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IMPERIAL GERMANY




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BY

PRINCE BERNHARD VON BULOW



TRANSLATED BY

MARIE A. LEWENZ, M.A.



WITH FRONTISPIECE




NEW YORK
1915



Copyright, 1914,
Bt REIMAR HOBBINa



CONTENTS



J)P)I7



LlBRABt



FOREIGN POLICY



HOME POLICY;

I. Introduction ..... 127

II. National Views and the Parties . . 163

III. Economic Policy .... 248

rV. The Eastern Marches . . . 290



CONCLUSION ,



329



FOREIGN POLICY



IMPERIAL GERMANY

FOREIGN POLICY

"In spite of the length of their history, the German peo-
ple is the youngest of the great nations of Western Europe.
A period of youth has twice fallen to their lot, and with it
the struggle to establish their power as a State, and to gain
freedom for civilisation. A thousand years ago they
founded the proudest empire of the Germans; eight hun-
dred years later they had to build up their State anew on
quite different foundations, and it is only in our times that,
as a united people, they entered the ranks of the nations."

These words, with which Treitschke begins his
"German History," not only show deep historical
knowledge, but also have a very modern political sig-
nificance. Germany is the youngest of the Great
Powers of Europe, the homo novus who, having
sprung up very recently, has forced his way by his
superior capacity into the circle of the older nations.
The new Great Power was formidable after three
glorious and successful campaigns, and was looked
upon as an uninvited and unwelcome intruder, when
it entered the company of the Great Powers of Eu-
rope and demanded its share of the treasures of the

3



4 Imperial Germany

world. For centuries Europe had not believed in
the possibility of the national unification of the indi-
vidual German territories as one State. At any rate
the European Powers had done their best to prevent
this. In particular the policy of France, from the
time of Richelieu to that of Napoleon III., was di-
rected towards maintaining and intensifying the dis-
ruption of Germany, as it was rightly recognised
that the ascendancy of France, la preponderance
legitime de la France, depended primarily on this
state of affairs. Nor did the other Powers desire
the unification of Germany. On this point the Em-
peror Nicholas and Lord Palmerston, as well as Met-
ternich and Thiers, were at one. Nothing could
show more clearly the marvellous way in which the
mature wisdom of our old Emperor co-operated with
the genius of Prince Bismarck than the fact that they
effected the unification of Germany, not only in the
face of all the difficulties with which they were con-
fronted at home — long cherished rivalries and ha-
treds, all the sins of our past, and all the peculiarities
of our pohtical character, but also in spite of all op-
position, avowed or secret, and of the displeasure of
the whole of Europe.

Suddenly the German Empire was in existence.



Political Regeneration of Germany 5

More quickly even than had been feared, far stronger
than anyone had guessed. None of the other Great
Powers had desired the regeneration of Germany;
each of them, when it actually took place, would have
liked to prevent it. Small wonder that the new
Great Power was not made welcome, but was looked
upon as a nuisance. Even a very reserved and pa-
cific policy could effect but Kttle change in this fii'st
verdict. This union of the States of the Mid-Euro-
pean continent, so long prevented, so often feared,
and at last accomplished by the force of German
arms and incomparable statesmanship, seemed to im-
ply something of the nature of a threat, or at any
rate to be a disturbing factor.

In the middle of the 'nineties, in Rome, where I
was Ambassador at that time, my English colleague,
Sir Clare Ford, said to me: "How much pleasanter
and easier it was in the world of politics when Eng-
land, France and Russia constituted the tribunal of
Europe, and at most Austria had to be occasionally
consulted." Those good old days are past. More
than forty years ago the council of Europe had to ad-
mit another member entitled to vote, one that had
not only the wish to express its opinion, but also the
power to act.



6 Imperial Germany

POLITICAL REGENERATION OF GERMANY.

