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.

The statesman who wishes to learn from history should above all things recognize this one fact—­that success is necessary to gain influence over the masses, and that this influence can only be obtained by continually appealing to the national imagination and enlisting its interest in great universal ideas and great national ambitions.  Such a policy is also the best school in which to educate a nation to great military achievements.  When their spirits are turned towards high aims they feel themselves compelled to contemplate war bravely, and to prepare their minds to it: 

  “The man grows up, with manhood’s nobler aims.”

We may learn something from Japan on this head.  Her eyes were fixed on the loftiest aims; she did not shrink from laying the most onerous duties on the people, but she understood how to fill the soul of the whole people with enthusiasm for her great ideals, and thus a nation of warriors was educated which supplied the best conceivable material for the army, and was ready for the greatest sacrifices.

We Germans have a far greater and more urgent duty towards civilization to perform than the Great Asiatic Power.  We, like the Japanese, can only fulfil it by the sword.

Shall we, then, decline to adopt a bold and active policy, the most effective means with which we can prepare our people for its military duty?  Such a counsel is only for those who lack all feeling for the strength and honour of the German people.



From the discussions in the previous chapter it directly follows that the political conduct of the State, while affecting the mental attitude of the people, exercises an indirect but indispensable influence on the preparation for war, and is to some degree a preparation for war itself.

But, in addition to the twofold task of exercising this intellectual and moral influence, and of placing at the disposal of the military authorities the necessary means for keeping up the armaments, still further demands must be made of those responsible for the guidance of the State.  In the first place, financial preparations for war must be made, quite distinct from the current expenditure on the army; the national finances must be so treated that the State can bear the tremendous burdens of a modern war without an economic crash.  Further, as already mentioned in another place, there must be a sort of mobilization in the sphere of commercial politics in order to insure under all eventualities the supply of the goods necessary for the material and industrial needs of the country.  Finally, preparations for war must also be made politically; that is to say, efforts must be made to bring about a favourable political conjuncture, and, so far as possible, to isolate the first enemy with whom a war is bound to come.  If that cannot be effected, an attempt must he made to win allies, in whom confidence can be reposed should war break out.

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