as really catastrophic, whereas others have considered these conditions as the fulfilment of what they had looked forward to and hitherto silently wished.
The symptoms of future collapse were definitely to be perceived in those earlier days, although very few made any attempt to draw a practical lesson from their significance. But this is now a greater necessity than it ever was before. For just as bodily ailments can be cured only when their origin has been diagnosed, so also political disease can be treated only when it has been diagnosed. It is obvious of course that the external symptoms of any disease can be more readily detected than its internal causes, for these symptoms strike the eye more easily. This is also the reason why so many people recognize only external effects and mistake them for causes. Indeed they will sometimes try to deny the existence of such causes. And that is why the majority of people among us recognize the German collapse only in the prevailing economic distress and the results that have followed therefrom. Almost everyone has to carry his share of this burden, and that is why each one looks on the economic catastrophe as the cause of the present deplorable state of affairs. The broad masses of the people see little of the cultural, political, and moral background of this collapse. Many of them completely lack both the necessary feeling and powers of understanding for it.
That the masses of the people should thus estimate the causes of Germany's downfall is quite understandable. But the fact that intelligent sections of the community regard the German collapse primarily as an economic catastrophe, and consequently think that a cure for it may be found in an economic solution, seems to me to be the reason why hitherto no improvement has been brought about. No improvement can be brought about until it be understood that economics play only a second or third role, while the main part is played by political, moral and racial factors. Only when this is understood will it be possible to understand the causes of the present evil and consequently to find the ways and means of remedying them.
Therefore the question of why Germany really collapsed is one of the most urgent significance, especially for a political movement which aims at overcoming this disaster.
In scrutinizing the past with a view to discovering the causes of the German break-up, it is necessary to be careful lest we may be unduly impressed by external results that readily strike the eye and thus ignore the less manifest causes of these results.
The most facile, and therefore the most generally accepted, way of accounting for the present misfortune is to say that it is the result of a lost war, and that this is the real cause of the present misfortune. Probably there are many who honestly believe in this absurd explanation but there are many more in whose mouths it is a deliberate and conscious falsehood. This applies to all those who are now feeding at the Government troughs. For the prophets of the Revolution again and again declared to the people that it would be immaterial to the great masses what the result of the War might be. On the contrary, they solemnly assured the public that it was High Finance which was principally interested in a victorious outcome of this gigantic struggle among the nations but that the German people and the German workers had no interest whatsoever in such an outcome. Indeed the apostles of world conciliation habitually asserted that, far from any German downfall, the opposite was bound to take place--namely, the resurgence of the German people--once 'militarism' had been crushed. Did not these self-same circles sing the praises of the Entente and did they not also lay the whole blame for the sanguinary struggle on the shoulders of Germany? Without this explanation, would they have been able to put forward the theory that a military defeat would have no political consequences for the German people? Was not the whole Revolution dressed up in gala colours as blocking the victorious advance of the German banners and that thus the German people would be assured its liberty both at home and abroad?
Is not that so, you miserable, lying rascals?
That kind of impudence which is typical of the Jews was necessary in order to proclaim the defeat of the army as the cause of the German collapse. Indeed the Berlin Vorwärts, that organ and mouthpiece of sedition then wrote on this occasion that the German nation should not be permitted to bring home its banners triumphantly.
And yet they attribute our collapse to the military defeat.
Of course it would be out of the question to enter into an argument with these liars who deny at one moment what they said the moment before. I should waste no further words on them were it not for the fact that there are many thoughtless people who repeat all this in parrot fashion, without being necessarily inspired by any evil motives. But the observations I am making here are also meant for our fighting followers, seeing that nowadays one's spoken words are often forgotten and twisted in their meaning.
The assertion that the loss of the War was the cause of the German collapse can best be answered as follows:
It is admittedly a fact that the loss of the War was of tragic importance for the future of our country. But that loss was not in itself a cause. It was rather the consequence of other causes. That a disastrous ending to this life-or-death conflict must have involved catastrophes in its train was clearly seen by everyone of insight who could think in a straightforward manner. But unfortunately there were also people whose powers of understanding seemed to fail them at that critical moment. And there were other people who had first questioned that truth and then altogether denied it. And there were people who, after their secret desire had been fulfilled, were suddenly faced with the subsequent facts that resulted from their own collaboration. Such people are responsible for the collapse, and not the lost war, though they now want to attribute everything to this. As a matter of fact the loss of the War was a result of their activities and not the result of bad leadership as they now would like to maintain. Our enemies were not cowards. They also know how to die. From the very first day of the War they outnumbered the German Army, and the arsenals and armament factories of the whole world were at their disposal for the replenishment of military equipment. Indeed it is universally admitted that the German victories, which had been steadily won during four years of warfare against the whole world, were due to superior leadership, apart of course from the heroism of the troops. And the organization was solely due to the German military leadership. That organization and leadership of the German Army was the most mighty thing that the world has ever seen. Any shortcomings which became evident were humanly unavoidable. The collapse of that army was not the cause of our present distress. It was itself the consequence of other faults. But this consequence in its turn ushered in a further collapse, which was more visible. That such was actually the case can be shown as follows:
Must a military defeat necessarily lead to such a complete overthrow of the State and Nation? Whenever has this been the result of an unlucky war? As a matter of fact, are nations ever ruined by a lost war and by that alone? The answer to this question can be briefly stated by referring to the fact that military defeats are the result of internal decay, cowardice, want of character, and are a retribution for such things. If such were not the causes then a military defeat would lead to a national resurgence and bring the nation to a higher pitch of effort. A military defeat is not the tombstone of national life. History affords innumerable examples to confirm the truth of that statement.
Unfortunately Germany's military overthrow was not an undeserved catastrophe, but a well-merited punishment which was in the nature of an eternal retribution. This defeat was more than deserved by us; for it represented the greatest external phenomenon of decomposition among a series of internal phenomena, which, although they were visible, were not recognized by the majority of the people, who follow the tactics of the ostrich and see only what they want to see.
Let us examine the symptoms that were evident in Germany at the time that the German people accepted this defeat. Is it not true that in several circles the misfortunes of the Fatherland were even joyfully welcomed in the most shameful manner? Who could act in such a way without thereby meriting vengeance for his attitude? Were there not people who even went further and boasted that they had gone to the extent of weakening the front and causing a collapse? Therefore it was not the enemy who brought this disgrace upon our shoulders but rather our own countrymen. If they suffered misfortune for it afterwards, was that misfortune undeserved? Was there ever a case in history where a people declared itself guilty of a war, and that even against its better conscience and its better knowledge?
No, and again no. In the manner in which the German nation reacted to its defeat we can see that the real cause of our collapse must be looked for elsewhere and not in the purely military loss of a few positions or the failure of an offensive. For if the front as such had given way and thus brought about a national disaster, then the German nation would have accepted the defeat in quite another spirit. They would have borne the subsequent misfortune with clenched teeth, or they would have been overwhelmed by sorrow. Regret and fury would have filled their hearts against an enemy into whose hands victory had been given by a chance event or the decree of Fate; and in that case the nation, following the example of the Roman Senate1, would have faced the defeated legions on their return and expressed their thanks for the sacrifices that had been made and would have requested them not to lose faith in the Empire. Even the capitulation would have been signed under the sway of calm reason, while the heart would have beaten in the hope of the coming revanche.
1 Probably the author has two separate incidents in mind. The first happened in 390 B.C., when, as the victorious Gauls descended on Rome, the Senators ordered their ivory chairs to be placed in the Forum before the Temples ofthe Gods. There, clad in their robes of state, they awaited the invader, hoping to save the city by sacrificing themselves. This noble gesture failed for the time being; but it had an inspiring influence on subsequent generations. The second incident, which has more historical authenticity, occurred after the Roman defeat at Cannae in 216 B.C. On that occasion Varro, the Roman commander, who, though in great part responsible for the disaster, made an effort to carry on the struggle, was, on his return to Rome, met by the citizens of all ranks and publicly thanked because he had not despaired of the Republic. The consequence was that the Republic refused to make peace with the victorious Carthagenians.
That is the reception that would have been given to a military defeat which had to be attributed only to the adverse decree of Fortune. There would have been neither joy-making nor dancing. Cowardice would not have been boasted of, and the defeat would not have been honoured. On returning from the Front, the troops would not have been mocked at, and the colours would not have been dragged in the dust. But above all, that disgraceful state of affairs could never have arisen which induced a British officer, Colonel Repington, to declare with scorn: Every third German is a traitor! No, in such a case this plague would never have assumed the proportions of a veritable flood which, for the past five years, has smothered every vestige of respect for the German nation in the outside world.
This shows only too clearly how false it is to say that the loss of the War was the cause of the German break-up. No. The military defeat was itself but the consequence of a whole series of morbid symptoms and their causes which had become active in the German nation before the War broke out. The War was the first catastrophal consequence, visible to all, of how traditions and national morale had been poisoned and how the instinct of self-preservation had degenerated. These were the preliminary causes which for many years had been undermining the foundations of the nation and the Empire.
But it remained for the Jews, with their unqualified capacity for falsehood, and their fighting comrades, the Marxists, to impute responsibility for the downfall precisely to the man who alone had shown a superhuman will and energy in his effort to prevent the catastrophe which he had foreseen and to save the nation from that hour of complete overthrow and shame. By placing responsibility for the loss of the world war on the shoulders of Ludendorff they took away the weapon of moral right from the only adversary dangerous enough to be likely to succeed in bringing the betrayers of the Fatherland to Justice. All this was inspired by the principle--which is quite true in itself--that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes.
From time immemorial. however, the Jews have known better than any others how falsehood and calumny can be exploited. Is not their very existence founded on one great lie, namely, that they are a religious community, whereas in reality they are a race? And what a race! One of the greatest thinkers that mankind has produced has branded the Jews for all time with a statement which is profoundly and exactly true. He (Schopenhauer) called the Jew "The Great Master of Lies". Those who do not realize the truth of that statement, or do not wish to believe it, will never be able to lend a hand in helping Truth to prevail.
We may regard it as a great stroke of fortune for the German nation that its period of lingering suffering was so suddenly curtailed and transformed into such a terrible catastrophe. For if things had gone on as they were the nation would have more slowly, but more surely, gone to ruin. The disease would have become chronic; whereas, in the acute form of the disaster, it at least showed itself clearly to the eyes of a considerable number of observers. It was not by accident that man conquered the black plague more easily than he conquered tuberculosis. The first appeared in terrifying waves of death that shook the whole of mankind, the other advances insidiously; the first induces terror, the other gradual indifference. The result is, however, that men opposed the first with all the energy they were capable of, whilst they try to arrest tuberculosis by feeble means. Thus man has mastered the black plague, while tuberculosis still gets the better of him.
The same applies to diseases in nations. So long as these diseases are not of a catastrophic character, the population will slowly accustom itself to them and later succumb. It is then a stroke of luck--although a bitter one--when Fate decides to interfere in this slow process of decay and suddenly brings the victim face to face with the final stage of the disease. More often than not the result of a catastrophe is that a cure is at once undertaken and carried through with rigid determination.
But even in such a case the essential preliminary condition is always the recognition of the internal causes which have given rise to the disease in question.