A strenuous task in the history of the world had
reached perfection in the masterpiece of Prince Bis-
marck. The unflinching purpose of the Hohenzol-
lern dynasty for centuries required the patient hero-
ism of the Prussian army and the resolute devotion of
the Prussian people, until, after many changes of for-
tune, the Mark of Brandenburg rose to the rank of
a Great Power, as the kingdom of Prussia. Twice
the prize seemed to slip from the grasp of the Prus-
sian State. The crushing defeat of 1806 hurled
Prussia down from the dizzy heights, which had filled
her contemporaries with admiration and fear, and
which she had attained under the rule of the great
Frederick. Those people seemed to be right who
had always considered the glorious State of the great
King to be nothing more than an artificial political
structure, that would stand and fall with the unique
political and military genius of its monarch. Its
rise, after the overwhelming disasters of Jena and
Tilsit, proved to an astonished world what innate
and indestructible strength this State possessed.
Such self-sacrifice and such heroism on the part of a
whole people presuppose long-established national



Political Regeneration of Germany 7

self-confidence. And as the people of Prussia did
not rise in lawless rebellion like the much- admired
Spaniards and the honest T}T*olese peasants, but
placed themselves one and all, unquestioningly, at the
orders of the King and his advisers, it appeared, to
everyone's surprise, that amongst the Prussians con-
sciousness as a nation and as a State were one and the
same thing; and that the people had been transformed
into a nation under the strict discipHne of Freder-
ick's rule. The reorganisation of the State under
the guidance of men of creative power during the
years 1807 to 1813 won for the Government not only
the obedience of its subjects but also their affection.
In the war of liberation from 1813 to 1815 Prussia
gained the respect of all, and the confidence of many
of the non-Prussian Germans. The great period of
upheaval and liberation endowed them with a rich
inheritance. But owing to the reaction of a feeble
and inglorious foreign policy, and to a home admin-
istration which never knew when to be open-handed
and when to refuse, this inheritance was to a large
extent squandered in the course of the following dec-
ades. Towards the end of the 'fifties in the nine-
teenth century, both as regards the dignity of her at-
titude at home and her prestige abroad, Prussia was



8 Imperial Germany

vastly inferior to Prussia as she had emerged from
the Wars of Liberation. True, the national move-
ment in favour of unity had been placed on a solid
foundation by the Prussian tariff policy, but the
conference of Olmiitz shattered the hopes of the Ger-
man patriots who looked to Prussia for the fulfilment
of their wishes as a nation. Prussia seemed to re-
nounce her mission of worldwide importance, and to
relinquish the poHcy, worthy of a Great Power, of
carrying on the work of unification — work that she
had begun with a definite politico-economical object.
Many new forces had certainly been put at the dis-
posal of national life by the reorganisation of the
State on constitutional lines. This State would
have gained immensely, both in internal vitality and
in national striking power, if at the right time this
loyal people had been summoned to take part in
politics, as Stein and Hardenberg, Bliicher and
Gneisenau, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Boy en, and
also Yorck and Biilow-Dennewitz had wished.
When the great step was taken, thirty-three years too
late, the want of confidence between the people and
the authorities was too deeply rooted, the credit of
the government had been too much damaged in the
course of the revolutionary rising, for the modern



Political Regeneration of Germany 9

form of government to bring about an immediate
improvement. The course of Prussian policy was
hampered at home by representatives of the people
who were suspicious and hedged in by various doc-
trines, while it was checked abroad by the hitherto
invincible opposition of Austria with her claims to
ascendancy. Then, summoned at the critical mo-
ment by King William, almost at the eleventh hour,
Bismarck took the tiller of the drifting Prussian
ship of state.

