Germany and the Next War eBook

Friedrich von Bernhardi
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about Germany and the Next War.
the life of nations by the conscious human endeavour to use it.”  It seemed to me, therefore, to be necessary and profitable, at this parting of the ways of our development where we now stand, to throw what light I may on the different paths which are open to our people.  A nation must fully realize the probable consequences of its action; then only can it take deliberately the great decisions for its future development, and, looking forward to its destiny with clear gaze, be prepared for any sacrifices which the present or future may demand.

These sacrifices, so far as they lie within the military and financial sphere, depend mainly on the idea of what Germany is called upon to strive for and attain in the present and the future.  Only those who share my conception of the duties and obligations of the German people, and my conviction that they cannot be fulfilled without drawing the sword, will be able to estimate correctly my arguments and conclusions in the purely military sphere, and to judge competently the financial demands which spring out of it.  It is only in their logical connection with the entire development, political and moral, of the State that the military requirements find their motive and their justification.

CHAPTER I

THE RIGHT TO MAKE WAR

Since 1795, when Immanuel Kant published in his old age his treatise on “Perpetual Peace,” many have considered it an established fact that war is the destruction of all good and the origin of all evil.  In spite of all that history teaches, no conviction is felt that the struggle between nations is inevitable, and the growth of civilization is credited with a power to which war must yield.  But, undisturbed by such human theories and the change of times, war has again and again marched from country to country with the clash of arms, and has proved its destructive as well as creative and purifying power.  It has not succeeded in teaching mankind what its real nature is.  Long periods of war, far from convincing men of the necessity of war, have, on the contrary, always revived the wish to exclude war, where possible, from the political intercourse of nations.

This wish and this hope are widely disseminated even to-day.  The maintenance of peace is lauded as the only goal at which statesmanship should aim.  This unqualified desire for peace has obtained in our days a quite peculiar power over men’s spirits.  This aspiration finds its public expression in peace leagues and peace congresses; the Press of every country and of every party opens its columns to it.  The current in this direction is, indeed, so strong that the majority of Governments profess—­outwardly, at any rate—­that the necessity of maintaining peace is the real aim of their policy; while when a war breaks out the aggressor is universally stigmatized, and all Governments exert themselves, partly in reality, partly in pretence, to extinguish the conflagration.

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