The important question here is the differentiation of the root causes from the circumstances developing out of them. This becomes all the more difficult the longer the germs of disease remain in the national body and the longer they are allowed to become an integral part of that body. It may easily happen that, as time goes on, it will become so difficult to recognize certain definite virulent poisons as such that they are accepted as belonging to the national being; or they are merely tolerated as a necessary evil, so that drastic attempts to locate those alien germs are not held to be necessary.
During the long period of peace prior to the last war certain evils were apparent here and there although, with one or two exceptions, very little effort was made to discover their origin. Here again these exceptions were first and foremost those phenomena in the economic life of the nation which were more apparent to the individual than the evil conditions existing in a good many other spheres.
There were many signs of decay which ought to have been given serious thought. As far as economics were concerned, the following may be said:--
The amazing increase of population in Germany before the war brought the question of providing daily bread into a more and more prominent position in all spheres of political and economic thought and action. But unfortunately those responsible could not make up their minds to arrive at the only correct solution and preferred to reach their objective by cheaper methods. Repudiation of the idea of acquiring fresh territory and the substitution for it of the mad desire for the commercial conquest of the world was bound to lead eventually to unlimited and injurious industrialization.
The first and most fatal result brought about in this way was the weakening of the agricultural classes, whose decline was proportionate to the increase in the proletariat of the urban areas, until finally the equilibrium was completely upset.
The big barrier dividing rich and poor now became apparent. Luxury and poverty lived so close to each other that the consequences were bound to be deplorable. Want and frequent unemployment began to play havoc with the people and left discontent and embitterment behind them. The result of this was to divide the population into political classes. Discontent increased in spite of commercial prosperity. Matters finally reached that stage which brought about the general conviction that 'things cannot go on as they are', although no one seemed able to visualize what was really going to happen.
These were typical and visible signs of the depths which the prevailing discontent had reached. Far worse than these, however, were other consequences which became apparent as a result of the industrialization of the nation.
In proportion to the extent that commerce assumed definite control of the State, money became more and more of a God whom all had to serve and bow down to. Heavenly Gods became more and more old-fashioned and were laid away in the corners to make room for the worship of mammon. And thus began a period of utter degeneration which became specially pernicious because it set in at a time when the nation was more than ever in need of an exalted idea, for a critical hour was threatening. Germany should have been prepared to protect with the sword her efforts to win her own daily bread in a peaceful way.
Unfortunately, the predominance of money received support and sanction in the very quarter which ought to have been opposed to it. His Majesty, the Kaiser, made a mistake when he raised representatives of the new finance capital to the ranks of the nobility. Admittedly, it may be offered as an excuse that even Bismarck failed to realize the threatening danger in this respect. In practice, however, all ideal virtues became secondary considerations to those of money, for it was clear that having once taken this road, the nobility of the sword would very soon rank second to that of finance.
Financial operations succeed easier than war operations. Hence it was no longer any great attraction for a true hero or even a statesman to be brought into touch with the nearest Jew banker. Real merit was not interested in receiving cheap decorations and therefore declined them with thanks. But from the standpoint of good breeding such a development was deeply regrettable. The nobility began to lose more and more of the racial qualities that were a condition of its very existence, with the result that in many cases the term 'plebeian' would have been more appropriate.
A serious state of economic disruption was being brought about by the slow elimination of the personal control of vested interests and the gradual transference of the whole economic structure into the hands of joint stock companies.
In this way labour became degraded into an object of speculation in the hands of unscrupulous exploiters. The de-personalization of property ownership increased on a vast scale. Financial exchange circles began to triumph and made slow but sure progress in assuming control of the whole of national life.
Before the War the internationalization of the German economic structure had already begun by the roundabout way of share issues. It is true that a section of the German industrialists made a determined attempt to avert the danger, but in the end they gave way before the united attacks of money-grabbing capitalism, which was assisted in this fight by its faithful henchmen in the Marxist movement.
The persistent war against German 'heavy industries' was the visible start of the internationalization of German economic life as envisaged by the Marxists. This, however, could only be brought to a successful conclusion by the victory which Marxism was able to gain in the Revolution. As I write these words, success is attending the general attack on the German State Railways which are now to be turned over to international capitalists. Thus 'International Social-Democracy' has once again attained one of its main objectives.
The best evidence of how far this 'commercialization' of the German nation was able to go can be plainly seen in the fact that when the War was over one of the leading captains of German industry and commerce gave it as his opinion that commerce as such was the only force which could put Germany on its feet again. This sort of nonsense was uttered just at the time when France was restoring public education on a humanitarian basis, thus doing away with the idea that national life is dependent on commerce rather than ideal values. The statement which Stinnes broadcasted to the world at that time caused incredible confusion. It was immediately taken up and has become the leading motto of all those humbugs and babblers--the 'statesmen' whom Fate let loose on Germany after the Revolution.
One of the worst evidences of decadence in Germany before the War was the ever increasing habit of doing things by halves. This was one of the consequences of the insecurity that was felt all round. And it is to be attributed also to a certain timidity which resulted from one cause or another. And the latter malady was aggravated by the educational system.
German education in pre-War times had an extraordinary number of weak features. It was simply and exclusively limited to the production of pure knowledge and paid little attention to the development of practical ability. Still less attention was given to the development of individual character, in so far as this is ever possible. And hardly any attention at all was paid to the development of a sense of responsibility, to strengthening the will and the powers of decision. The result of this method was to produce erudite people who had a passion for knowing everything. Before the War we Germans were accepted and estimated accordingly. The German was liked because good use could be made of him; but there was little esteem for him personally, on account of this weakness of character. For those who can read its significance aright, there is much instruction in the fact that among all nationalities Germans were the first to part with their national citizenship when they found themselves in a foreign country. And there is a world of meaning in the saying that was then prevalent: 'With the hat in the hand one can go through the whole country'.
This kind of social etiquette turned out disastrous when it prescribed the exclusive forms that had to be observed in the presence of His Majesty. These forms insisted that there should be no contradiction whatsoever, but that everything should be praised which His Majesty condescended to like.
It was just here that the frank expression of manly dignity, and not subservience, was most needed. Servility in the presence of monarchs may be good enough for the professional lackey and place-hunter, in fact for all those decadent beings who are more pleased to be found moving in the high circles of royalty than among honest citizens. These exceedingly 'humble' creatures however, though they grovel before their lord and bread-giver, invariably put on airs of boundless superciliousness towards other mortals, which was particularly impudent when they posed as the only people who had the right to be called 'monarchists'. This was a gross piece of impertinence such as only despicable specimens among the newly-ennobled or yet-to-be-ennobled could be capable of.
And these have always been just the people who have prepared the way for the downfall of monarchy and the monarchical principle. It could not be otherwise. For when a man is prepared to stand up for a cause, come what may, he never grovels before its representative. A man who is serious about the maintenance and welfare of an institution will not allow himself to be discouraged when the representatives of that institution show certain faults and failings. And he certainly will not run around to tell the world about it, as certain false democratic 'friends' of the monarchy have done; but he will approach His Majesty, the bearer of the Crown himself, to warn him of the seriousness of a situation and persuade the monarch to act. Furthermore, he will not take up the standpoint that it must be left to His Majesty to act as the latter thinks fit, even though the course which he would take must plainly lead to disaster. But the man I am thinking of will deem it his duty to protect the monarchy against the monarch himself, no matter what personal risk he may run in doing so. If the worth of the monarchical institution be dependent on the person of the monarch himself, then it would be the worst institution imaginable; for only in rare cases are kings found to be models of wisdom and understanding, and integrity of character, though we might like to think otherwise. But this fact is unpalatable to the professional knaves and lackeys. Yet all upright men, and they are the backbone of the nation, repudiate the nonsensical fiction that all monarchs are wise, etc. For such men history is history and truth is truth, even where monarchs are concerned. But if a nation should have the good luck to possess a great king or a great man it ought to consider itself as specially favoured above all the other nations, and these may be thankful if an adverse fortune has not allotted the worst to them.
It is clear that the worth and significance of the monarchical principle cannot rest in the person of the monarch alone, unless Heaven decrees that the crown should be set on the head of a brilliant hero like Frederick the Great, or a sagacious person like William I. This may happen once in several centuries, but hardly oftener than that. The ideal of the monarchy takes precedence of the person of the monarch, inasmuch as the meaning of the institution must lie in the institution itself. Thus the monarchy may be reckoned in the category of those whose duty it is to serve. He, too, is but a wheel in this machine and as such he is obliged to do his duty towards it. He has to adapt himself for the fulfilment of high aims. If, therefore, there were no significance attached to the idea itself and everything merely centred around the 'sacred' person, then it would never be possible to depose a ruler who has shown himself to be an imbecile.
It is essential to insist upon this truth at the present time, because recently those phenomena have appeared again and were in no small measure responsible for the collapse of the monarchy. With a certain amount of native impudence these persons once again talk about 'their King'--that is to say, the man whom they shamefully deserted a few years ago at a most critical hour. Those who refrain from participating in this chorus of lies are summarily classified as 'bad Germans'. They who make the charge are the same class of quitters who ran away in 1918 and took to wearing red badges. They thought that discretion was the better part of valour. They were indifferent about what happened to the Kaiser. They camouflaged themselves as 'peaceful citizens' but more often than not they vanished altogether. All of a sudden these champions of royalty were nowhere to be found at that time. Circumspectly, one by one, these 'servants and counsellors' of the Crown reappeared, to resume their lip-service to royalty but only after others had borne the brunt of the anti-royalist attack and suppressed the Revolution for them. Once again they were all there. remembering wistfully the flesh-pots of Egypt and almost bursting with devotion for the royal cause. This went on until the day came when red badges were again in the ascendant. Then this whole ramshackle assembly of royal worshippers scuttled anew like mice from the cats.
If monarchs were not themselves responsible for such things one could not help sympathizing with them. But they must realize that with such champions thrones can be lost but certainly never gained.
All this devotion was a mistake and was the result of our whole system of education, which in this case brought about a particularly severe retribution. Such lamentable trumpery was kept up at the various courts that the monarchy was slowly becoming under mined. When finally it did begin to totter, everything was swept away. Naturally, grovellers and lick-spittles are never willing to die for their masters. That monarchs never realize this, and almost on principle never really take the trouble to learn it, has always been their undoing.
One visible result of wrong educational system was the fear of shouldering responsibility and the resultant weakness in dealing with obvious vital problems of existence.
The starting point of this epidemic, however, was in our parliamentary institution where the shirking of responsibility is particularly fostered. Unfortunately the disease slowly spread to all branches of everyday life but particularly affected the sphere of public affairs. Responsibility was being shirked everywhere and this led to insufficient or half-hearted measures being taken, personal responsibility for each act being reduced to a minimum.
If we consider the attitude of various Governments towards a whole series of really pernicious phenomena in public life, we shall at once recognize the fearful significance of this policy of half-measures and the lack of courage to undertake responsibilities. I shall single out only a few from the large numbers of instances known to me.
In journalistic circles it is a pleasing custom to speak of the Press as a 'Great Power' within the State. As a matter of fact its importance is immense. One cannot easily overestimate it, for the Press continues the work of education even in adult life. Generally, readers of the Press can be classified into three groups:
- First, those who believe everything they read;
- Second, those who no longer believe anything;
- Third, those who critically examine what they read and form their judgments accordingly.
