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to every spot where English power extends. The
English belief in the superiority of their own intel-
lectual, moral, religious, legal and economic hfe is
the vital force in English national policy.

Higher civilisation has always bestowed political
rights. The behef in a real or supposed higher civ-
ilisation has always provoked a claim to rights.
When France, after the Great Revolution, flooded
Europe with her armies, she based her right to con-

294 Imperial Germany

quest on the supposed blessings of Republican free-
dom. She felt herself the bearer of superior politi-
cal culture to other nations, especially the Germans
and Italians. In our country in particular there were
not a few who recognised this right, and were only
cured of their error by the bitter experiences of Na-
poleonic despotism. The civilising mission of the
French Revolution was based on a fundamental mis-
conception of the nature of civilisation in which, com-
pared with religion, morals, law and education, politi-
cal institutions have a subordinate value, and it con-
demned itself by the growing brutality of Napoleonic
rule. But there are civilising missions which are jus-
tified. For instance, those that the Christian Colonial
Powers have to fulfil in Africa at the present time.
Thus Russia is justified as a bearer of higher civilisa-
tion to Asia. And if ever the battle between the
higher and lower civilisation should cease in the
world's history, our belief in the further development
of mankind would lose its foundation. We should
be bereft of a great and ideal hope.


It was a mission of civilisation that in the past led
us Germans across the Elbe and the Oder towards the

Colonisation in the East of Germany 295

East. The work of colonisation in the east of Ger-
many, which, begun nearly a thousand years ago, is
not yet concluded to-day, is not only the greatest but
the only one in which we Germans have succeeded.
Never in the history of the world was less blood spilt
or less violence used in colonising on such a large
scale as this. This is particularly true of German
colonisation in what was formerly Poland. For cen-
turies the German colonists, often summoned to the
country by its kings, lived as loyal Polish subjects
and taught the Poles higher civilisation. Even those
times, when the Germans were oppressed in Poland
and often deprived of their rights, tell no story of
German revolt there. When the Poles proved them-
selves unfit to maintain government, and the strong
Prussian State with its law and order assumed con-
trol of parts which had formerly belonged to the do-
main of Poland, the work of German civilisation had
been going on in these parts for centuries already.
The rare case supervened that the establishment of
State rule followed and did not precede the tasks of
colonising and civilising. The annexation by the
Prussian State of our Eastern provinces, Posen and
West Prussia, would not and could not have come to
pass if the Polish Republic of Nobles had been a

296 Imperial Germany

State capable of continued existence. When the in-
corporation in the German dominion of the Prussian
State took place, its effect was that of a belated, politi-
cal requisition of rights which the German inliabitants
of West Prussia and Posen had created long before
by their civilising achievements. Quite apart from
the fact that if Prussia had not placed the Germans
in Poland under German rule, they would have fallen
under the dominion of Russia.

Our eastern provinces are our German new coun-
try. Although they were incorporated several gen-
erations earlier than Alsace-Lorraine and Schleswig-
Holstein, yet they are younger national acquisitions.
For one thing, in the West it is only old German do-
main that has been recovered, possessions where the
German Emperors held undisputed sway, before ever
a German had crossed swords with a Wend east of
the Elbe, or a German plough had furrowed Wendic
soil. This new land in the East, entered by right of
conquest at the time when Germany's Imperial power
was at its zenith, had to afford us compensation, from
the point of view of the State and above all of the na-
tion, for losses of old possessions in the West.
"There was a time," I said in January, 1902, in the
Prussian Chamber of Deputies, "when one had to

Colonisation in the East of Germany 297

speak with bated breath of the Holy German Empire,
when the German Empire extended farther in the
South and West than now. We do not dream of
wishing that those times would return; we do not
dream of extending our frontiers in any direction
whatever. But what Providence has granted us
as a compensation for our losses elsewhere, our
possessions in the East, those we must and will

Considered from a distance, the German movement
from east to west, and then again to the east, appears
as a uniform whole. In the seventh century we Ger-
mans abandoned all land east of the Elbe and pene-
trated far into the West, into the heart of France.
Holland, Flanders, Brabant, Burgundy, Luxemburg
and Switzerland were under the sway of the German
Empire, were in part national German land. In the
fourteenth century the upper course of the Rhone
was the boundary of the German Empire. But these
domains were lost, pohtically owing to the downfall
of German Imperial power, nationally because our
body as a nation was really not big enough to fill the
wide garment of the Holy Empire. No sensible man
will ever entertain the idea of recovering either na-
tional or political influence over the lands in the South

298 Imperial Germany

and West which were lost so many centuries ago. At
the time when we were losing ground in the West we
had already found compensation in the East; the
Germans were already streaming back into their old
Germanic home which had been abandoned at the time
of the so-called Volkerwanderung (migration of the
nations), and into which Slavonic tribes had made
their way. And the German colonists who settled
east of the Elbe, beyond the Oder, on the banks of
the Vistula and the Pregel, came from the Western
territories ; not a few from the very domains which we
lost later on. It may well be said that a wave of the
German nation flowed back again.

