We must rouse in our people the unanimous wish for power in this sense, together with the determination to sacrifice on the altar of patriotism, not only life and property, but also private views and preferences in the interests of the common welfare. Then alone shall we discharge our great duties of the future, grow into a World Power, and stamp a great part of humanity with the impress of the German spirit. If, on the contrary, we persist in that dissipation of energy which now marks our political life, there is imminent fear that in the great contest of the nations, which we must inevitably face, we shall be dishonourably beaten; that days of disaster await us in the future, and that once again, as in the days of our former degradation, the poet’s lament will be heard:
“O Germany, thy oaks still
But thou art fallen, glorious land!”
THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ARMING FOR WAR
Germany has great national and historical duties of policy and culture to fulfil, and her path towards further progress is threatened by formidable enmities. If we realize this, we shall see that it will be impossible to maintain our present position and secure our future without an appeal to arms.
Knowing this, as every man must who impartially considers the political situation, we are called upon to prepare ourselves as well as possible for this war. The times are passed when a stamp of the foot raised an army, or when it was sufficient to levy the masses and lead them to battle. The armaments of the present day must be prepared in peace-time down to the smallest detail, if they are to be effective in time of need.
Although this fact is known, the sacrifices which are required for warlike preparations are no longer so willingly made as the gravity of the situation demands. Every military proposal is bitterly contested in the Reichstag, frequently in a very petty spirit, and no one seems to understand that an unsuccessful war would involve our nation in economic misery, with which the most burdensome charges for the army (and these for the most part come back again into the coffers of the country) cannot for an instant be compared. A victorious war, on the other hand, brings countless advantages to the conqueror, and, as our last great wars showed, forms a new departure in economic progress. The fact is often forgotten that military service and the observance of the national duty of bearing arms are in themselves a high moral gain for our people, and improve the strength and capacity for work. Nor can it be ignored that a nation has other than merely economic duties to discharge. I propose to discuss the question, what kind and degree of preparation for war the great historical crisis through which we are passing demands from us. First, however, it will be profitable to consider the importance of preparations for war generally, and not so much from the purely military as from the social and political aspect; we shall thus strengthen the conviction that we cannot serve the true interests of the country better than by improving its military capabilities.