The survival of the fittest.—German thinkers carried to an extreme the theory of the survival of the fittest. This doctrine teaches that all living things have reached their present forms through a gradual development of those qualities which best fit them to live in their present surroundings. Those that are best adapted live on, and produce a new generation that are also well fitted to survive. Those that are not fitted to their surroundings soon give up the struggle and die. The Germans applied this same belief to nations, and claimed that only those nations survived that could successfully meet world conditions. They believed that war was an inevitable world condition, and that that nation would survive that was best able to fight. They believed in war, because they believed that just as nature removes the weak animal or plant by an early death, so the weak nation should pay the penalty of its weakness by being defeated in war and absorbed by the stronger one. War would prove which nation was the most nearly perfect. The Germans had no doubt that this nation was Germany. Acceptance of this belief by the German people had much to do with bringing on the present war.
Germany wanted to germanize the world.—As a result of the reasoning outlined in the last paragraph, German writers taught that those things which were German—their speech, their literature, their religion, their armies, in short the manners, customs, and thoughts of the Germans—were the best possible manners, and customs, and thoughts. These things all taken together are what is meant by Kultur (kool-toor’),—not merely “culture” as the latter word is generally used.
Since the Germans believed that their Kultur was the highest stage of human progress, the next step, according to the view of their leaders, would be to Germanize all the rest of the nations of the earth by imposing German Kultur upon them. If possible, this was to be brought about with the consent of the other nations; if not, then it was to be imposed by force.
Suggestions for study.—1. Locate Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bremen, East Prussia, Alsace-Lorraine. 2. Show on an outline map the regions which Germany desired to control. Who would have suffered? 3. If all countries adopted the German idea of war what would be the condition of the world? 4. Has any nation the right to impose its rule upon another people because it believes its own ideals are the only true ones?
page 26; also Conquest and Kultur
(C.P.I.); War Cyclopedia (C.P.I.), under the headings
“German Military Autocracy” and “Pan-Germanism.”