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W A R - A I M S









" Never in the history of the world has a greater crime than this been
committed. Never has a crime after its commission been denied with
greater effrontery and hypocrisy." — " J'ACCUSE.'"'





.G 8
^ V. 3









The Question of Guilt : Firm Ground ; War-Aims : Un-
certain Ground — The Basic Lines of the War-Aims on
both sides — Territorial Questions — The Investigation of
War-Aims : a Stone in the Building of Accusation — The
German War-Aiins — Bethmann the Annexationist : Beth-
mann the " Pacifist " : Bethmann the Offerer of Peace —
Intention and Success of the Crime 1-15


A. Comments on the Chancellor's Speech of Dec. 9th, 1915.

The Prussian Military Spirit : the true Disturber of the Peace
of Europe — What is Militarism ? — Pan-Germany here and
everywhere ! — European Peace — Nations of Europe,
Preserve your Holiest Possessions ! — The Imperialist
Sviperstition — Biilow and Bethmann.

B. Com,ments on the Chancellor's Speech of April 5th, 1916.

War of Defence, not Preventive War — Cause of the War :
War -Aims — The Kingdom of Poland — The Amiexation of
Flemish Territories — Conquerors against their Will —
Social Democracy and Annexations — -The Imperial
Conference of the Social Democratic Party — The Resolu-
tion of April 19th, 1917 — Bethmann's Refusal of the
Socialist Peace Programme — The Blindness and Deafness
of the Social Patriots — Germany as the " Bringer of
Freedom" — The War- Aims of Germany's Opponents —
Asquith — Vandervelde — Grey — Lloyd George — Viviani



— Duel between Briand and Bethmann, Sept., 1916 —
Ribot, Wilson, Provisional Russian Government, etc. —
Germany's War-Aims — The Emperor — Tirpitz and hia
followers — The " German National Committee " — War-
Aims and Actual Behaviour before the War — What ia
Prussian Militarism ? — What is Prussian Junkerdom ? —
Nobles, "Corps Brothers" and Reserve Officers — The
Junkers and the European War — The jMeaning and the
Object of the War (according to Bethmann) — German
Peace : European Peace — The New Question of Guilt . 1Ö-163



The Question of Guüt— War- Aims 164-208



The Salient Point in Judging of Peace Conditions — Peace
Demands of the Aggressor : Peace Demands of the
Party attacked — -The German Peace Demands — The
Peace Demands of the Entente Powers — General Prin-
ciples in Judging the Peace Demands of the Aggi'essor
and of the Party attacked — Practical Application of
these Principles to the Present War — The State of
Defence : the Foundation in Law of the Party attacked
— The Peace Demands of the Party attacked — Future
Security — -Intervention or Non-intervention in the
Internal Affairs of the Enemy ? — Germany's attitude
towards the Idea of an International Leagvie of Peace —
Territorial Alterations — First Special Peace, and then
World Peace ? — Bethmann and Michaelis — Pacifism " as
he understands it " — Conclusion 208-319

Quo vadi3, Germania ? 220-336

Tran3Lator'3 Note 337-346

Index 347-354







I PROPOSE to treat the question of war-aims in a series
of memoirs, composed at various times immediately after
the crises on this subject. These essays closely follow
the events in question, like a critical shadow, and in this
way clearly indicate all the halting places on the pathway
to the peace of the future. ^

This method of treatment, which was in the first place
imposed by the manner in which the articles came into
being, has the advantage, in my opinion a very considerable
one, that it reproduces the vivid impression which the
events produced on the writer at the moment, and not a
dry historical report written at a distance. Such a method
enlivens the account and, as I believe, makes it more
attractive to the reader by presenting him with a kind of
diary of war-aims, which with light pencil chronicles the
decisive events on the world theatre, and, if we may trans-
fer Zola's famous definition from art to politics, reveals
" chaque coin des evenements ä tracers un temperament.

On the other hand, the chronological method of treat-
ment had certainly this drawback, that it could only
consider the events existing at any one time, not those
which may have followed at a later date. I have

^ Of the essays contained in this section " Bethmann the Pacifist "
alone has hitherto been pubhshed (in Wissen und Leben, Orell
Füssli, December, 1916, January, 1917). The remaining essays
have not previously appeared in their present form.

VOL. Ill B


endeavoured to overcome this disadvantage by adding to
the essays a number of amplifications, bearing on later
events, and in this way I was able to sketch a complete
view of the situation, as it existed about the spring of 1917,
on the conclusion of this last section of my work.

I have not considered it necessary on each occasion to
emphasise these additions as such, since the reader can at
once distinguish the addition from the original text by
reference to the events discussed.

The Question of Guilt — Firm Ground
War-Aims — Uncertain Ground.

