Germany and the Next War eBook

Friedrich von Bernhardi
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about Germany and the Next War.

Such a war—­for us more than for any other nation—­must be a war for our political and national existence.  This must be so, for our opponents can only attain their political aims by almost annihilating us by land and by sea.  If the victory is only half won, they would have to expect continuous renewals of the contest, which would be contrary to their interests.  They know that well enough, and therefore avoid the contest, since we shall certainly defend ourselves with the utmost bitterness and obstinacy.  If, notwithstanding, circumstances make the war inevitable, then the intention of our enemies to crush us to the ground, and our own resolve to maintain our position victoriously, will make it a war of desperation.  A war fought and lost under such circumstances would destroy our laboriously gained political importance, would jeopardize the whole future of our nation, would throw us back for centuries, would shake the influence of German thought in the civilized world, and thus check the general progress of mankind in its healthy development, for which a flourishing Germany is the essential condition.  Our next war will be fought for the highest interests of our country and of mankind.  This will invest it with importance in the world’s history.  “World power or downfall!” will be our rallying cry.

Keeping this idea before us, we must prepare for war with the confident intention of conquering, and with the iron resolve to persevere to the end, come what may.

We must therefore prepare not only for a short war, but for a protracted campaign.  We must be armed in order to complete the overthrow of our enemies, should the victory be ours; and, if worsted, to continue to defend ourselves in the very heart of our country until success at last is won.

It is therefore by no means enough to maintain a certain numerical equality with our opponents.  On the contrary, we must strive to call up the entire forces of the nation, and prepare and arm for the great decision which impends.  We must try also to gain a certain superiority over our opponents in the crucial points, so that we may hold some winning trumps in our hand in a contest unequal from the very first.  We must bear these two points in mind when preparing for war.  Only by continually realizing the duties thus laid on us can we carry out our preparations to the fullest, and satisfy the demands which the future makes on us.  A nation of 65,000,000 which stakes all her forces on winning herself a position, and on keeping that position, cannot be conquered.  But it is an evil day for her if she relies on the semblance of power, or, miscalculating her enemies’ strength, is content with half-measures, and looks to luck or chance for that which can only be attained by the exertion and development of all her powers.



In the next European land war we shall probably face our foes with Austria at our side, and thus will be in a position to win the day against any opposing forces.  In a naval war we shall be thrown on our own resources, and must protect ourselves single-handed against the superior forces which will certainly press us hard.

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Germany and the Next War from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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