Numerically, the first group is by far the strongest, being composed of the broad masses of the people. Intellectually, it forms the simplest portion of the nation. It cannot be classified according to occupation but only into grades of intelligence. Under this category come all those who have not been born to think for themselves or who have not learnt to do so and who, partly through incompetence and partly through ignorance, believe everything that is set before them in print. To these we must add that type of lazy individual who, although capable of thinking for himself out of sheer laziness gratefully absorbs everything that others had thought over, modestly believing this to have been thoroughly done. The influence which the Press has on all these people is therefore enormous; for after all they constitute the broad masses of a nation. But, somehow they are not in a position or are not willing personally to sift what is being served up to them; so that their whole attitude towards daily problems is almost solely the result of extraneous influence. All this can be advantageous where public enlightenment is of a serious and truthful character, but great harm is done when scoundrels and liars take a hand at this work.
The second group is numerically smaller, being partly composed of those who were formerly in the first group and after a series of bitter disappointments are now prepared to believe nothing of what they see in print. They hate all newspapers. Either they do not read them at all or they become exceptionally annoyed at their contents, which they hold to be nothing but a congeries of lies and misstatements. These people are difficult to handle; for they will always be sceptical of the truth. Consequently, they are useless for any form of positive work.
The third group is easily the smallest, being composed of real intellectuals whom natural aptitude and education have taught to think for themselves and who in all things try to form their own judgments, while at the same time carefully sifting what they read. They will not read any newspaper without using their own intelligence to collaborate with that of the writer and naturally this does not set writers an easy task. Journalists appreciate this type of reader only with a certain amount of reservation.
Hence the trash that newspapers are capable of serving up is of little danger--much less of importance--to the members of the third group of readers. In the majority of cases these readers have learnt to regard every journalist as fundamentally a rogue who sometimes speaks the truth. Most unfortunately, the value of these readers lies in their intelligence and not in their numerical strength, an unhappy state of affairs in a period where wisdom counts for nothing and majorities for everything. Nowadays when the voting papers of the masses are the deciding factor; the decision lies in the hands of the numerically strongest group; that is to say the first group, the crowd of simpletons and the credulous.
It is an all-important interest of the State and a national duty to prevent these people from falling into the hands of false, ignorant or even evil-minded teachers. Therefore it is the duty of the State to supervise their education and prevent every form of offence in this respect. Particular attention should be paid to the Press; for its influence on these people is by far the strongest and most penetrating of all; since its effect is not transitory but continual. Its immense significance lies in the uniform and persistent repetition of its teaching. Here, if anywhere, the State should never forget that all means should converge towards the same end. It must not be led astray by the will-o'-the-wisp of so-called 'freedom of the Press', or be talked into neglecting its duty, and withholding from the nation that which is good and which does good. With ruthless determination the State must keep control of this instrument of popular education and place it at the service of the State and the Nation.
But what sort of pabulum was it that the German Press served up for the consumption of its readers in pre-War days? Was it not the worst virulent poison imaginable? Was not pacifism in its worst form inoculated into our people at a time when others were preparing slowly but surely to pounce upon Germany? Did not this self-same Press of ours in peace time already instil into the public mind a doubt as to the sovereign rights of the State itself, thereby already handicapping the State in choosing its means of defence? Was it not the German Press that under stood how to make all the nonsensical talk about 'Western democracy' palatable to our people, until an exuberant public was eventually prepared to entrust its future to the League of Nations? Was not this Press instrumental in bringing in a state of moral degradation among our people? Were not morals and public decency made to look ridiculous and classed as out-of-date and banal, until finally our people also became modernized? By means of persistent attacks, did not the Press keep on undermining the authority of the State, until one blow sufficed to bring this institution tottering to the ground? Did not the Press oppose with all its might every movement to give the State that which belongs to the State, and by means of constant criticism, injure the reputation of the army, sabotage general conscription and demand refusal of military credits, etc.--until the success of this campaign was assured?
The function of the so-called liberal Press was to dig the grave for the German people and Reich. No mention need be made of the lying Marxist Press. To them the spreading of falsehood is as much a vital necessity as the mouse is to a cat. Their sole task is to break the national backbone of the people, thus preparing the nation to become the slaves of international finance and its masters, the Jews.
And what measures did the State take to counteract this wholesale poisoning of the public mind? None, absolutely nothing at all. By this policy it was hoped to win the favour of this pest--by means of flattery, by a recognition of the 'value' of the Press, its 'importance', its 'educative mission' and similar nonsense. The Jews acknowledged all this with a knowing smile and returned thanks.
The reason for this ignominious failure on the part of the State lay not so much in its refusal to realize the danger as in the out-and-out cowardly way of meeting the situation by the adoption of faulty and ineffective measures. No one had the courage to employ any energetic and radical methods. Everyone temporised in some way or other; and instead of striking at its heart, the viper was only further irritated. The result was that not only did everything remain as it was, but the power of this institution which should have been combated grew greater from year to year.
The defence put up by the Government in those days against a mainly Jew-controlled Press that was slowly corrupting the nation, followed no definite line of action, it had no determination behind it and above all, no fixed objective whatsoever in view. This is where official understanding of the situation completely failed both in estimating the importance of the struggle, choosing the means and deciding on a definite plan. They merely tinkered with the problem. Occasionally, when bitten, they imprisoned one or another journalistic viper for a few weeks or months, but the whole poisonous brood was allowed to carry on in peace.
It must be admitted that all this was partly the result of extraordinary crafty tactics on the part of Jewry on the one hand, and obvious official stupidity or naïveté on the other hand. The Jews were too clever to allow a simultaneous attack to be made on the whole of their Press. No one section functioned as cover for the other. While the Marxist newspaper, in the most despicable manner possible, reviled everything that was sacred, furiously attacked the State and Government and incited certain classes of the community against each other, the bourgeois-democratic papers, also in Jewish hands, knew how to camouflage themselves as model examples of objectivity. They studiously avoided harsh language, knowing well that block-heads are capable of judging only by external appearances and never able to penetrate to the real depth and meaning of anything. They measure the worth of an object by its exterior and not by its content. This form of human frailty was carefully studied and understood by the Press.
For this class of blockheads the Frankfurter Zeitung would be acknowledged as the essence of respectability. It always carefully avoided calling a spade a spade. It deprecated the use of every form of physical force and persistently appealed to the nobility of fighting with 'intellectual' weapons. But this fight, curiously enough, was most popular with the least intellectual classes. That is one of the results of our defective education, which turns the youth away from the instinctive dictates of Nature, pumps into them a certain amount of knowledge without however being able to bring them to what is the supreme act of knowing. To this end diligence and goodwill are of no avail, if innate understanding fail. This final knowledge at which man must aim is the understanding of causes which are instinctively perceived.
Let me explain: Man must not fall into the error of thinking that he was ever meant to become lord and master of Nature. A lopsided education has helped to encourage that illusion. Man must realize that a fundamental law of necessity reigns throughout the whole realm of Nature and that his existence is subject to the law of eternal struggle and strife. He will then feel that there cannot be a separate law for mankind in a world in which planets and suns follow their orbits, where moons and planets trace their destined paths, where the strong are always the masters of the weak and where those subject to such laws must obey them or be destroyed. Man must also submit to the eternal principles of this supreme wisdom. He may try to understand them but he can never free himself from their sway.
It is just for intellectual demi-monde that the Jew writes those papers which he calls his ‘intellectual' Press. For them the Frankfurter Zeitung and Berliner Tageblatt are written, the tone being adapted to them, and it is over these people that such papers have an influence. While studiously avoiding all forms of expression that might strike the reader as crude, the poison is injected from other vials into the hearts of the clientele. The effervescent tone and the fine phraseology lug the readers into believing that a love for knowledge and moral principle is the sole driving force that determines the policy of such papers, whereas in reality these features represent a cunning way of disarming any opposition that might be directed against the Jews and their Press.
They make such a parade of respectability that the imbecile readers are all the more ready to believe that the excesses which other papers indulge in are only of a mild nature and not such as to warrant legal action being taken against them. Indeed such action might trespass on the freedom of the Press, that expression being a euphemism under which such papers escape legal punishment for deceiving the public and poisoning the public mind. Hence the authorities are very slow indeed to take any steps against these journalistic bandits for fear of immediately alienating the sympathy of the so-called respectable Press. A fear that is only too well founded, for the moment any attempt is made to proceed against any member of the gutter press all the others rush to its assistance at once, not indeed to support its policy but simply and solely to defend the principle of freedom of the Press and liberty of public opinion. This outcry will succeed in cowering the most stalwart; for it comes from the mouth of what is called decent journalism.
And so this poison was allowed to enter the national bloodstream and infect public life without the Government taking any effectual measures to master the course of the disease. The ridiculous half-measures that were taken were in themselves an indication of the process of disintegration that was already threatening to break up the Empire. For an institution practically surrenders its existence when it is no longer determined to defend itself with all the weapons at its command. Every half-measure is the outward expression of an internal process of decay which must lead to an external collapse sooner or later.
I believe that our present generation would easily master this danger if they were rightly led. For this generation has gone through certain experiences which must have strengthened the nerves of all those who did not become nervously broken by them. Certainly in days to come the Jews will raise a tremendous cry throughout their newspapers once a hand is laid on their favourite nest, once a move is made to put an end to this scandalous Press and once this instrument which shapes public opinion is brought under State control and no longer left in the hands of aliens and enemies of the people. I am certain that this will be easier for us than it was for our fathers. The scream of the twelve-inch shrapnel is more penetrating than the hiss from a thousand Jewish newspaper vipers. Therefore let them go on with their hissing.
A further example of the weak and hesitating way in which vital national problems were dealt with in pre-War Germany is the following: Hand in hand with the political and moral process of infecting the nation, for many years an equally virulent process of infection had been attacking the public health of the people. In large cities, particularly, syphilis steadily increased and tuberculosis kept pace with it in reaping its harvest of death almost in every part of the country.
Although in both cases the effect on the nation was alarming, it seemed as if nobody was in a position to undertake any decisive measures against these scourges.
In the case of syphilis especially the attitude of the State and public bodies was one of absolute capitulation. To combat this state of affairs something of far wider sweep should have been undertaken than was really done. The discovery of a remedy which is of a questionable nature and the excellent way in which it was placed on the market were only of little assistance in fighting such a scourge. Here again the only course to adopt is to attack the disease in its causes rather than in its symptoms. But in this case the primary cause is to be found in the manner in which love has been prostituted. Even though this did not directly bring about the fearful disease itself, the nation must still suffer serious damage thereby, for the moral havoc resulting from this prostitution would be sufficient to bring about the destruction of the nation, slowly but surely. This Judaizing of our spiritual life and mammonizing of our natural instinct for procreation will sooner or later work havoc with our whole posterity. For instead of strong, healthy children, blessed with natural feelings, we shall see miserable specimens of humanity resulting from economic calculation. For economic considerations are becoming more and more the foundations of marriage and the sole preliminary condition of it. And love looks for an outlet elsewhere.
Here, as elsewhere, one may defy Nature for a certain period of time; but sooner or later she will take her inexorable revenge. And when man realizes this truth it is often too late.
Our own nobility furnishes an example of the devastating consequences that follow from a persistent refusal to recognize the primary conditions necessary for normal wedlock. Here we are openly brought face to face with the results of those reproductive habits which on the one hand are determined by social pressure and, on the other, by financial considerations. The one leads to inherited debility and the other to adulteration of the blood-strain; for all the Jewish daughters of the department store proprietors are looked upon as eligible mates to co-operate in propagating His Lordship's stock. And the stock certainly looks it. All this leads to absolute degeneration. Nowadays our bourgeoise are making efforts to follow in the same path, They will come to the same journey's end.
