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The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife.

V.

THE CASE FOR GERMANY

Having put in the last chapter some of the points which seem to throw the immediate blame of the war on Germany, it would be only fair in the present chapter to show how in the long run and looking to the general European situation to-day as well as to the history of Germany in the past, the war had become inevitable, and in a sense necessary, as a stage in the evolution of European politics.

After the frightful devastation of Germany by the religious dissensions of the early part of the seventeenth century and the Thirty Years War, it fell to Frederick the Great, not only to lay a firm foundation for the Prussian State but to elevate it definitely as a rival to Austria in the leadership of Germany.  Thenceforth Prussia grew in power and influence, and became the nucleus of a new Germany.  It would almost seem that things could not well have been otherwise.  Germany was seeking for a new root from which to grow.  Clerical and ultra-Catholic Austria was of no use for this purpose.  Bavaria was under the influence of France.  Lutheran Prussia attracted the best elements of the Teutonic mind.  It seems strange, perhaps, that the sandy wastes of the North-East, and its rather arid, dour population, should have become the centre of growth for the new German nation, considering the latter’s possession of its own rich and vital characteristics, and its own fertile and beautiful lands; but so it was.  Perhaps the general German folk, with their speculative, easygoing, almost sentimental tendencies, needed this hard nucleus of Prussianism—­and its matter-of-fact, organizing type of ability—­to crystallize round.

The Napoleonic wars shattered the old order of society, and spread over Europe the seeds of all sorts of new ideas, in the direction of nationality, republicanism, and so forth.  Fichte, stirred by Napoleon’s victory at Jena (Fichte’s birthplace) and the consequent disaster to his own people, wrote his Addresses to the German Nation, pleading eloquently for a “national regeneration.”  He, like Vom Stein, Treitschke, and many others in their time, came to Berlin and established himself there as in the centre of a new national activity.  Vom Stein, about the same time, carried out the magnificent and democratic work by which he established on Napoleonic lines (and much to Napoleon’s own chagrin) the outlines of a great and free and federated Germany.  Carl von Clausewitz did in the military world much what Stein did in the civil world.  He formulated the strategical methods and teachings of Napoleon, and in his book Vom Krieg (published 1832) not only outlined a greater military Germany, but laid the basis, it has been said, of all serious study in the art of war.  Vom Stein and Clausewitz died in the same year, 1831.  In 1834 Heinrich von Treitschke was born.

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