The discussion of war-aims is differentiated from the
discussion of the question of guilt in the fundamental
point that the question of guilt, that is to say the question :
" Who bears the responsibility for the European War ? "
was decided on August 4th, 1914, and indeed on August
1st, with Germany's declaration of war against Russia.
All the considerations necessary to form an opinion on the
responsibility for the European War, which was bound
almost automatically to develop out of the German-
Russian War, were already furnished on that day. All the
later diplomatic publications had no other end in view,
and had no other effect, than to illuminate those con-
siderations of guilt which already existed in the first days
of August, 1914.

In the investigation of the question of guilt we thus
move on ground that is clearly marked off, and it is only
the judgment passed on, and the value attached to, the
various considerations of guilt, that vary according to
the standpoint of the critic. Moreover, even in remote
times it will be on the basis of the same material as is
accessible to us to-day — perhaps with the addition of
certain later revelations, of no importance so far as the
main question is concerned — that inquiry will be made
into the great historical question : " Who provoked the
European War of 1914 ? "

The position is quite different with regard to the question
of war-aims. Here we do not stand on firm ground, but


on very uncertain ground. The war-aims are most in-
timately connected, not merely with the causes of the war
■ — on which I have fully expressed my views elsewhere —
but also with the success achieved in the war, that is to
say, they are related to the constantly varying military
situation, which in the nature of things involves a constant
rise and fall in the aims of the belligerent parties. Their
wishes may no doubt remain the same, but the prospects
of their realisation vary. Thus the parties may find
themselves compelled to moderate their wishes temporarily,
or at any rate to place them in the background so long as
matters are going badly from a military point of view ;
whereas on the other hand, when things go better, they
are in a position to come forward once more with their
earlier wishes and perhaps even to place them still higher.
Not even the most rabid annexationist can fail to repress
his expansionist aims, if he is convinced from the war
situation that they cannot be attained, or at any rate cannot
be attained in their full extent. He will, however, once
more emerge with his annexationist desires as soon as the
military situation appears to permit their accomplishment.

The Basic Lines of the War-Aims on Both Sides.

As it is not, and cannot be, my task to enumerate here
all these temporary oscillations, which have no relation
to the purpose and the aim of my work, I am in this
place compelled to restrict myself to indicating the basic
lines of the war-aims of the two groups of Powers, without
following the parties along all the side-paths which they
may choose to open. The basic lines are plain and clearly
perceptible ; the side-paths are often confused, often lead
into copsewood and thicket, and obscure rather than
illuminate the points of contrast.

By basic lines I understand those general and original
tendencies which on the outbreak of war in August, 1914,
governed those Powers immediately concerned. As we
have seen in the second section of this book, and as we
shall find confirmed in the third section which follows,
these were on the German side tendencies of imperialistic

B 2


extension of power ; on the side of the Entente it was
primarily the tendency to defence against a criminal act
of aggression, and secondarily that of protection against
futm'e disturbances of the peace.

The war-aim of the Entente Powers was thus in its
original tendency nothing more than the repulse of the
German attack from their own frontiers as well as from the
frontiers of Serbia and Belgium, the liberation of the
territories occupied by Germany, the creation between
States, or rather above States, of a condition of law which
would render the present disturber of the peace innocuous
for the future and would once for all establish the standards
of law in place of violence. The longer the war has lasted,
the more has this latter war-aim of the Entente Powers
emerged with distinctness and precision as the main object
of the Allied Powers. In the following chapters we shall
find collected the utterances of English and French states-
men who from the beginning of the war until to-day have
proclaimed that the most important war-aim of the allied
nations is the creation of a league of nations to secm-e the
establishment and the enduring maintenance of the peace
of the world.

The accession of America to the group of the Entente
Powers has completely confirmed this war-aim as the
cardinal point in the world- struggle, and has thus imparted
to the sanguinary contest an unparalleled world- historical
importance. A few weeks after its success the Russian
Revolution on its side also inexorably swept away the
aims of conquest proclaimed by the Tsar's Government,
and set in their place a Socialist-Pacifist programme,
which in every word is in agreement with President Wilson's
noble ideas of peace.

Territorial Questions.

It is true that on the side of the Entente Powers there
was also a period in the peace-discussions — before the
adhesion of America and before the outbreak of the Russian
Revolution — when certain territorial wishes on the part
of individual Powers belonging to the Entente Alliance
appeared to obscure and to press into the background the


great main object of this alliance, which was to repel and
render innocuous the disturber of the peace, and to protect
the world permanently from similar disturbances of the
peace. That was an episode which could easily be ex-
plained and justified by the frivolous provocation of war
on the part of the Central Powers and by the even more
frivolous proclamation of the German aims of conquest,
although, however, it threatened for a time to obliterate
and to rob of its historical significance the great and
permanent features of the titanic struggle of two cosmic
views, that of the democratic-pacifist on the one hand,
and that of the autocratic-militaristic on the other.

