From 1887 on there had been no doubt that in the event of war with France we should have to reckon also with Russia. This meant that the army must be strong enough to be equal to the coming fight on two borders—a tremendous demand upon the resources of a land when one considers that a peaceful folk, devoted to agriculture, industry, and trade, must live for decades in the constant expectation of being obliged, be it tomorrow, be it in ten years, to fight for its life against its two great military neighbors simultaneously. There are, moreover, the great money expenditures, and also the burden of universal military service, which, as is well known, requires every able-bodied male German to serve a number of years with the colors, and later to hold himself ready, first as a reservist, then as member of the Landwehr, and finally as member of the Landsturm, to spring to arms at the call of his supreme war lord, the German Emperor. A warlike, militant nation would not long have endured such conditions, but would have compelled a war and carried it through swiftly. As Bismarck said, however, the German Army, since it is an army of the folk itself, is not a weapon for frivolous aggression. Since the German Army, when it is summoned to war, represents the whole German people, and since the whole German people is peaceably disposed, it follows that the army can only be a defensive organization. If war comes, millions of Germans must go to the front, must leave their parents, their families, their children. They must. And this “must” means not only the command of their Emperor, but also the necessity to defend their own land. Did not this necessity exist, these sons, husbands, and fathers would assuredly not go gladly to the battlefield, and it is likewise certain that those who stayed at home would not rejoice so enthusiastically to see them go as we Germans have seen them rejoicing in these days. Again, then, let us repeat that the German Army is a weapon which can be and is used only for defense against foreign aggressions. When these aggressions come, the whole German folk stands with its army, as it does now.
The German Army is divided into 25 corps in times of peace. In war times reservists, members of the Landwehr, and occasionally also of the Landsturm, are called to the colors. The result is that the German Army on a war footing is a tremendously powerful organ.
Our opponents in foreign countries have for years consistently endeavored to awaken the belief that the German soldier does his obligatory service very unwillingly, that he does not get enough to eat and is badly treated. These assertions are false, and anybody who has seen in these weeks of mobilization how our soldiers, reservists, and Landwehr men departed for the field or reported at the garrisons, anybody who has seen their happy, enthusiastic and fresh faces knows that mishandled men, men who have been drilled as machines, cannot present such an appearance.