ought to have been the duty of any Government which had the care of the people in its keeping, to take this opportunity of mercilessly rooting out everything that was opposed to the national spirit.
While the flower of the nation's manhood was dying at the front, there was time enough at home at least to exterminate this vermin. But, instead of doing so, His Majesty the Kaiser held out his hand to these hoary criminals, thus assuring them his protection and allowing them to regain their mental composure.
And so the viper could begin his work again. This time, however, more carefully than before, but still more destructively. While honest people dreamt of reconciliation these perjured criminals were making preparations for a revolution.
Naturally I was distressed at the half-measures which were adopted at that time; but I never thought it possible that the final consequences could have been so disastrous?
But what should have been done then? Throw the ringleaders into gaol, prosecute them and rid the nation of them? Uncompromising military measures should have been adopted to root out the evil. Parties should have been abolished and the Reichstag brought to its senses at the point of the bayonet, if necessary. It would have been still better if the Reichstag had been dissolved immediately. Just as the Republic to-day dissolves the parties when it wants to, so in those days there was even more justification for applying that measure, seeing that the very existence of the nation was at stake. Of course this suggestion would give rise to the question: Is it possible to eradicate ideas by force of arms? Could a Weltanschauung be attacked by means of physical force?
At that time I turned these questions over and over again in my mind. By studying analogous cases, exemplified in history, particularly those which had arisen from religious circumstances, I came to the following fundamental conclusion:
Ideas and philosophical systems as well as movements grounded on a definite spiritual foundation, whether true or not, can never be broken by the use of force after a certain stage, except on one condition: namely, that this use of force is in the service of a new idea or Weltanschauung which burns with a new flame.
The application of force alone, without moral support based on a spiritual concept, can never bring about the destruction of an idea or arrest the propagation of it, unless one is ready and able ruthlessly to exterminate the last upholders of that idea even to a man, and also wipe out any tradition which it may tend to leave behind. Now in the majority of cases the result of such a course has been to exclude such a State, either temporarily or for ever, from the comity of States that are of political significance; but experience has also shown that such a sanguinary method of extirpation arouses the better section of the population under the persecuting power. As a matter of fact, every persecution which has no spiritual motives to support it is morally unjust and raises opposition among the best elements of the population; so much so that these are driven more and more to champion the ideas that are unjustly persecuted. With many individuals this arises from the sheer spirit of opposition to every attempt at suppressing spiritual things by brute force.
In this way the number of convinced adherents of the persecuted doctrine increases as the persecution progresses. Hence the total destruction of a new doctrine can be accomplished only by a vast plan of extermination; but this, in the final analysis, means the loss of some of the best blood in a nation or State. And that blood is then avenged, because such an internal and total clean-up brings about the collapse of the nation's strength. And such a procedure is always condemned to futility from the very start if the attacked doctrine should happen to have spread beyond a small circle.
That is why in this case, as with all other growths, the doctrine can be exterminated in its earliest stages. As time goes on its powers of resistance increase, until at the approach of age it gives way to younger elements, but under another form and from other motives.
The fact remains that nearly all attempts to exterminate a doctrine, without having some spiritual basis of attack against it, and also to wipe out all the organi-