These unpleasant truths are hastily and nonchalantly brushed aside, as if by so doing the real state of affairs could also be abolished. But no. It cannot be denied that the population of our great towns and cities is tending more and more to avail of prostitution in the exercise of its amorous instincts and is thus becoming more and more contaminated by the scourge of venereal disease. On the one hand, the visible effects of this mass-infection can be observed in our insane asylums and, on the other hand, alas! among the children at home. These are the doleful and tragic witnesses to the steadily increasing scourge that is poisoning our sexual life. Their sufferings are the visible results of parental vice.
There are many ways of becoming resigned to this unpleasant and terrible fact. Many people go about seeing nothing or, to be more correct, not wanting to see anything. This is by far the simplest and cheapest attitude to adopt. Others cover themselves in the sacred mantle of prudery, as ridiculous as it is false. They describe the whole condition of affairs as sinful and are profoundly indignant when brought face to face with a victim. They close their eyes in reverend abhorrence to this godless scourge and pray to the Almighty that He--if possible after their own death--may rain down fire and brimstone as on Sodom and Gomorrah and so once again make an outstanding example of this shameless section of humanity. Finally, there are those who are well aware of the terrible results which this scourge will and must bring about, but they merely shrug their shoulders, fully convinced of their inability to undertake anything against this peril. Hence matters are allowed to take their own course.
Undoubtedly all this is very convenient and simple, only it must not be overlooked that this convenient way of approaching things can have fatal consequences for our national life. The excuse that other nations are also not faring any better does not alter the fact of our own deterioration, except that the feeling of sympathy for other stricken nations makes our own suffering easier to bear. But the important question that arises here is: Which nation will be the first to take the initiative in mastering this scourge, and which nations will succumb to it? This will be the final upshot of the whole situation. The present is a period of probation for racial values. The race that fails to come through the test will simply die out and its place will be taken by the healthier and stronger races, which will be able to endure greater hardships. As this problem primarily concerns posterity, it belongs to that category of which it is said with terrible justification that the sins of the fathers are visited on their offspring unto the tenth generation. This is a consequence which follows on an infringement of the laws of blood and race.
The sin against blood and race is the hereditary sin in this world and it brings disaster on every nation that commits it.
The attitude towards this one vital problem in pre-War Germany was most regrettable. What measures were undertaken to arrest the infection of our youth in the large cities? What was done to put an end to the contamination and mammonization of sexual life among us? What was done to fight the resultant spreading of syphilis throughout the whole of our national life? The reply to this question can best be illustrated by showing what should have been done.
Instead of tackling this problem in a haphazard way, the authorities should have realized that the fortunes or misfortunes of future generations depended on its solution. But to admit this would have demanded that active measures be carried out in a ruthless manner. The primary condition would have been that the enlightened attention of the whole country should be concentrated on this terrible danger, so that every individual would realize the importance of fighting against it. It would be futile to impose obligations of a definite character--which are often difficult to bear--and expect them to become generally effective, unless the public be thoroughly instructed on the necessity of imposing and accepting such obligations. This demands a widespread and systematic method of enlightenment and all other daily problems that might distract public attention from this great central problem should be relegated to the background.
In every case where there are exigencies or tasks that seem impossible to deal with successfully public opinion must be concentrated on the one problem, under the conviction that the solution of this problem alone is a matter of life or death. Only in this way can public interest be aroused to such a pitch as will urge people to combine in a great voluntary effort and achieve important results.
This fundamental truth applies also to the individual, provided he is desirous of attaining some great end. He must always concentrate his efforts to one definitely limited stage of his progress which has to be completed before the next step be attempted. Those who do not endeavour to realize their aims step by step and who do not concentrate their energy in reaching the individual stages, will never attain the final objective. At some stage or other they will falter and fail. This systematic way of approaching an objective is an art in itself, and always calls for the expenditure of every ounce of energy in order to conquer step after step of the road. Therefore the most essential preliminary condition necessary for an attack on such a difficult stage of the human road is that the authorities should succeed in convincing the masses that the immediate objective which is now being fought for is the only one that deserves to be considered and the only one on which everything depends. The broad masses are never able clearly to see the whole stretch of the road lying in front of them without becoming tired and thus losing faith in their ability to complete the task. To a certain extent they will keep the objective in mind, but they are only able to survey the whole road in small stages, as in the case of the traveller who knows where his journey is going to end but who masters the endless stretch far better by attacking it in degrees. Only in this way can he keep up his determination to reach the final objective.
It is in this way, with the assistance of every form of propaganda, that the problem of fighting venereal disease should be placed before the public--not as a task for the nation but as THE main task. Every possible means should be employed to bring the truth about this scourge home to the minds of the people, until the whole nation has been convinced that everything depends on the solution of this problem; that is to say, a healthy future or national decay.
Only after such preparatory measures--if necessary spread over a period of many years--will public attention and public resolution be fully aroused, and only then can serious and definite measures be undertaken without running the risk of not being fully understood or of being suddenly faced with a slackening of the public will. It must be made clear to all that a serious fight against this scourge calls for vast sacrifices and an enormous amount of work.
To wage war against syphilis means fighting against prostitution, against prejudice, against old-established customs, against current fashion, public opinion, and, last but not least, against false prudery in certain circles.
The first preliminary condition to be fulfilled before the State can claim a moral right to fight against all these things is that the young generation should be afforded facilities for contracting early marriages. Late marriages have the sanction of a custom which, from whatever angle we view it, is and will remain a disgrace to humanity.
Prostitution is a disgrace to humanity and cannot be removed simply by charitable or academic methods. Its restriction and final extermination presupposes the removal of a whole series of contributory circumstances. The first remedy must always be to establish such conditions as will make early marriages possible, especially for young men--for women are, after all, only passive subjects in this matter.
An illustration of the extent to which people have so often been led astray nowadays is afforded by the fact that not infrequently one hears mothers in so-called 'better' circles openly expressing their satisfaction at having found as a husband for their daughter a man who has already sown his wild oats, etc. As there is usually so little shortage in men of this type, the poor girl finds no difficulty in getting a mate of this description, and the children of this marriage are a visible result of such supposedly sensible unions.
When one realizes, apart from this, that every possible effort is being made to hinder the process of procreation and that Nature is being wilfully cheated of her rights, there remains really only one question: Why is such an institution as marriage still in existence, and what are its functions? Is it really nothing better than prostitution? Does our duty to posterity no longer play any part? Or do people not realize the nature of the curse they are inflicting on themselves and their offspring by such criminally foolish neglect of one of the primary laws of Nature? This is how civilized nations degenerate and gradually perish.
Marriage is not an end in itself but must serve the greater end, which is that of increasing and maintaining the human species and the race. This is its only meaning and purpose.
This being admitted, then it is clear that the institution of marriage must be judged by the manner in which its allotted function is fulfilled. Therefore early marriages should be the rule, because thus the young couple will still have that pristine force which is the fountain head of a healthy posterity with unimpaired powers of resistance. Of course early marriages cannot be made the rule unless a whole series of social measures are first undertaken without which early marriages cannot be even thought of. In other words, a solution of this question, which seems a small problem in itself, cannot be brought about without adopting radical measures to alter the social background. The importance of such measures ought to be studied and properly estimated, especially at a time when the so-called 'social' Republic has shown itself unable to solve the housing problem and thus has made it impossible for innumerable couples to get married. That sort of policy prepares the way for the further advance of prostitution.
Another reason why early marriages are impossible is our nonsensical method of regulating the scale of salaries, which pays far too little attention to the problem of family support. Prostitution, therefore, can only be really seriously tackled if, by means of a radical social reform, early marriage is made easier than hitherto. This is the first preliminary necessity for the solution of this problem.
Secondly, a whole series of false notions must be eradicated from our system of bringing up and educating children--things which hitherto no one seems to have worried about. In our present educational system a balance will have to be established, first and foremost, between mental instruction and physical training.
What is known as Gymnasium (Grammar School) to-day is a positive insult to the Greek institution. Our system of education entirely loses sight of the fact that in the long run a healthy mind can exist only in a healthy body. This statement, with few exceptions, applies particularly to the broad masses of the nation.
In the pre-War Germany there was a time when no one took the trouble to think over this truth. Training of the body was criminally neglected, the one-sided training of the mind being regarded as a sufficient guarantee for the nation's greatness. This mistake was destined to show its effects sooner than had been anticipated. It is not pure chance that the Bolshevic teaching flourishes in those regions whose degenerate population has been brought to the verge of starvation, as, for example, in the case of Central Germany, Saxony, and the Ruhr Valley. In all these districts there is a marked absence of any serious resistance, even by the so-called intellectual classes, against this Jewish contagion. And the simple reason is that the intellectual classes are themselves physically degenerate, not through privation but through education. The exclusive intellectualism of the education in vogue among our upper classes makes them unfit for life's struggle at an epoch in which physical force and not mind is the dominating factor. Thus they are neither capable of maintaining themselves nor of making their way in life. In nearly every case physical disability is the forerunner of personal cowardice.
The extravagant emphasis laid on purely intellectual education and the consequent neglect of physical training must necessarily lead to sexual thoughts in early youth. Those boys whose constitutions have been trained and hardened by sports and gymnastics are less prone to sexual indulgence than those stay-at-homes who have been fed exclusively with mental pabulum. Sound methods of education cannot, however, afford to disregard this, and we must not forget that the expectations of a healthy young man from a woman will differ from those of a weakling who has been prematurely corrupted.
Thus in every branch of our education the day's curriculum must be arranged so as to occupy a boy's free time in profitable development of his physical powers. He has no right in those years to loaf about, becoming a nuisance in public streets and in cinemas; but when his day's work is done he ought to harden his young body so that his strength may not be found wanting when the occasion arises. To prepare for this and to carry it out should be the function of our educational system and not exclusively to pump in knowledge or wisdom. Our school system must also rid itself of the notion that the training of the body is a task that should be left to the individual himself. There is no such thing as allowing freedom of choice to sin against posterity and thus against the race.
The fight against pollution of the mind must be waged simultaneously with the training of the body. To-day the whole of our public life may be compared to a hot-house for the forced growth of sexual notions and incitements. A glance at the bill-of-fare provided by our cinemas, playhouses, and theatres suffices to prove that this is not the right food, especially for our young people. Hoardings and advertisements kiosks combine to attract the public in the most vulgar manner. Anyone who has not altogether lost contact with adolescent yearnings will realize that all this must have very grave consequences. This seductive and sensuous atmosphere puts notions into the heads of our youth which, at their age, ought still to be unknown to them. Unfortunately, the results of this kind of education can best be seen in our contemporary youth who are prematurely grown up and therefore old before their time. The law courts from time to time throw a distressing light on the spiritual life of our 14- and 15-year old children. Who, therefore, will be surprised to learn that venereal disease claims its victims at this age? And is it not a frightful shame to see the number of physically weak and intellectually spoiled young men who have been introduced to the mysteries of marriage by the whores of the big cities?
