If we agree on this—and the dangers of the future are compelling us to do so—we shall win our women and children for the same strict sense of nationality. And if our women are with us, and our youths, we are saved for all time. This is one of our present tasks, to give a national education to our children. I am confident that the German women possess all the necessary qualifications for this task. I shall ask you, therefore, to join me in a toast: The German Women in the Grandduchy of Posen! And may the German idea take an ever firmer hold in your country!
TRANSLATED BY EDMUND VON MACH, PH.D.
[The eightieth birthday of Prince Bismarck was celebrated as a national holiday everywhere in Germany. Not less than 5,250 youths from the universities and academies visited Friedrichsruh on April 1 to bear witness, before the “old man” of Germany, to their love for the emperor and the empire. After receiving a delegation from the faculties of all the universities, Bismarck addressed the students as follows:]
Gentlemen! I have just heard from the lips of your teachers, the leaders of higher education, an appreciation of my past, which means much to me. From your greeting, I infer a promise for the future, and this means even more for a man of my years than his love of approbation. You will be able, at least many of you, to live according to the sentiments which your presence here today reveals, and to do so to the middle of the next century, while I have long been condemned to inactivity and belong to the days that are past. I find consolation in this observation, for the German is not so constituted that he could entirely dismiss in his old age what in his youth inspired him. Forty and sixty years hence you will not hold exactly the same views as today, but the seed planted in your young hearts by the reign of Emperor William I. will bear fruit, and, even when you grow old, your attitude will ever be German-national because it is so today—whatever form our institutions may have taken in the meanwhile. We do not wilfully dismiss from our hearts the love of national sentiments; we do not lose them when we emigrate. I know instances of hundreds of thousands of Germans from America, South Africa, and Australia who are today bound to the fatherland with the same enthusiasm which carried many of them to the war.