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.

It would, therefore, be a fatal and foolish act of political weakness to disregard the military and strategic standpoint, and to make the bulk of the preparations for war dependent on the financial moans momentarily available.  “No expenditure without security,” runs the formula in which this policy clothes itself.  It is justified only when the security is fixed by the expenditure.  In a great civilized State it is the duties which must be fulfilled—­as Treitschke, our great historian and national politician, tells us—­that determine the expenditure, and the great Finance Minister is not the man who balances the national accounts by sparing the national forces, while renouncing the politically indispensable outlay, but he who stimulates all the live forces of the nation to cheerful activity, and so employs them for national ends that the State revenue suffices to meet the admitted political demands.  He can only attain this purpose if he works in harmony with the Ministers for Commerce, Agriculture, Industries, and Colonies, in order to break down the restrictions which cramp the enterprise and energy of the individual, to make all dead values remunerative, and to create favourable conditions for profitable business.  A great impulse must thrill the whole productive and financial circles of the State, if the duties of the present and the future are to be fulfilled.

Thus the preparation for war, which, under modern conditions, calls for very considerable expenditure, exercises a marked influence on the entire social and political life of the people and on the financial policy of the State.



The social necessity of maintaining the power of the nation to defend itself, the political claims which the State puts forward, the strength of the probable hostile combinations, are the chief factors which determine the conditions of preparation for war.

I have already tried to explain and formulate the duties in the spheres of policy and progress which our history and our national character impose on us.  My next task is to observe the possible military combinations which we must be prepared to face.

In this way only can we estimate the dangers which threaten us, and can judge whether, and to what degree, we can carry out our political intentions.  A thorough understanding of these hostile counter-movements will give us a clear insight into the character of the next war; and this war will decide our future.

It is not sufficient to know the military fighting forces of our probable antagonists, although this knowledge constitutes the necessary basis for further inquiry; but we must picture to ourselves the intensity of the hostility with which we have to reckon and the probable efficiency of oar enemies.  The hostility which we must anticipate is determined by the extent to which mutual political schemes and ambitions clash, and by the opposition in national character.  Our opinion as to the military efficiency of our rivals must be based on the latest data available.

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