The second cause of our present position is to be seen in the fact that we started to build our fleet too late. The chief mistake which we have made is that, after the year 1889, when we roused ourselves to vote the Brandenburg type of ship, we sank back until 1897 into a period of decadence, while complete lack of system prevailed in all matters concerning the fleet. We have also begun far too late to develop systematically our coast defences, so that the most essential duties which spring out of the political situation are unfulfilled, since we have not foreseen this situation nor prepared for it.
This experience must be a lesson to us in the future. We must never let the petty cares and needs of the moment blind us to the broad views which must determine our world policy. We must always adopt in good time those measures which are seen to be necessary for the future, even though they make heavy financial calls on our resources.
This is the point of view that we must keep in mind with regard to our naval armament. Even at the eleventh hour we may make up a little for lost time. It will be a heinous mistake if we do not perform this duty devotedly.
THE ARMY AND POPULAR EDUCATION
The policy of peace and restraint has brought us to a position in which we can only assert our place among the Great Powers and secure the conditions of life for the future by the greatest expenditure of treasure and, so far as human conjecture can go, of blood. We shall be compelled, therefore, to adopt, without a moment’s delay, special measures which will enable us to be more or less a match for our enemies—I mean accelerated ship-building and rapid increase of the army. We must always bear in mind in the present that we have to provide for the future.
Apart from the requirements of the moment, we must never forget to develop the elements on which not only our military strength, but also the political power of the State ultimately rest. We must maintain the physical and mental health of the nation, and this can only be done if we aim at a progressive development of popular education in the widest sense, corresponding to the external changes in the conditions and demands of existence.
While it is the duty of the State to guide her citizens to the highest moral and mental development, on the other hand the elements of strength, rooted in the people, react upon the efficiency of the State. Only when supported by the strong, unanimous will of the nation can the State achieve really great results; she is therefore doubly interested in promoting the physical and mental growth of the nation. Her duty and her justification consist in this endeavour, for she draws from the fulfilment of this duty the strength and capacity to be in the highest sense true to it.