Before the War eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about Before the War.

[Footnote 2:  This message was the response to a memorandum which Sir Ernest Cassel had brought to Berlin from some influential members of the Cabinet in London, and it contained suggestions for the improvement of the relations between the two countries.  An account of Sir Ernest Cassel’s visit, and of what passed when he delivered his message from London, is given in Herr von Bethmann Hollweg’s recent book.]

[Footnote 3:  An anecdote illustrating the change that was coming over political opinion in Germany in 1912, may be worth relating.  I was present at a supper party, given by one of the professors in a well-known German University town, in May of that year.  I asked him whether the old Conservative member who had for long represented the town had been again returned.  “Returned! no,” he replied.  “It was impossible to return a man of moderate opinions.  We only escaped a Social Democrat by a few votes.  We managed to get enough of the popular vote to return a fairly sensible railway servant for this University town.”  I inquired what party he belonged to.  “No old party,” was his answer, and it will interest you to know that his program was an English one:  “Lloyd Georgianismus.”  I then inquired what was his text book. “Die Reden von Lloyd George,” was the answer.  Did it contain anything about a place called Limehouse? “Limhaus, ach ja; das war eine vortreffliche Rede!”]



We now have before us the considered opinions of Herr von Bethmann Hollweg, the late Imperial Chancellor, and of Admiral von Tirpitz, the Minister who did much to develop the naval power of Germany, about the origin and significance of the war.  Both have written books on the subject.[4] It is to be desired that in the case of each of these authors his book should be studied in English-speaking countries as well as on the Continent.  For it is important that the Anglo-Saxon world should understand the divergences in policy which the two books disclose, not less than the points of agreement.  That world has suffered in the past from failure to understand Germany, while the German world has displayed a total inability to interpret aright the Anglo-Saxon disposition.  When I speak of two worlds I mean the governing classes of these worlds.  The nations themselves, taken as aggregates of individual citizens, by a probable majority in each case, desired the continuance of peace and of the prosperity of which it is the condition.  So, of course, did the rulers, those in Germany as much as those in London.  But the German rulers had a theory of how to secure peace which was the outcome of the abstract mind that was their inheritance.  It was the theory that was wrong, a theory of which Anglo-Saxondom knew little, and which it would have rejected decisively had it realized its tendency.  This theory is described in Admiral Tirpitz’s book, with an account of the efforts made to indoctrinate with it the people of Germany.

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Before the War from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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