The position has now fortunately changed. This
confusing interlude lasted only a few months. Under the
leadership of the powerful transatlantic Republic, with the
accession of the newly arisen Russian Republic, the alliance
of the united democracies against the united autocracies
has assumed a firmer form than before ; the ideas of the
freedom of the nations within, and of the peace of the
nations without, in their struggle against political tutelage
within, and against military guarantees of power without,
have found a surer resting-place and a more powerful
support. As a result of the most recent phase of the
struggle the antitheses between the points of view on the
two sides have been even more sharply manifested than
at the beginning of the war. To-day even the blindest
must recognise that on the standard of the one party
Progress is inscribed, on that of the other Retrogression.

All the small territorial desires which this one or that of
the allied Powers may at an earlier period have put for-
ward, and may in part still advance to-day, disappear when
viewed in conjunction with this great contrast. It can cer-
tainly be assumed — and all President Wilson's statements as
well as those of the provisional Government of Russia
confirm the assumption — that the United States, and
equally so the Russian Republic, have not only at the
present moment a seat and a voice in the council of the
belligerents, but that they will have these above all in
the council of the nations concluding peace, and that these
greatest and freest Republics of the world will not give
their assent to a continuation of the struggle purely for aims


of conquest. They will tolerate and accept in their com-
mon programme of peace, along with the unanimous
demand for restitution, reparation and guarantees, only
such aims of their allies as are restricted to territorial
alterations demanded by the principle of nationality, and
by the right of self-determination of the population of
certain disputed territories.

All these individual territorial questions, which in part
existed before the war but have been rendered acute only
through the war and in consequence of the war, I leave
aside in my discussion of war-aims, since they are in no
way connected with the purpose of my discussion.

All these are consequences of the war, accessory war-
aims which have been added to the original aims of the
States directly involved. They represent the reaction
against the aims of annexation and conquest openly
proclaimed by the aggressor, and at the same time
they are the consequence of the later participation of
other States which have adhered to one party or the
other exclusively in the interests of their power.
Germany's aims of conquest have called into being aims
of conquest in certain Powers on the other side. The
accession of other Powers on one side or the other has
engendered or revived tendencies to the extension of
power of some against others, which would never have
awakened from their sleep of centuries and which would
certainly never have been used as combustible material
to enkindle a world-conflagration apart from the provoca-
tion of war by Germany.

I refrain from discussion of all these individual territorial
questions for this further reason, that such a discussion
could only take place on the basis of imperialistic con-
siderations, which I from my personal point of view
entirely reject, no matter from what side they may be
advanced. The ground for the future peace of Europe
is in no way levelled as a result of the transposition of
lands and peoples from the point of view of the guarantee
and extension of power ; it is on the contrary undermined
in advance. Only an order resting on law can permanently
and successfully guarantee the future condition of peace.


The Investigation of War-Aims — a Stone in the
Building of Accusation.

My investigation regarding the war-aims of the chief
Powers concerned forms only a part of my arraignment,
it is only a stone in my building of accusation. As a crime
without motives is not conceivable, or at any rate is not
credible, so the investigation of the original war-aims
serves only to answer the question : " Who is responsible
for having provoked the European War ? " I investigate
the war-aims with which the chief Powers concerned
entered the war because these aims furnish the motive of
the war ; that is to say, the necessary amplification of
the proof of guilt. On the other hand, I leave aside those
war-aims which were formed in one Power or another
only after the outbreak of war and in consequence of the
outbreak of war, because these war-aims which appeared
at a later date have nothing to do with the origin of the
war, that is to say with the question of the guilt of the

The German War-Aims.

It is from this point of view that I treat the German
war-aims also. In their basic lines Germany's war-aims
have never varied, even if they may have been phrased
in harsher or milder language, expressed more distinctly
or ambiguously according to the military situation for the
time being. From the first moment they have been aims
of conquest — aims of conquest under the mask of defence
and the " security of the future of Germany."

According to Herr von Bethmann's expression, the
German peace-demands rest on the war-map. But since
this war-map is subject to constant oscillations, it neces-
sarily follows that the German peace-demands must also
have suffered certain oscillations which, however, have
not gained expression in a material reduction of terms,
but only in a temporary formal restraint. At one time it
was loudly trumpeted throughout the world that all the
peoples in the east and the west, in the south and the
north who were thirsting for freedom were to be freed


from their bondage by the German sword. At another
time it was thought sufficient to sound the more dulcet
notes of the " security of Germany " against new attacks,
and to speak of " Germany's future and her freedom of
development," of an " honourable peace," which it is true
must give us " compensation for all sacrifices." In
substance the original programme of conquest was main-
tained from the first moment to the last, and is in fact still
maintained ; the only difference being that the phantom
was variously clothed, according to the time and the
circumstances, at one time with the streaming toga of the
liberator of the world, at another time with the modest
uniform of the defender of the Fatherland. On the
principle : " Cest le ton qui fait la chanson,''^ the tune was
occasionally changed, but in essence it was always the
same music that was produced.