The clear-sighted patriots of those times were well
aware of the fact that in the normal course of his-
torical development the union of German States
under Prussian leadership must come to pass, and
that it was the noblest aim of Prussian statesman-
ship to hasten and to bring about its consummation.
But every road by which an attempt had been made
to reach this end had proved impassable. As time
passed, less and less seemed to be expected from the
initiative of the Prussian Government. All the well-
meant but unpractical efforts to induce the German
people to determine its fate itself failed because of
the absence of impetus from the various Governments
— an impetus which is more decisive in Germany
probably than in any other country. In "Wilhelm



,10 Imperial Germany

Meister," when the melancholy Aurelia finds fault in
many ways with the Germans, Lothario, a man of
experience, replies that there is no better nation than
the Germans, so long as they are rightly guided.
The German, of whatever stock he be, has always
accomplished his greatest works under strong, steady
and firm guidance, and has seldom done well without
such guidance, or in opposition to the Government
and rulers. Bismarck himself has told us in his "Ge-
danken und Erinnerungen" ("Thoughts and Recol-
lections") that he was from the first quite clear on
this point. With the intuition of genius he found
the way in which the hopes of the people and the in-
terests of the German Governments might be recon-
ciled. Probably no other statesman ever had so deep
a knowledge of the history of the nation he was called
upon to guide. He sought and found the motive
forces of national life in the chain of events abroad.
He, who was born in the year of Waterloo, and was
confirmed by Schleiermacher in the Church of the
Trinity in Berlin, never forgot the great times of the
liberation and the rise of Prussia ; at the beginning of
his career as a moulder of the destinies of the world,
the remembrance of these days was always with him.
He realised that in Germany the will-power of the



Political Regeneration of Germany ii

nation would not be strengthened, nor national pas-
sions roused by friction between the Government
and the people, but by the clash of German pride
and sense of honour with the resistance and the de-
mands of foreign nations. So long as the question
of German unification was a problem of home poli-
tics, a problem over which the political parties, and
the Government and the people wrangled, it could
not give birth to a mighty, compelling national move-
ment that would sweep nations and princes alike
along on a tide of enthusiasm. By making it clear
that the German question was essentially a question
of European pohtics, and when, soon after, the op-
ponents of German unification began to move, Bis-
marck gave the princes the opportunity of putting
themselves at the head of the national movement.

Bismarck had had a glimpse in Frankfurt, St.
Petersburg, and Paris, of the cards which the Powers
of Europe held. He had perceived that the unifica-
tion of Germany would continue to be a purely na-
tional question only so long as it remained a vain
wish, a fruitless hope of the Germans; and that it
would become an international question the very
moment it entered on the stage of realisation. A
struggle with the opposition in Europe lay in the



12 Imperial Germany

path of the solution of tlie great problem of German
policy. The opposition in Germany itself could
hardly be overcome except by such a struggle. By
this means national policy was interwoven with inter-
national policy; with incomparable audacity and con-
structive statesmanship, in consummating the work
of uniting Germany, he left out of play the political
capabilities of the Germans, in which they have never
excelled, while he called into action their fighting
powers, which have always been their strongest point.
By a happy dispensation of Providence Bismarck
found a general such as Moltke and a military or-
ganiser such as Boon to support him. The mihtary
achievements which had enabled us to regain our
position as a Great Power in Europe also assured
that position. They discouraged any attempt of the
Great Powers to deprive us of our right to a voice in
the councils of Europe, a right which we had won in
three victorious campaigns, and which has since then
never been seriously disputed, although it was un-
willingly granted. With the single exception of
France, every one, in all probability, would have
gradually become reconciled to Gemiany's political
power if her development had ceased with the found-
ing of the Empire. But the union of the different



Germany as a World Power 13

States was not the end of the history of the move-
ment, but the beginning of a new era. In the front
rank of the Powers, Germany once more participated
in full in the life of Europe. For a long time, how-
ever, the life of Europe had formed only a part of the
life of all the nations of the world.

GERMANY AS A WORLD POWER.

Politics became more and more concerned with the
world at large. The path of international politics
lay open to Germany, too, when she had won a mighty
position on a level with the older Great Powers. The
question was whether we should tread that new path,
or whether we should hesitate to undertake further
hazardous enterprises for fear of compromising our
newly-acquired power. In the Emperor William II.
the nation found a clear-sighted, strong-willed guide,
who led them along the new road. With him we
trod the path of international politics ; but not as con-
querors, not amid adventures and quarrels. We ad-
vanced slowly, and our rate of progress was regu-
lated, not by the impatience of ambition, but by the
interests we had to promote and the rights we had to
assert. We did not plunge into world politics, we
grew, so to speak, into our task in that sphere, and we



14 Imperial Germany

did not exchange the old European policy of Prussia
and Germany for the new world policy ; our strength
to-day is rooted, as it has been since time immemorial,
in the ancient soil of Europe.