No; those who want seriously to combat prostitution must first of all assist in removing the spiritual conditions on which it thrives. They will have to clean up the moral pollution of our city 'culture' fearlessly and without regard for the outcry that will follow. If we do not drag our youth out of the morass of their present environment they will be engulfed by it. Those people who do not want to see these things are deliberately encouraging them and are guilty of spreading the effects of prostitution to the future--for the future belongs to our young generation. This process of cleansing our 'Kultur' will have to be applied in practically all spheres. The stage, art, literature, the cinema, the Press and advertisement posters, all must have the stains of pollution removed and be placed in the service of a national and cultural idea. The life of the people must be freed from the asphyxiating perfume of our modern eroticism and also from every unmanly and prudish form of insincerity. In all these things the aim and the method must be determined by thoughtful consideration for the preservation of our national well-being in body and soul. The right to personal freedom comes second in importance to the duty of maintaining the race.
Only after such measures have been put into practice can a medical campaign against this scourge begin with some hope of success. But, here again, half-measures will be valueless. Far-reaching and important decisions will have to be made. It would be doing things by halves if incurables were given the opportunity of infecting one healthy person after another. This would be that kind of humanitarianism which would allow hundreds to perish in order to save the suffering of one individual. The demand that it should be made impossible for defective people to continue to propagate defective offspring is a demand that is based on most reasonable grounds, and its proper fulfilment is the most humane task that mankind has to face. Unhappy and undeserved suffering in millions of cases will be spared, with the result that there will be a gradual improvement in national health. A determined decision to act in this manner will at the same time provide an obstacle against the further spread of venereal disease. It would then be a case, where necessary, of mercilessly isolating all incurables--perhaps a barbaric measure for those unfortunates--but a blessing for the present generation and for posterity. The temporary pain thus experienced in this century can and will spare future thousands of generations from suffering.
The fight against syphilis and its pace-maker, prostitution, is one of the gigantic tasks of mankind; gigantic, because it is not merely a case of solving a single problem but the removal of a whole series of evils which are the contributory causes of this scourge. Disease of the body in this case is merely the result of a diseased condition of the moral, social, and racial instincts.
But if for reasons of indolence or cowardice this fight is not fought to a finish we may imagine what conditions will be like 500 years hence. Little of God's image will be left in human nature, except to mock the Creator.
But what has been done in Germany to counteract this scourge? If we think calmly over the answer we shall find it distressing. It is true that in governmental circles the terrible and injurious effects of this disease were well known, but the counter-measures which were officially adopted were ineffective and a hopeless failure. They tinkered with cures for the symptoms, wholly regardless of the cause of the disease. Prostitutes were medically examined and controlled as far as possible, and when signs of infection were apparent they were sent to hospital. When outwardly cured, they were once more let loose on humanity.
It is true that 'protective legislation' was introduced which made sexual intercourse a punishable offence for all those not completely cured, or those suffering from venereal disease. This legislation was correct in theory, but in practice it failed completely. In the first place, in the majority of cases women will decline to appear in court as witnesses against men who have robbed them of their health. Women would be exposed far more than men to uncharitable remarks in such cases, and one can imagine what their position would be if they had been infected by their own husbands. Should women in that case lay a charge? Or what should they do?
In the case of the man there is the additional fact that he frequently is unfortunate enough to run up against this danger when he is under the influence of alcohol. His condition makes it impossible for him to assess the qualities of his 'amorous beauty,' a fact which is well known to every diseased prostitute and makes them single out men in this ideal condition for preference. The result is that the unfortunate man is not able to recollect later on who his compassionate benefactress was, which is not surprising in cities like Berlin and Munich. Many of such cases are visitors from the provinces who, held speechless and enthralled by the magic charm of city life, become an easy prey for prostitutes.
In the final analysis who is able to say whether he has been infected or not? Are there not innumerable cases on record where an apparently cured person has a relapse and does untold harm without knowing it?
Therefore in practice the results of these legislative measures are negative. The same applies to the control of prostitution, and, finally, even medical treatment and cure are nowadays unsafe and doubtful. One thing only is certain. The scourge has spread further and further in spite of all measures, and this alone suffices definitely to stamp and substantiate their inefficacy. (replaced “inefficiency” – WRF)
Everything else that was undertaken was just as inefficient as it was absurd. The spiritual prostitution of the people was neither arrested nor was anything whatsoever undertaken in this direction.
Those, however, who do not regard this subject as a serious one would do well to examine the statistical data of the spread of this disease, study its growth in the last century and contemplate the possibilities of its further development. The ordinary observer, unless he were particularly stupid, would experience a cold shudder if the position were made clear to him.
The half-hearted and wavering attitude adopted in pre-War Germany towards this iniquitous condition can assuredly be taken as a visible sign of national decay. When the courage to fight for one's own health is no longer in evidence, then the right to live in this world of struggle also ceases.
One of the visible signs of decay in the old REICH was the slow setback which the general cultural level experienced. But by 'Kultur' I do not mean that which we nowadays style as civilization, which on the contrary may rather be regarded as inimical to the spiritual elevation of life.
At the turn of the last century a new element began to make its appearance in our world. It was an element which had been hitherto absolutely unknown and foreign to us. In former times there had certainly been offences against good taste; but these were mostly departures from the orthodox canons of art, and posterity could recognize a certain historical value in them. But the new products showed signs, not only of artistic aberration but of spiritual degeneration. Here, in the cultural sphere, the signs of the coming collapse first became manifest.
The Bolshevization of art is the only cultural form of life and the only spiritual manifestation of which Bolshevism is capable.
Anyone to whom this statement may appear strange need only take a glance at those lucky States which have become Bolshevized and, to his horror, he will there recognize those morbid monstrosities which have been produced by insane and degenerate people. All those artistic aberrations which are classified under the names of cubism and dadism, since the opening of the present century, are manifestations of art which have come to be officially recognized by the State itself. This phenomenon made its appearance even during the short-lived period of the Soviet Republic in Bavaria. At that time one might easily have recognized how all the official posters, propagandist pictures and newspapers, etc., showed signs not only of political but also of cultural decadence.
About sixty years ago a political collapse such as we are experiencing to-day would have been just as inconceivable as the cultural decline which has been manifested in cubist and futurist pictures ever since 1900. Sixty years ago an exhibition of so-called dadistic 'experiences' would have been an absolutely preposterous idea. The organizers of such an exhibition would then have been certified for the lunatic asylum, whereas, to-day they are appointed presidents of art societies. At that time such an epidemic would never have been allowed to spread. Public opinion would not have tolerated it, and the Government would not have remained silent; for it is the duty of a Government to save its people from being stampeded into such intellectual madness. But intellectual madness would have resulted from a development that followed the acceptance of this kind of art. It would have marked one of the worst changes in human history; for it would have meant that a retrogressive process had begun to take place in the human brain, the final stages of which would be unthinkable.
If we study the course of our cultural life during the last twenty-five years we shall be astonished to note how far we have already gone in this process of retrogression. Everywhere we find the presence of those germs which give rise to protuberant growths that must sooner or later bring about the ruin of our culture. Here we find undoubted symptoms of slow corruption; and woe to the nations that are no longer able to bring that morbid process to a halt.
In almost all the various fields of German art and culture those morbid phenomena may be observed. Here everything seems to have passed the culminating point of its excellence and to have entered the curve of a hasty decline. At the beginning of the century the theatres seemed already degenerating and ceasing to be cultural factors, except the Court theatres, which opposed this prostitution of the national art. With these exceptions, and also a few other decent institutions, the plays produced on the stage were of such a nature that the people would have benefited by not visiting them at all. A sad symptom of decline was manifested by the fact that in the case of many 'art centres' the sign was posted on the entrance doors: For Adults Only.
Let it be borne in mind that these precautions had to be taken in regard to institutions whose main purpose should have been to promote the education of the youth and not merely to provide amusement for sophisticated adults. What would the great dramatists of other times have said of such measures and, above all, of the conditions which made these measures necessary? How exasperated Schiller would have been, and how Goethe would have turned away in disgust!
But what are Schiller, Goethe and Shakespeare when confronted with the heroes of our modern German literature? Old and frowsy and outmoded and finished. For it was typical of this epoch that not only were its own products bad but that the authors of such products and their backers reviled everything that had really been great in the past. This is a phenomenon that is very characteristic of such epochs. The more vile and miserable are the men and products of an epoch, the more they will hate and denigrate the ideal achievements of former generations. What these people would like best would be completely to destroy every vestige of the past, in order to do away with that sole standard of comparison which prevents their own daubs from being looked upon as art. Therefore the more lamentable and wretched are the products of each new era, the more it will try to obliterate all the memorials of the past. But any real innovation that is for the benefit of mankind can always face comparison with the best of what has gone before; and frequently it happens that those monuments of the past guarantee the acceptance of those modern productions. There is no fear that modern productions of real worth will look pale and worthless beside the monuments of the past. What is contributed to the general treasury of human culture often fulfils a part that is necessary in order to keep the memory of old achievements alive, because this memory alone is the standard whereby our own works are properly appreciated. Only those who have nothing of value to give to the world will oppose everything that already exists and would have it destroyed at all costs.
And this holds good not only for new phenomena in the cultural domain but also in politics. The more inferior new revolutionary movements are, the more will they try to denigrate the old forms. Here again the desire to pawn off their shoddy products as great and original achievements leads them into a blind hatred against everything which belongs to the past and which is superior to their own work. As long as the historical memory of Frederick the Great, for instance, still lives, Frederick Ebert can arouse only a problematic admiration. The relation of the hero of Sans Souci to the former republican of Bremen may be compared to that of the sun to the moon; for the moon can shine only after the direct rays of the sun have left the earth. Thus we can readily understand why it is that all the new moons in human history have hated the fixed stars. In the field of politics, if Fate should happen temporarily to place the ruling power in the hands of those nonentities they are not only eager to defile and revile the past but at the same time they will use all means to evade criticism of their own acts. The Law for the Protection of the Republic, which the new German State enacted, may be taken as one example of this truth.
One has good grounds to be suspicious in regard to any new idea, or any doctrine or philosophy, any political or economical movement, which tries to deny everything that the past has produced or to present it as inferior and worthless. Any renovation which is really beneficial to human progress will always have to begin its constructive work at the level where the last stones of the structure have been laid. It need not blush to utilize those truths which have already been established; for all human culture, as well as man himself, is only the result of one long line of development, where each generation has contributed but one stone to the building of the whole structure. The meaning and purpose of revolutions cannot be to tear down the whole building but to take away what has not been well fitted into it or is unsuitable, and to rebuild the free space thus caused, after which the main construction of the building will be carried on.
Thus alone will it be possible to talk of human progress; for otherwise the world would never be free of chaos, since each generation would feel entitled to reject the past and to destroy all the work of the past, as the necessary preliminary to any new work of its own.
The saddest feature of the condition in which our whole civilization found itself before the War was the fact that it was not only barren of any creative force to produce its own works of art and civilization but that it hated, defiled and tried to efface the memory of the superior works produced in the past. About the end of the last century people were less interested in producing new significant works of their own--particularly in the fields of dramatic art and literature--than in defaming the best works of the past and in presenting them as inferior and antiquated. As if this period of disgraceful decadence had the slightest capacity to produce anything of superior quality! The efforts made to conceal the past from the eyes of the present afforded clear evidence of the fact that these apostles of the future acted from an evil intent. These symptoms should have made it clear to all that it was not a question of new, though wrong, cultural ideas but of a process which was undermining the very foundations of civilization. It threw the artistic feeling which had hitherto been quite sane into utter confusion, thus spiritually preparing the way for political Bolshevism. If the creative spirit of the Periclean age be manifested in the Parthenon, then the Bolshevist era is manifested through its cubist grimace.