When the German sky was still rosy, when a German
" victory " still found belief, the Chancellor on December
9th, 1915, and April 5th, 1916, delivered his two celebrated
annexationist speeches, which were scarcely distinguishable
from the extravagances of the extremest Pan-jSermanism
in their annexationist outbursts in every direction under
the sun, and which were, therefore, greeted with uproarious
applause by all the nationalist and annexationist parties
in the Reichstag. These speeches I discuss in the next
following chapter — " Bethmann the Annexationist."

When at a later date the attack on Verdun had definitively
failed, when the enemy in the West began to move forward,
it was not merely the German troops but also the German
war-aims that executed a corresponding withdrawal.
When the conquest of Rumania had again temporarily
strengthened the German prospects of success, the German
intentions of annexation and conquest, which had for a
time been subdued, sprang aloft once more. The successes
of the embittered submarine warfare let loose a new orgy
of annexationism. Like earthworms after a storm, there
again emerged from every conceivable nook and corner
the most extreme super-annexationists — figures which we
had long believed we had forgotten — demands which we
had long imagined had perished of their own extravagance.


The notorious six economic associations appeared on the
surface in an improved and enlarged edition and presented
their old account : Better protection of the frontier ; land
for colonisation ; naval power ; increase of power and
acquisition of territory on land ; a German victory and a
German peace.

Naturally the high Protector of all these super-annexa-
tionist efforts, the German Crown Prince, could not be
absent from this new " national " witches' sabbath. • This
baneful expectant of a Throne, who had been before the
war the most effective battering-ram of all the war-
intriguers against the still vacillating bearer of the Crown
and against his Government, has become during the war
the most influential wire-puller and lobbier in the courtly
puppet-plaj^ which has for its object the attainment of a
German peace of power and violence. We are now
accustomed to the fact that whenever the points of differ-
ence between brutality and moderation become acute in
the environment of " the All-Highest War-Lord," the
princely son comes to the help of the firebrands against
the Government of his imperial father with telegrams or
other demonstrations, and that he gains every time the
success he desires. Such crown-princely telegrams —
according to their contents and the persons to whom they
are addressed — are always the weathercocks which in-
dicate the direction of the wind in the high places of the
German people. From this point of view serious con-
sideration is claimed by the following telegram which, in
the beginning of May, 1917, the Imperial Prince addressed
to Professor Dietrich Schäfer, the President of the
extremest of all German annexationist leagues, the
" Independent Committee for a German Peace " :

" I have been specially pleased by the friendly
wishes of the ' Independent Committee for a German
Peace ' and convey my thanks to all who have thought
of me.

Wilhelm, Crown Prince."

This telegram from the Crown Prince to Dietrich Schäfer
possesses almost the same significance in relation to war-
aims as the Prince's telegram to Frobenius, the author of


the pamphlet The German Empire's Hour of Destiny, had
at the time in connection with the provocation of war
(see J''accuse, page 34). Then the heir to the German
Throne ostentatiously placed himself on the side of the
inciters to war ; to-day with equal ostentation he places
himself on the side of the prolongers of the war. How
long will the German people continue to tolerate such an
incorrigibly infatuated intriguer and inciter as heir to the
German Imperial Throne ?

As temporary success in the war furnishes the pitch for
the manner and intensity with which the intentions of
conquest are intimated on the side of Germany, so con-
versely it is possible to regard moderation and restraint
in putting forward these intentions as a sure barometer
indicating a depression in the internal and external situation
of Germany. Like the needle of a magnet, the German
war-aims themselves always remain pointing in the same
direction. But their extent and the manner in which
they are to be enforced oscillate to and fro like the indicator
on a balance, according to the varying fortune of the iron
game of dice. There was a moment when the scale con-
taining the trophies of victory had rapidly risen so high
that Herr von Bethmann suddenly acknowledged pacifist
ideas, which he had throughout his life declared to be
Utopian, and which he had unremittingly opposed. A
month later the prospects of a victory of the Central
Powers had sunk still lower and the dangers involved in a
continuation of the war had so increased that the
Governments of Germany and Austria had resolved on
the portentous offer of their willingness to enter into direct
peace negotiations with their opponents. The theoretical
pacifism of November, 1916, had become a practical peace
offer in December, but neither of these stages in the
development had led to any express renunciation, or even
to a material diminution, of the aims of conquest towards
the East and the West which had been proclaimed up till
then. No such renunciation, whether in greater or less
degree, has ever at any time been expressed until the present
day (April, 1917). On the contrary, the German Govern-


ment has even quite recently answered the Social Demo-

Online LibraryRichard GrellingThe crime (Das verbrechen) (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 33)