"It is the task of our generation at one and the
same time to maintain our position on the Continent,
which is the basis of our international position, and
to foster our interests abroad as well as to pursue a
prudent, sensible and wisely restricted international
policy, in such a way that the safety of the German
people may not be endangered, and that the future
of the nation may not be imperilled." With these
words I attempted on November 14, 1906, towards
the close of a detailed exposition of the international
situation, to foimulate the task which Germany must
perform at the present time, and, as far as man can
judge, wiU have to perform in the future: an inter-
national policy based on the solid foundation of our
position as one of the Great Powers of Europe. At
first voices were raised in protest when we trod the
new paths of international politics, for it was consid-
ered a mistake to depart from the approved ways of
Bismarck's Continental policy. The fact was over-
looked that it was Bismarck himself who pointed out
the new way to us by bringing our old policy to a



Germany as a World Power 15

close. His work, in fact, gave us access to the world
of international politics. Only after the union of
the States, after Germany had attained political vig-
our, it became possible to develop German home pol-
icy into international policy. It was not till the
Empire had secured its position in Europe that it
became feasible to foster the interests which German
enterprise, German industry and commercial fore-
sight had created in all quarters of the globe. It is
certain that Bismarck did not foresee the course of
this new development of Germany, nor the details
of the problems of this new epoch ; and it was not pos-
sible for him to do so. Amongst the rich treasures
of political wisdom that Prince Bismarck bequeathed
to us there are no universally applicable maxims,
such as he formulated for a large number of eventu-
alities in our national life, that we can make use of
in our international problems. We seek in vain in
the conclusions of his practical policy for a justifica-
tion of the steps which our international problems
exact from us. However, Bismarck also paved the
way for these new and different times. We must
never forget that without the gigantic achievements
of Prince Bismarck, who with a mighty effort re-
trieved in the space of years what had been misman-



i6 Imperial Germany

aged and neglected for centuries, this new era would
never have dawned. But though every new epoch
of historical development is dependent on its prede-
cessor, and derives its motive power in a greater or
less degree from the past, it can only bring progress
in its wake if it abandons old methods and aims and
strives to attain others of its own. Even if, in the
course of our new international policy, we depart
from the European policy of the first Chancellor, yet
it still remains true that the international tasks of the
twentieth century are, properly speaking, the con-
tinuation of the work he completed in the field of Con-
tinental policy. In my speech on November 14,
1906, I pointed out that Bismarck's successors
must not imitate but develop his policy. "If," I
said at that time, "the course of events demands that
we transcend the limits of Bismarck's aims, then we
must do so."

Long ago already, the course of events drove Ger-
man policy out from the narrow confines of Europe
into a wider sphere. It was not ambitious restless-
ness which urged us to imitate the Great Powers that
had long ago embarked on international pohtics.
The strength of the nation, rejuvenated by the polit-
ical reorganisation, as it grew, burst the bounds of



Germany as a World Power 17

its old home, and its policy was dictated by new inter-
ests and needs. In proportion as our national life
has become international, the policy of the German
Empire has become international.

In the year 1871 the number of inhabitants dwell-
ing within the new German Empire was 41,058,792.
They found work and a living in their own country,
and, moreover, both were better and easier to get
than before; this was due to the protection afforded
by increased national power, the great improvement
in the means of communication effected at the found-
ing of the Empire, and the blessings of common legis-
lation throughout Germany. In the year 1900 the
number of inhabitants had risen to 56,367,178, and
to-day it has reached more than 65,000,000. The
Empire could no longer support in the old way this
immense mass of humanity within its boundaries.
Owing to this enormous increase of population the
German State, and in consequence German policy,
was confronted with a tremendous economic prob-
lem. This had to be solved, if foreign countries were
not to profit by the superfluity of German life which
the mother country was not able to support. In the
year 1885 about 171,000 Germans emigrated; in 1892
the number was 116,339; in 1898 only 22,921; and



i8 Imperial Germany

since then the average has remained at this last low
figure. Thus in the year 1885 Germany afforded the
inhabitants, who numbered 20,000,000 less than to-
day, inferior conditions of life to those which her 66,-
000,000 subjects enjoy at the present time.