The great work of Eastern colonisation is the best
and most permanent result of our brilliant history
during the Middle Ages, a piece of work performed,
not by a single German tribe, but by all of them to-
gether. One and all — Saxons, Franks, Bavarians,
Suabians, Thuringians, Lorrainese, Flemish and
Frisians — sent men of their tribe to the East of Ger-
many — laymen and churchmen, knights and peasants.
The new colony east of the Elbe at that time served
to bridge the differences between the German tribes,
which in some cases were very profound. It was
common German land, with a population which has

Colonisation in the East of Germany 299

nothing and wished to be nothing but German, in
contradistinction to the Wends and the Poles.

If, later on, it was the men from this mother-
country of the Brandenburg-Prussian monarchy east
of the Elbe, who in the hour of need manifested their
will as Germans against the foreigner, if in our times
it was by their means that under the black-and-white
banner of the State of the German Order of Knight-
hood the union of the German lands and German peo-
ples in one Empire was realised, the first seeds were
sown by the formation and settlement of these Ger-
man colonies. For what they gave to the less hos-
pitable East in the Middle Ages, the German tribes
of the West and the South were repaid a thousand-
fold by the East when Prussia brought State union
to the whole of Germany.

The centuries of the Ottos, the Salic kings and the
HohenstaufFens can show deeds and events of more
dazzling brilliancy than the brave and diligent colo-
nisation of the land east of the Elbe, but they can show
nothing greater. The conquest of the old Prussian
land by the German Order of Knighthood was but a
pale reflection of the romantic glamour of the cru-
sades and the expeditions to Rome. And the tough
work of civilisation carried on by the monks in the

300 Imperial Germany

eastern forests and marshes, and by the German citi-
zens in the new and growing towns of the east, ap-
pears utterly prosaic and humdrum in comparison
with the grand but unfortunate ventures of the world-
policy of the old emperors. But, as so often in his-
tory, the brilliant acliievements that drew all eyes,
were for the moment only, soon to disappear; while
the insignificant events wliich were accomplished on
what was comparatively a side track of German his-
tory were the real things that were to be of value sub-
sequently. To-day we think with more gratitute of
the German Order of Knighthood that gave Prussia
to us, of the Guelphs who won Holstein and Mecklen-
burg for us, and of the Ascanians of Brandenburg,
than of the victories in Italy and Palestine. The most
portentous national disaster was not the sad down-
fall of the HohenstaufFens owing to the intrigues
of Papal and French policy, but the defeat of Tan-
nenberg, which resulted in the loss of a large portion
of the colonisation work of centuries, and the cession
to the Poles of West Prussia and Danzig, and which
put an end to the proud independence of the State of
the German Order of Knighthood.

It was the wise statesmanship of the Hohenzollern
electors that prevented our national possessions in the

Colonisation in the East of Germany 301

extreme east from slipping completely out of our
grasp, and that here in the eastern outposts of Ger-
many combined the interests of the German nation
as a whole with those of the State of Brandenburg-
Prussia. It may be questioned whether, had it not
been for the black day of Tannenberg, the State of
the Order of Knighthood would have been able to
keep the East permanently German, in defiance of the
superior power of Poland. There is no question but
that we should have lost East and West Prussia for
ever, as w^e had lost our western and southern do-
mains in former times, if the House of HohenzoUern
had not arisen as a tireless and cautious, but brave
and determined, warden of the German Marches.
The Great Elector asserted his rights to East Prus-
sia — rights acquired by a clever family policy — at the
point of the sword, when he bore the Red Eagle of
Brandenburg to victory over the White Eagle of the
King of Poland at the battle of Warsaw, and thus
broke the bonds of Polish suzerainty. Very wisely
the first King called himself King in Prussia, and
thereby indicated the hope that his successors would
be Kings of Prussia by ultimately acquiring West
Prussia as well. And this hope was fulfilled when the
Great King received West Prussia, at the first parti-

302 Imperial Germany

tion of Poland, as the prize of victory in the Seven
Years' War, as Frederick the Great's biographer,
Reinhold Koser, so well expressed it. Only to the
victor of Rossbach, Leuthen and Zorndorf did the
Empress Catherine grant a share of Polish land that
had ceased to have any right to existence as a State
since the Republic of Xobility had been in a condi-
tion of anarchy.