In this connection attention must be drawn once again to the want of courage displayed by one section of our people, namely, by those who, in virtue of their education and position, ought to have felt themselves obliged to take up a firm stand against this outrage on our culture. But they refrained from offering serious resistance and surrendered to what they considered the inevitable. This abdication of theirs was due, however, to sheer funk lest the apostles of Bolshevist art might raise a rumpus; for those apostles always violently attacked everyone who was not ready to recognize them as the choice spirits of artistic creation, and they tried to strangle all opposition by saying that it was the product of philistine and backwater minds. People trembled in fear lest they might be accused by these yahoos and swindlers of lacking artistic appreciation, as if it would have been a disgrace not to be able to understand and appreciate the effusions of those mental degenerates or arrant rogues. Those cultural disciples, however, had a very simple way of presenting their own effusions as works of the highest quality. They offered incomprehensible and manifestly crazy productions to their amazed contemporaries as what they called 'an inner experience'. Thus they forestalled all adverse criticism at very little cost indeed. Of course nobody ever doubted that there could have been inner experiences like that, but some doubt ought to have arisen as to whether or not there was any justification for exposing these hallucinations of psychopaths or criminals to the sane portion of human society. The works produced by a Moritz von Schwind or a Böcklin were also externalizations of an inner experience, but these were the experiences of divinely gifted artists and not of buffoons.
This situation afforded a good opportunity of studying the miserable cowardliness of our so-called intellectuals who shirked the duty of offering serious resistance to the poisoning of the sound instincts of our people. They left it to the people themselves to formulate their own attitude towards his impudent nonsense. Lest they might be considered as understanding nothing of art, they accepted every caricature of art, until they finally lost the power of judging what is really good or bad.
Taken all in all, there were superabundant symptoms to show that a diseased epoch had begun.
Still another critical symptom has to be considered. In the course of the nineteenth century our towns and cities began more and more to lose their character as centres of civilization and became more and more centres of habitation. In our great modern cities the proletariat does not show much attachment to the place where it lives. This feeling results from the fact that their dwelling-place is nothing but an accidental abode, and that feeling is also partly due to the frequent change of residence which is forced upon them by social conditions. There is no time for the growth of any attachment to the town in which they live. But another reason lies in the cultural barrenness and superficiality of our modern cities. At the time of the German Wars of Liberation our German towns and cities were not only small in number but also very modest in size. The few that could really be called great cities were mostly the residential cities of princes; as such they had almost always a definite cultural value and also a definite cultural aspect. Those few towns which had more than fifty thousand inhabitants were, in comparison with modern cities of the same size, rich in scientific and artistic treasures. At the time when Munich had not more than sixty thousand souls it was already well on the way to become one of the first German centres of art. Nowadays almost every industrial town has a population at least as large as that, without having anything of real value to call its own. They are agglomerations of tenement houses and congested dwelling barracks, and nothing else. It would be a miracle if anybody should grow sentimentally attached to such a meaningless place. Nobody can grow attached to a place which offers only just as much or as little as any other place would offer, which has no character of its own and where obviously pains have been taken to avoid everything that might have any resemblance to an artistic appearance.
But this is not all. Even the great cities become more barren of real works of art the more they increase in population. They assume more and more a neutral atmosphere and present the same aspect, though on a larger scale, as the wretched little factory towns. Everything that our modern age has contributed to the civilization of our great cities is absolutely deficient. All our towns are living on the glory and the treasures of the past. If we take away from the Munich of to-day everything that was created under Ludwig II we should be horror-stricken to see how meagre has been the output of important artistic creations since that time. One might say much the same of Berlin and most of our other great towns.
But the following is the essential thing to be noticed: Our great modern cities have no outstanding monuments that dominate the general aspect of the city and could be pointed to as the symbols of a whole epoch. Yet almost every ancient town had a monument erected to its glory. It was not in private dwellings that the characteristic art of ancient cities was displayed but in the public monuments, which were not meant to have a transitory interest but an enduring one. And this was because they did not represent the wealth of some individual citizen but the greatness and importance of the community. It was under this inspiration that those monuments arose which bound the individual inhabitants to their own town in a manner that is often almost incomprehensible to us to-day. What struck the eye of the individual citizen was not a number of mediocre private buildings, but imposing structures that belonged to the whole community. In contradistinction to these, private dwellings were of only very secondary importance indeed.
When we compare the size of those ancient public buildings with that of the private dwellings belonging to the same epoch then we can understand the great the same principle held sway, although the artistic outlook was quite different. In ancient times the theme that found its expression in the Acropolis or the Pantheon was now clothed in the forms of the Gothic Cathedral. In the medieval cities these monumental structures towered gigantically above the swarm of smaller buildings with their framework walls of wood and brick. And they remain the dominant feature of these cities even to our own day, although they are becoming more and more obscured by the apartment barracks. They determine the character and appearance of the locality. Cathedrals, city-halls, corn exchanges, defence towers, are the outward expression of an idea which has its counterpart only in the ancient world.
The dimensions and quality of our public buildings to-day are in deplorable contrast to the edifices that represent private interests. If a similar fate should befall Berlin as befell Rome future generations might gaze upon the ruins of some Jewish department stores or joint-stock hotels and think that these were the characteristic expressions of the culture of our time. In Berlin itself, compare the shameful disproportion between the buildings which belong to the REICH and those which have been erected for the accommodation of trade and finance.
The credits that are voted for public buildings are in most cases inadequate and really ridiculous. They are not built as structures that were meant to last but mostly for the purpose of answering the need of the moment. No higher idea influenced those who commissioned such buildings. At the time the Berlin Schloss was built it had a quite different significance from what the new library has for our time, seeing that one battleship alone represents an expenditure of about sixty million marks, whereas less than half that sum was allotted for the building of the Reichstag, which is the most imposing structure erected for the REICH and which should have been built to last for ages. Yet, in deciding the question of internal decoration, the Upper House voted against the use of stone and ordered that the walls should be covered with stucco. For once, however, the parliamentarians made an appropriate decision on that occasion; for plaster heads would be out of place between stone walls.
The community as such is not the dominant characteristic of our contemporary cities, and therefore it is not to be wondered at if the community does not find itself architecturally represented. Thus we must eventually arrive at a veritable civic desert which will at last be reflected in the total indifference of the individual citizen towards his own country.
This is also a sign of our cultural decay and general break-up. Our era is entirely preoccupied with little things which are to no purpose, or rather it is entirely preoccupied in the service of money. Therefore it is not to be wondered at if, with the worship of such an idol, the sense of heroism should entirely disappear. But the present is only reaping what the past has sown.
All these symptoms which preceded the final collapse of the Second Empire must be attributed to the lack of a definite and uniformly accepted Weltanschauung and the general uncertainty of outlook consequent on that lack. This uncertainty showed itself when the great questions of the time had to be considered one after another and a decisive policy adopted towards them. This lack is also accountable for the habit of doing everything by halves, beginning with the educational system, the shilly-shally, the reluctance to undertake responsibilities [-ies, WRF] and, finally, the cowardly tolerance of evils that were even admitted to be destructive. Visionary humanitarianisms became the fashion. In weakly submitting to these aberrations and sparing the feelings of the individual, the future of millions of human beings was sacrificed.
An examination of the religious situation before the War shows that the general process of disruption had extended to this sphere also. A great part of the nation itself had for a long time already ceased to have any convictions of a uniform and practical character in their ideological outlook on life. In this matter the point of primary importance was by no means the number of people who renounced their church membership but rather the widespread indifference. While the two Christian denominations maintained missions in Asia and Africa, for the purpose of securing new adherents to the Faith, these same denominations were losing millions and millions of their adherents at home in Europe. These former adherents either gave up religion wholly as a directive force in their lives or they adopted their own interpretation of it. The consequences of this were specially felt in the moral life of the country. In parenthesis it may be remarked that the progress made by the missions in spreading the Christian Faith abroad was only quite modest in comparison with the spread of Mohammedanism.
It must be noted too that the attack on the dogmatic principles underlying ecclesiastical teaching increased steadily in violence. And yet this human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief. The great masses of a nation are not composed of philosophers. For the masses of the people, especially faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life. The various substitutes that have been offered have not shown any results that might warrant us in thinking that they might usefully replace the existing denominations. But if religious teaching and religious faith were once accepted by the broad masses as active forces in their lives, then the absolute authority of the doctrines of faith would be the foundation of all practical effort. There may be a few hundreds of thousands of superior men who can live wisely and intelligently without depending on the general standards that prevail in everyday life, but the millions of others cannot do so. Now the place which general custom fills in everyday life corresponds to that of general laws in the State and dogma in religion. The purely spiritual idea is of itself a changeable thing that may be subjected to endless interpretations. It is only through dogma that it is given a precise and concrete form without which it could not become a living faith. Otherwise the spiritual idea would never become anything more than a mere metaphysical concept, or rather a philosophical opinion. Accordingly the attack against dogma is comparable to an attack against the general laws on which the State is founded. And so this attack would finally lead to complete political anarchy if it were successful, just as the attack on religion would lead to a worthless religious nihilism.
The political leader should not estimate the worth of a religion by taking some of its shortcomings into account, but he should ask himself whether there be any practical substitute in a view which is demonstrably better. Until such a substitute be available only fools and criminals would think of abolishing the existing religion.
Undoubtedly no small amount of blame for the present unsatisfactory religious situation must be attributed to those who have encumbered the ideal of religion with purely material accessories and have thus given rise to an utterly futile conflict between religion and science. In this conflict victory will nearly always be on the side of science, even though after a bitter struggle, while religion will suffer heavily in the eyes of those who cannot penetrate beneath the mere superficial aspects of science.
But the greatest damage of all has come from the practice of debasing religion as a means that can be exploited to serve political interests, or rather commercial interests. The impudent and loud-mouthed liars who do this make their profession of faith before the whole world in stentorian tones so that all poor mortals may hear--not that they are ready to die for it if necessary but rather that they may live all the better. They are ready to sell their faith for any political quid pro quo. For ten parliamentary mandates they would ally themselves with the Marxists, who are the mortal foes of all religion. And for a seat in the Cabinet they would go the length of wedlock with the devil, if the latter had not still retained some traces of decency.
If religious life in pre-war Germany had a disagreeable savour for the mouths of many people this was because Christianity had been lowered to base uses by political parties that called themselves Christian and because of the shameful way in which they tried to identify the Catholic Faith with a political party.
This substitution was fatal. It procured some worthless parliamentary mandates for the party in question, but the Church suffered damage thereby.
The consequences of that situation had to be borne by the whole nation; for the laxity that resulted in religious life set in at a juncture when everything was beginning to lose hold and vacillate and the traditional foundations of custom and of morality were threatening to fall asunder.
Yet all those cracks and clefts in the social organism might not have been dangerous if no grave burdens had been laid upon it; but they became disastrous when the internal solidarity of the nation was the most important factor in withstanding the storm of big events.
