Honored Sirs: What human insight and power could do to arm a people against the last extremities has been done with your patriotic help. The hostility which has been smouldering for a long time in the East and in the West has now burst into bright flames. The present situation did not proceed from transient conflicts of interest or diplomatic entanglements, it is the result of an ill will which has for many years been active against the strength and the prosperity of the German Empire. We are not incited by lust for conquest, we are inspired by the unyielding determination to keep for ourselves and all future generations the place which God has given us.
From the proofs which have been given you, you will see how my Government, and especially my Chancellor, strove up to the last moment to avert the worst. We grasp the sword in compulsory self-defense, with clean hands and a clean conscience.
To the peoples and races of the German Empire my call goes forth to defend with all their strength and in brotherly co-operation with our ally that which we have created by peaceful labor. After the example of our fathers, firmly and faithfully, sincerely and with chivalry, humbly before God and battling joyfully before the enemy, let us place our trust in the eternal Omnipotence, and may He strengthen our defense and bring it to a good end!
To you, honored sirs,
the whole German people, assembled about its
Princes and its leaders, look this day. Make your decision
unanimously and quickly. That is my heartfelt wish.
Gentlemen (addressing the Deputies directly): You have read what I said to my people the other day from the balcony of my castle. I repeat now that I no longer know any parties. I know only Germans. And in order to testify that you are firmly resolved without distinction of party to stand by my side through danger and death, I call upon the leaders of the different parties in this House to come forward and lay their hands in mine as a pledge.
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