West PiTissia was regarded, not as newly acquired
foreign land, but as German land that had been re-
covered; and rightly so. For this country had be-
come German, politically speaking, under the rule of
the Order of Knighthood, and it had become
German owing to the work of German settlers in
town and country. But Prussia, besides giving back
to the West Prussian Germans German rule and
the glorious right to be German citizens of a German
State, gave to her new PoMsh subjects freedom and

King Stanislaus Leszczinski had lamented his
country as the only one in which the mass of the peo-
ple lacked all the rights of mankind. The mild yet
stern, free yet limited, and just rule of the great
Pi-ussian Eng conferred on the Polish poj^ulation
what it had lacked before. "The surest means of giv-

Colonisation in the East of Germany 303

ing this oppressed nation better ideas and morals will
always be gradually to get them to intermarry with
Germans, even if at first it is only two or three of
them in every village," wrote Frederick the Great
before the year of partition, 1772. Before a single
foot of Polish land had come into the possession of
the Germans the Great King, at a time when the na-
tionality problem was still unknown, characterised
Pi-ussia's future task of civilisation as a Germanisa-
tion. Immediately after taking possession, he began
the work of colonising, and sought and found settlers
throughout Germany. The King, too, only contin-
ued what had been begun in the Middle Ages, the
national conquest of the East of Germany, by means
of settling German farmers in the country and Ger-
man artisans, merchants and tradesmen in the towns.
And when, in 1886, Bismarck proceeded to his policy
of settlement on a larger scale, as in so many of his
greatest national enterprises, he merely seized the
reins that the Great King had held, and that had
dragged along the ground since his death. A proof,
amongst many others, how uniform is the national
history of a people, and that from the national point
of view there are not two possibilities of equal validity,
but only one with a validity of its own.

304 Imperial Germany

Though it is true that in different circumstances
we must not slavishly imitate the great models of the
past, yet it is equally true that the great points of
view by which our ablest men have been guided, main-
tain their worth for all times and on all occasions,
and that they cannot be disregarded with impunity.

It is well known that of the huge addition of quon-
dam Polish land which fell to Prussia's share at the
second and third partitions of Poland, but little was
left to her at the reconstitution in 1815 — West Prus-
sia and the present province of Posen, altogether not
more than seven and a half per cent, of the old king-
dom of Poland. Even though the province of Posen,
with its Archbishopric dating from the year 1000, had
become the heart of the Polish kingdom, yet in the
course of centuries it had become that part of the
great domain which was most strongly permeated
with German elements. By incorporating this old-
established German population in the eastern districts
Prussia undertook a national German dutj% in addi-
tion to her natural duties as a State towards the Poles
who live within her borders and have become Prus-
sian subjects.

Although the Poles have forfeited their right to
independence, after being for centuries incapable of

Colonisation in the East of Germany 305

creating a strong State on the basis of law and order,
none may shut their eyes to the tragic fate of this
gifted and brave nation. Just as it is wrong in the
necessary fight against the Social Democrats to hurt
the feelings of the working classes, so it is wrong in
the fight dictated by reasons of State against the
propaganda for the re-establishment of a greater Po-
land, to hurt our Polish fellow-citizens who fought so
bravely under the Prussian standards in the wars of
1866 and 1870. Because we prize our own national-
ity so highly we must respect the Pole and sympathise
with the loyalty with which he clings to his national
memories. But this respect and sympathy stop short
of the point where the desire and ambition of the
aforesaid propaganda begin, these being to jeopardise
the Prussian monarchy and to attack its unity and
solidarity. No consideration for the Polish people
must hinder us from doing all we can to maintain and
strengthen German nationality in the former Polish
domains. Nobody dreams of wishing to thrust our
Poles outside the borders of the Prussian Kingdom.
Even the German opponents of a vigorous policy in
the Eastern Marches admit how greatly the condition
of the Poles has improved under Prussian adminis-
tration ; the Poles themselves cannot seriously deny it.

3o6 Imperial Germany

But it is the duty and the right of the Prussian Gov-
ernment to see that the Germans do not get driven out
of the East of Germany by the Poles.

Nothing is further from the aims of our policy in
the Eastern Marches than a fight against the Poles;
its object is to protect, maintain and strengthen the
German nationality among the Poles, consequently it
is a fight for German nationality. This struggle,
carried on with varying success and by various means,
runs through the period of very nearly a century
which has passed since the delimitation at the congress
of Vienna of the boundaries of the re-established Prus-
sian State. The task of solving this problem would
probably have been easier for the Prussians and for
the Poles if the artificial and untenable Grand Duchy
of Warsaw, created by Napoleon, had not roused in
the Poles the vain hope that in the course of European
complications it might be possible to re-establish Pol-
ish independence. The Poles would very likely have
been spared painful experiences on our side as well as
on the other side of the frontier in 1830, 1848 and
1863, if the memory of the ephemeral creation of a
State by the first Napoleon had not lived in their
hearts. The thought that the partition of the Polish
Republic among the Eastern Powers from 1793 to

Prussia's Task 307

1807 had only been temporary, naturally made it
harder for the Poles, after the fall of Napoleon and
the States he had founded to serve the military aims
of France, to regard the accomplished facts as final.