In the political field also observant eyes might have noticed certain anomalies of the Reich which foretold disaster unless some alteration and correction took place in time. The lack of orientation in German policy, both domestic and foreign, was obvious to everyone who was not purposely blind. The best thing that could be said about the practice of making compromises is that it seemed outwardly to be in harmony with Bismarck's axiom that 'politics is the art of the possible'. But Bismarck was a slightly different man from the Chancellors who followed him. This difference allowed the former to apply that formula to the very essence of his policy, while in the mouths of the others it took on an utterly different significance. When he uttered that phrase Bismarck meant to say that in order to attain a definite political end all possible means should be employed or at least that all possibilities should be tried. But his successors see in that phrase only a solemn declaration that one is not necessarily bound to have political principles or any definite political aims at all. And the political leaders of the Reich at that time had no far-seeing policy. Here, again, the necessary foundation was lacking, namely, a definite Weltanschauung, and these leaders also lacked that clear insight into the laws of political evolution which is a necessary quality in political leadership.
Many people who took a gloomy view of things at that time condemned the lack of ideas and lack of orientation which were evident in directing the policy of the Reich. They recognized the inner weakness and futility of this policy. But such people played only a secondary role in politics. Those who had the Government of the country in their hands were quite as indifferent to principles of civil wisdom laid down by thinkers like Houston Stewart Chamberlain as our political leaders now are. These people are too stupid to think for themselves, and they have too much self-conceit to take from others the instruction which they need. Oxenstierna1 gave expression to a truth which has lasted since time immemorial, when he said that the world is governed by only a particle of wisdom. Almost every civil servant of councillor rank might naturally be supposed to possess only an atom or so belonging to this particle. But since Germany became a Republic even this modicum is wanting. And that is why they had to promulgate the Law for the Defence of the Republic, which prohibits the holding of such views or expressing them. It was fortunate for Oxenstierna that he lived at that time and not in this wise Republic of our time.
1 Swedish Chancellor who took over the reins of Government after the death of Gustavus Adolphus.
Already before the War that institution which should have represented the strength of the Reich--the Parliament, the Reichstag--was widely recognized as its weakest feature. Cowardliness and fear of shouldering responsibilities were associated together there in a perfect fashion.
One of the silliest notions that one hears expressed to-day is that in Germany the parliamentary institution has ceased to function since the Revolution. This might easily be taken to imply that the case was different before the Revolution. But in reality the parliamentary institution never functioned except to the detriment of the country. And it functioned thus in those days when people saw nothing or did not wish to see anything. The German downfall is to be attributed in no small degree to this institution. But that the catastrophe did not take place sooner is not to be credited to the Parliament but rather to those who opposed the influence of this institution which, during peace times, was digging the grave of the German Nation and the German Reich.
From the immense mass of devastating evils that were due either directly or indirectly to the Parliament I shall select one the most intimately typical of this institution which was the most irresponsible of all time. The evil I speak of was seen in the appalling shilly-shally and weakness in conducting the internal and external affairs of the Reich. It was attributable in the first place to the action of the Reichstag and was one of the principal causes of the political collapse.
Everything subject to the influence of Parliament was done by halves, no matter from what aspect you may regard it.
The foreign policy of the Reich in the matter of alliances was an example of shilly-shally. They wished to maintain peace, but in doing so they steered straight into war.
Their Polish policy was also carried out by half-measures. It resulted neither in a German triumph nor Polish conciliation, and it made enemies of the Russians.
They tried to solve the Alsace-Lorraine question through half-measures. Instead of crushing the head of the French hydra once and for all with the mailed fist and granting Alsace-Lorraine equal rights with the other German States, they did neither the one nor the other. Anyhow, it was impossible for them to do otherwise, for they had among their ranks the greatest traitors to the country, such as Herr Wetterlé of the Centre Party.
But still the country might have been able to bear with all this provided the half-measure policy had not victimized that force in which, as the last resort, the existence of the Empire depended: namely, the Army.
The crime committed by the so-called German Reichstag in this regard was sufficient of itself to draw down upon it the curses of the German Nation for all time. On the most miserable of pretexts these parliamentary party henchmen filched from the hands of the nation and threw away the weapons which were needed to maintain its existence and therewith defend the liberty and independence of our people. If the graves on the plains of Flanders were to open to-day the bloodstained accusers would arise, hundreds of thousands of our best German youth who were driven into the arms of death by those conscienceless parliamentary ruffians who were either wrongly educated for their task or only half-educated. Those youths, and other millions of the killed and mutilated, were lost to the Fatherland simply and solely in order that a few hundred deceivers of the people might carry out their political manoeuvres and their exactions or even treasonably pursue their doctrinaire theories.
By means of the Marxist and democratic Press, the Jews spread the colossal falsehood about 'German Militarism' throughout the world and tried to inculpate Germany by every possible means, while at the same time the Marxist and democratic parties refused to assent to the measures that were necessary for the adequate training of our national defence forces. The appalling crime thus committed by these people ought to have been obvious to everybody who foresaw that in case of war the whole nation would have to be called to arms and that, because of the mean huckstering of these noble 'representatives of the people', as they called themselves, millions of Germans would have to face the enemy ill-equipped and insufficiently trained. But even apart from the consequences of the crude and brutal lack of conscience which these parliamentarian rascals displayed, it was quite clear that the lack of properly trained soldiers at the beginning of a war would most probably lead to the loss of such a war; and this probability was confirmed in a most terrible way during the course of the world war.
Therefore the German people lost the struggle for the freedom and independence of their country because of the half-hearted and defective policy employed during times of peace in the organization and training of the defensive strength of the nation.
The number of recruits trained for the land forces was too small; but the same half-heartedness was shown in regard to the navy and made this weapon of national self-preservation more or less ineffective. Unfortunately, even the naval authorities themselves were contaminated with this spirit of half-heartedness. The tendency to build the ship on the stocks somewhat smaller than that just launched by the British did not show much foresight and less genius. A fleet which cannot be brought to the same numerical strength as that of the probable enemy ought to compensate for this inferiority by the superior fighting power of the individual ship. It is the weight of the fighting power that counts and not any sort of traditional quality. As a matter of fact, modern technical development is so advanced and so well proportioned among the various civilized States that it must be looked on as practically impossible for one Power to build vessels which would have a superior fighting quality to that of the vessels of equal size built by the other Powers. But it is even less feasible to build vessels of smaller displacement which will be superior in action to those of larger displacement.
As a matter of fact, the smaller proportions of the German vessels could be maintained only at the expense of speed and armament. The phrase used to justify this policy was in itself an evidence of the lack of logical thinking on the part of the naval authorities who were in charge of these matters in times of peace. They declared that the German guns were definitely superior to the British 30.5 cm. as regards striking efficiency.
But that was just why they should have adopted the policy of building 30.5 cm. guns also; for it ought to have been their object not to achieve equality but superiority in fighting strength. If that were not so then it would have been superfluous to equip the land forces with 42 cm. mortars; for the German 21 cm. mortar could be far superior to any high-angle guns which the French possessed at that time and since the fortresses could probably have been taken by means of 30.5 cm. mortars. The army authorities unfortunately failed to do so. If they refrained from assuring superior efficiency in the artillery as in the velocity, this was because of the fundamentally false 'principle of risk' which they adopted. The naval authorities, already in times of peace, renounced the principle of attack and thus had to follow a defensive policy from the very beginning of the War. But by this attitude they renounced also the chances of final success, which can be achieved only by an offensive policy.
A vessel with slower speed and weaker armament will be crippled and battered by an adversary that is faster and stronger and can frequently shoot from a favourable distance. A large number of cruisers have been through bitter experiences in this matter. How wrong were the ideas prevalent among the naval authorities in times of peace was proved during the War. They were compelled to modify the armament of the old vessels and to equip the new ones with better armament whenever there was a chance to do so. If the German vessels in the Battle of the Skagerrak had been of equal size, the same armament and the same speed as the English, the British Fleet would have gone down under the tempest of the German 38 centimeter shells, which hit their aims more accurately and were more effective.
Japan had followed a different kind of naval policy. There, care was principally taken to create with every single new vessel a fighting force that would be superior to those of the eventual adversaries. But, because of this policy, it was afterwards possible to use the fleet for the offensive.
While the army authorities refused to adopt such fundamentally erroneous principles, the navy--which unfortunately had more representatives in Parliament--succumbed to the spirit that ruled there. The navy was not organized on a strong basis, and it was later used in an unsystematic and irresolute way. The immortal glory which the navy won, in spite of these drawbacks, must be entirely credited to the good work and the efficiency and incomparable heroism of officers and crews. If the former commanders-in-chief had been inspired with the same kind of genius all the sacrifices would not have been in vain.
It was probably the very parliamentarian skill displayed by the chief of the navy during the years of peace which later became the cause of the fatal collapse, since parliamentarian considerations had begun to play a more important role in the construction of the navy than fighting considerations. The irresolution, the weakness and the failure to adopt a logically consistent policy, which is typical of the parliamentary system, contaminated the naval authorities.
As I have already emphasized, the military authorities did not allow themselves to be led astray by such fundamentally erroneous ideas. Ludendorff, who was then a Colonel in the General Staff, led a desperate struggle against the criminal vacillations with which the Reichstag treated the most vital problems of the nation and in most cases voted against them. If the fight which this officer then waged remained unsuccessful this must be debited to the Parliament and partly also to the wretched and weak attitude of the Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg.
Yet those who are responsible for Germany's collapse do not hesitate now to lay all the blame on the shoulders of the one man who took a firm stand against the neglectful manner in which the interests of the nation were managed. But one falsehood more or less makes no difference to these congenital tricksters.
Anybody who thinks of all the sacrifices which this nation has had to bear, as a result of the criminal neglect of those irresponsible individuals; anybody who thinks of the number of those who died or were maimed unnecessarily; anybody who thinks of the deplorable shame and dishonour which has been heaped upon us and of the illimitable distress into which our people are now plunged--anybody who realizes that in order to prepare the way to a few seats in Parliament for some unscrupulous place-hunters and arrivists will understand that such hirelings can be called by no other name than that of rascal and criminal; for otherwise those words could have no meaning. In comparison with traitors who betrayed the nation's trust every other kind of twister may be looked upon as an honourable man.
It was a peculiar feature of the situation that all the real faults of the old Germany were exposed to the public gaze only when the inner solidarity of the nation could be injured by doing so. Then, indeed, unpleasant truths were openly proclaimed in the ears of the broad masses, while many other things were at other times shamefully hushed up or their existence simply denied, especially at times when an open discussion of such problems might have led to an improvement in their regard. The higher government authorities knew little or nothing of the nature and use of propaganda in such matters. Only the Jew knew that by an able and persistent use of propaganda heaven itself can be presented to the people as if it were hell and, vice versa, the most miserable kind of life can be presented as if it were paradise. The Jew knew this and acted accordingly. But the German, or rather his Government, did not have the slightest suspicion of it. During the War the heaviest of penalties had to be paid for that ignorance.
Over against the innumerable drawbacks which I have mentioned here and which affected German life before the War there were many outstanding features on the positive side. If we take an impartial survey we must admit that most of our drawbacks were in great measure prevalent also in other countries and among the other nations, and very often in a worse form than with us; whereas among us there were many real advantages which the other did not have.
The leading phase of Germany's superiority arose from the fact that, almost alone among all the other European nations, the German nation had made the strongest effort to preserve the national character of its economic structure and for this reason was less subject than other countries to the power of international finance, though indeed there were many untoward symptoms in this regard also. And yet this superiority was a perilous one and turned out later to be one of the chief causes of the world war.