During the same period of time German foreign
trade rose from the amount of 6,000 million marks to
19,160 million. Foreign trade and the means of
support of a nation have an obvious connection with
each other. Clearly not so much on account of the
actual food imported as of the greater opportunities
for work which the industries dependent on foreign
trade afford. It was the development of industry
that primarily led to the solution of the problem with
which, owing to the increase of the population, the
nation was confronted ; and this solution was reached,
moreover, without prejudice to the older spheres of
industry, although these suffered to some extent at
first, on account of the surprising speed with which
the development took place. The enormous increase
in number and extent of the industrial enterprises,
which to-day employ millions of workmen and officials,
could only be attained by winning a prominent place
for German industry in the markets of the world. If
at the present time it was dependent on the raw ma-



Germany as a World Power 19

terial supplied by the Continent for its manufactures,
and on the European market for the sale of its goods,
the gigantic proportions which modern trade has as-
sumed would be out of the question, and millions of
Germans who to-day earn their living directly through
these industries, would be out of work and starv-
ing. According to the statistics, in the year 1911
raw material for industrial purposes was imported
to the amount of 5,393 million, and manufactured
goods to th'j rjnount of 5,460 million marks were
exported. To this must be added an export of
raw material, cliiefly mining produce, to the amount
of 2,205 million. The imports of foodstuffs amount
to 3,077 milHon, and the exports to 1,096 milHon
marks. These lifeless figures assume a living inter-
est when we consider how important they are for the
welfare of the Germans, and that the work and the
very existence of millions of our fellow citizens de-
pend on them. Foreign trade handles these colossal
masses of goods. A very small proportion of them
are transported along the railways and waterways of
the Continent; by far the greater part are carried
abroad by the vessels of German ship-owners. In-
dustry, commerce, and the shipping trade have trans-
formed the old industrial life of Germany into one of



20 Imperial Germany

international industry, and this has also carried the
Empire in political matters beyond the limits which
Prince Bismarck set to German statecraft.

With its foreign trade of 19,000 millions, Germany
is to-day the second greatest commercial power in the
world; for it is second only to the United Kingdom
with her 25,000 millions, and surpasses the United
States with her 15,000 millions. In the year 1910,
11,800 German ships and 11,698 foreign ships entered
the German ports, while 11,962 German and 11,678
foreign ships sailed from them. On an average the
German shipyards built seventy new steamers and
forty new sailing ships a year. With rapid strides
we Germans have won a place in the front rank of the
seafaring nations who carry on oversea trade.

THE NEED OF A NAVY.

The sea has become a factor of more importance
in our national life than ever before in our history,
even in the great days of the German Hansa. It has
become a vital nerve which we must not allow to be
severed if we do not wish to be transformed from a
rising and youthfully vigorous people into a decaying
and ageing one. But we were exposed to this danger
as long as our foreign commerce and oui* mercantile



The Need of a Navy 21

marine lacked national protection at sea against the
superior navies of other powers. The task that the
armed forces of the German Empire had to fulfil
had changed considerably since the protection on the
Continent that our army secured us no longer sufficed
to shield our home industries from interference, en-
croachment and attack. The army needed the sup-
port of a navy that we might enjoy the fruits of our
national labour.

When in the spring of 1864 the English Ambassa-
dor in Berlin drew the attention of the Prussian Pres-
ident of the Council at that time to the excitement in
England caused by Prussia's advance against Den-
mark, and let fall the remark that if Prussia did not
cease operations the English Government might be
forced to take arms against her, Herr von Bismarck-
Schohausen replied: "Well, what harm can you do


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