But even if we disregard this advantage of national independence in economic matters there were certain other positive features of our social and political life which were of outstanding excellence. These features were represented by three institutions which were constant sources of regeneration. In their respective spheres they were models of perfection and were partly unrivalled.
The first of these was the statal form as such and the manner in which it had been developed for Germany in modern times. Of course we must except those monarchs who, as human beings, were subject to the failings which afflict this life and its children. If we were not so tolerant in these matters, then the case of the present generation would be hopeless; for if we take into consideration the personal capabilities and character of the representative figures in our present regime it would be difficult to imagine a more modest level of intelligence and moral character. If we measure the 'value' of the German Revolution by the personal worth and calibre of the individuals whom this revolution has presented to the German people since November 1918 then we may feel ashamed indeed in thinking of the judgment which posterity will pass on these people, when the Law for the Protection of the Republic can no longer silence public opinion. Coming generations will surely decide that the intelligence and integrity of our new German leaders were in adverse ratio to their boasting and their vices.
It must be admitted that the monarchy had become alien in spirit to many citizens and especially the broad masses. This resulted from the fact that the monarchs were not always surrounded by the highest intelligence--so to say--and certainly not always by persons of the most upright character. Unfortunately many of them preferred flatterers to honest-spoken men and hence received their 'information' from the former. This was a source of grave danger at a time when the world was passing through a period in which many of the old conditions were changing and when this change was affecting even the traditions of the Court.
The average man or woman could not have felt a wave of enthusiasm surging within the breast when, for example, at the turn of the century, a princess in uniform and on horseback had the soldiers file past her on parade. Those high circles had apparently no idea of the impression which such a parade made on the minds of ordinary people; else such unfortunate occurrences would not have taken place. The sentimental humanitarianism--not always very sincere--which was professed in those high circles was often more repulsive than attractive. When, for instance, the Princess X condescended to taste the products of a soup kitchen and found them excellent, as usual, such a gesture might have made an excellent impression in times long past, but on this occasion it had the opposite effect to what was intended. For even if we take it for granted that Her Highness did not have the slightest idea, that on the day she sampled it, the food was not quite the same as on other days, it sufficed that the people knew it. Even the best of intentions thus became an object of ridicule or a cause of exasperation.
Descriptions of the proverbial frugality practised by the monarch, his much too early rise in the morning and the drudgery he had to go through all day long until late at night, and especially the constantly expressed fears lest he might become undernourished--all this gave rise to ominous expression on the part of the people. Nobody was keen to know what and how much the monarch ate or drank. Nobody grudged him a full meal, or the necessary amount of sleep. Everybody was pleased when the monarch, as a man and a personality, brought honour on his family and his country and fulfilled his duties as a sovereign. All the legends which were circulated about him helped little and did much damage.
These and such things, however, are only mere bagatelle. What was much worse was the feeling, which spread throughout large sections of the nation, that the affairs of the individual were being taken care of from above and that he did not need to bother himself with them. As long as the Government was really good, or at least moved by goodwill, no serious objections could be raised. But the country was destined to disaster when the old Government, which had at least striven for the best, became replaced by a new regime which was not of the same quality. Then the docile obedience and infantile credulity which formerly offered no resistance was bound to be one of the most fatal evils that can be imagined.
But against these and other defects there were certain qualities which undoubtedly had a positive effect.
First of all the monarchical form of government guarantees stability in the direction of public affairs and safeguards public offices from the speculative turmoil of ambitious politicians. Furthermore, the venerable tradition which this institution possesses arouses a feeling which gives weight to the monarchical authority. Beyond this there is the fact that the whole corps of officials, and the army in particular, are raised above the level of political party obligations. And still another positive feature was that the supreme rulership of the State was embodied in the monarch, as an individual person, who could serve as the symbol of responsibility, which a monarch has to bear more seriously than any anonymous parliamentary majority. Indeed, the proverbial honesty and integrity of the German administration must be attributed chiefly to this fact. Finally, the monarchy fulfilled a high cultural function among the German people, which made amends for many of its defects. The German residential cities have remained, even to our time, centres of that artistic spirit which now threatens to disappear and is becoming more and more materialistic. The German princes gave a great deal of excellent and practical encouragement to art and science, especially during the nineteenth century. Our present age certainly has nothing of equal worth.
During that process of disintegration which was slowly extending throughout the social order the most positive force of resistance was that offered by the army. This was the strongest source of education which the German people possessed. For that reason all the hatred of our enemies was directed against the paladin of our national self-preservation and our liberty. The strongest testimony in favour of this unique institution is the fact that it was derided, hated and fought against, but also feared, by worthless elements all round. The fact that the international profiteers who gathered at Versailles, further to exploit and plunder the nations directed their enmity specially against the old German army proved once again that it deserved to be regarded as the institution which protected the liberties of our people against the forces of the international stock-exchange. If the army had not been there to sound the alarm and stand on guard, the purposes of the Versailles representatives would have been carried out much sooner. There is only one word to express what the German people owe to this army--Everything!
It was the army that still inculcated a sense of responsibility among the people when this quality had become very rare and when the habit of shirking every kind of responsibility was steadily spreading. This habit had grown up under the evil influences of Parliament, which was itself the very model of irresponsibility. The army trained the people to personal courage at a time when the virtue of timidity threatened to become an epidemic and when the spirit of sacrificing one's personal interests for the good of the community was considered as something that amounted almost to weak-mindedness. At a time when only those were estimated as intelligent who knew how to safeguard and promote their own egotistic interests, the army was the school through which individual Germans were taught not to seek the salvation of their nation in the false ideology of international fraternization between negroes, Germans, Chinese, French and English, etc., but in the strength and unity of their own national being.
The army developed the individual's powers of resolute decision, and this at a time when a spirit of indecision and scepticism governed human conduct. At a time when the wiseacres were everywhere setting the fashion it needed courage to uphold the principle that any command is better than none. This one principle represents a robust and sound style of thought, of which not a trace would have been left in the other branches of life if the army had not furnished a constant rejuvenation of this fundamental force. A sufficient proof of this may be found in the appalling lack of decision which our present government authorities display. They cannot shake off their mental and moral lethargy and decide on some definite line of action except when they are forced to sign some new dictate for the exploitation of the German people. In that case they decline all responsibility while at the same time they sign everything which the other side places before them; and they sign with the readiness of an official stenographer. Their conduct is here explicable on the ground that in this case they are not under the necessity of coming to a decision; for the decision is dictated to them.
The army imbued its members with a spirit of idealism and developed their readiness to sacrifice themselves for their country and its honour, while greed and materialism dominated in all the other branches of life. The army united a people who were split up into classes: and in this respect had only one defect, which was the One Year Military Service, a privilege granted to those who had passed through the high schools. It was a defect, because the principle of absolute equality was thereby violated; and those who had a better education were thus placed outside the cadres to which the rest of their comrades belonged. The reverse would have been better. Since our upper classes were really ignorant of what was going on in the body corporate of the nation and were becoming more and more estranged from the life of the people, the army would have accomplished a very beneficial mission if it had refused to discriminate in favour of the so-called intellectuals, especially within its own ranks. It was a mistake that this was not done; but in this world of ours can we find any institution that has not at least one defect? And in the army the good features were so absolutely predominant that the few defects it had were far below the average that generally rises from human weakness.
But the greatest credit which the army of the old Empire deserves is that, at a time when the person of the individual counted for nothing and the majority was everything, it placed individual personal values above majority values. By insisting on its faith in personality, the army opposed that typically Jewish and democratic apotheosis of the power of numbers. The army trained what at that time was most surely needed: namely, real men. In a period when men were falling a prey to effeminacy and laxity, 350,000 vigorously trained young men went from the ranks of the army each year to mingle with their fellow-men. In the course of their two years' training they had lost the softness of their young days and had developed bodies as tough as steel. The young man who had been taught obedience for two years was now fitted to command. The trained soldier could be recognized already by his walk.
This was the great school of the German nation; and it was not without reason that it drew upon its head all the bitter hatred of those who wanted the Empire to be weak and defenceless, because they were jealous of its greatness and were themselves possessed by a spirit of rapacity and greed. The rest of the world recognized a fact which many Germans did not wish to see, either because they were blind to facts or because out of malice they did not wish to see it. This fact was that the German Army was the most powerful weapon for the defence and freedom of the German nation and the best guarantee for the livelihood of its citizens.
There was a third institution of positive worth, which has to be placed beside that of the monarchy and the army. This was the civil service.
German administration was better organized and better carried out than the administration of other countries. There may have been objections to the bureaucratic routine of the officials, but from this point of view the state of affairs was similar, if not worse, in the other countries. But the other States did not have the wonderful solidarity which this organization possessed in Germany, nor were their civil servants of that same high level of scrupulous honesty. It is certainly better to be a trifle over-bureaucratic and honest and loyal than to be over-sophisticated and modern, the latter often implying an inferior type of character and also ignorance and inefficiency. For if it be insinuated to-day that the German administration of the pre-War period may have been excellent so far as bureaucratic technique goes, but that from the practical business point of view it was incompetent, I can only give the following reply: What other country in the world possessed a better-organized and administered business enterprise than the German State Railways, for instance? It was left to the Revolution to destroy this standard organization, until a time came when it was taken out of the hands of the nation and socialized, in the sense which the founders of the Republic had given to that word, namely, making it subservient to the international stock-exchange capitalists, who were the wire-pullers of the German Revolution.
The most outstanding trait in the civil service and the whole body of the civil administration was its independence of the vicissitudes of government, the political mentality of which could exercise no influence on the attitude of the German State officials. Since the Revolution this situation has been completely changed. Efficiency and capability have been replaced by the test of party-adherence; and independence of character and initiative are no longer appreciated as positive qualities in a public official. They rather tell against him.
The wonderful might and power of the old Empire was based on the monarchical form of government, the army and the civil service. On these three foundations rested that great strength which is now entirely lacking; namely, the authority of the State. For the authority of the State cannot be based on the babbling that goes on in Parliament or in the provincial diets and not upon laws made to protect the State, or upon sentences passed by the law courts to frighten those who have had the hardihood to deny the authority of the State, but only on the general confidence which the management and administration of the community establishes among the people. This confidence is in its turn, nothing else than the result of an unshakable inner conviction that the government and administration of a country is inspired by disinterested and honest goodwill and on the feeling that the spirit of the law is in complete harmony with the moral convictions of the people. In the long run, systems of government are not maintained by terrorism but on the belief of the people in the merits and sincerity of those who administer and promote the public interests.
Though it be true that in the period preceding the War certain grave evils tended to infect and corrode the inner strength of the nation, it must be remembered that the other States suffered even more than Germany from these drawbacks and yet those other States did not fail and break down when the time of crisis came. If we remember further that those defects in pre-War Germany were outweighed by great positive qualities we shall have to look elsewhere for the effective cause of the collapse. And elsewhere it lay.
The ultimate and most profound reason of the German downfall is to be found in the fact that the racial problem was ignored and that its importance in the historical development of nations was not grasped. For the events that take place in the life of nations are not due to chance but are the natural results of the effort to conserve and multiply the species and the race, even though men may not be able consciously to picture to their minds the profound motives of their conduct.