Prussia's task.

The task Prussia had to fulfil in the domain, for-
merly Polish, that she had recovered in 1815 and that
had been in her possession since 1772, was obvious
enough. On the one hand, she had to oppose the
propaganda for the re-establishment of Polish inde-
pendence in a determined manner; on the other hand,
she had to lavish great care on the maintenance and
furtherance of German nationality in the eastern
provinces. These two duties each involved the other,
in so far as the national hopes of the Poles must lose
ground in proportion as a strong contingent of Ger-
mans settled in the eastern provinces counterbal-
anced it.

If, at the beginning, after the War of Liberation,
this task had been as clearly recognised and as firmly
attacked as by Frederick the Great, the Prussian
Government would not repeatedly in the course of
temporary moods, which were misunderstood, have
allowed itself to be diverted from the path so clearly

3o8 Imperial Germany

indicated, and we should certainly have been consid-
erably further on the road to the solution of our prob-
lem in the Eastern Marches. It has happened so
often in politics that mistakes were made, not because
with quick decision the obvious thing was done, but
because, owing to sentiment and doubts, a clear and
absolute decision could not be arrived at.

Even in politics the simplest thing, if not always,
yet mostly is the best.

The expressions, "Conciliation Policy" and "Policy
of Intrigue," with which the political opponents and
supporters of a definite national policy in the Eastern,
Marches favour each other, characterise the various
phases of our Prussian policy in Poland very super-
ficially. The aim of Prussian policy in the Eastern
]\Iarches has always been to reconcile subjects of Pol-
ish nationality to the Prussian State and the German
nation. There can be no doubt except as to the
different means by which this reconciliation is to be
attained. There has never been a question of any-
thing else, whether it was Zerboni, the advisers of
Frederick William IV., and Caprivi, or Flottwell,
Grolmann, Bismarck, Miquel and I, myself, who
determined the character of the policy in the Eastern

Prussia's Task 309

This policy must ultimately reconcile our Polish
fellow-countrymen to the fact that they belong to the
Prussian State and to the German Empire. Only
this must not be achieved at the expense of our owner-
ship in the East, or of the unity and sovereignty of
the Prussian State.

It has rarely happened that a State has adopted
such an unprejudiced and good-natured attitude to-
wards members of another nationality living within its
borders as Prussia adopted towards the Poles in the
second and third decades of the nineteenth century.
The blessings of the Stein-Hardenberg reforms were
conferred on the Poles in full measure; an agricul-
tural Loan Society helped Polish agriculture, which
was in a terrible plight after the wars; a Provincial
Diet in Posen ensured that local Polish interests
should be represented ; the members might be elected,
and the people elected Poles; a Polish governor was
associated with a Prussian president. The result was
the revolt of 1830. Prussia had not only vainly
striven to win the favour of the Poles. She had done
more; for the sake of the Poles in the Eastern
^Marches she had forgotten to care for the Germans
there, in that she had placed this German and Polish
district under a purely Polish administration.

310 Imperial Germany

The men who worked in Posen from 1830-40, the
President v. Flottwell and General v. Grolmann, be-
thought themselves once more of Prussia's duty in the
East to men of Genman nationality. The second
phase of our policy in the Eastern Marches began,
which resumed the thread of the national traditions of
the INIiddle Ages of the policy of the Great King, and
which indicated the course of policy in the Eastern
JNIarches to Bismarck and to me. The Polish Gov-
ernor disappeared ; by means of the suspension of elec-
tions for the Diet it became possible to appoint Ger-
man officials, and, as far as the slender means of the
Government permitted, a modest beginning was made
to settle German landowners in the Eastern IMarches.
The policy of Flottwell was no more hostile to the
Poles than was our later policy in the Eastern
Marches, which continued on the lines he had laid
down. In contradistinction to the unsuccessful pol-
icy of 1815-30, its only aim was to assist German
nationality to its rights among the Poles, remember-
ing the duties to Germans that Prussia had taken over
when it gained possession of the old domain of the
Colonists. In fact the Poles were deprived, not of
their rights as citizens, but of privileges.

The attempt to reconcile the Poles to Prussian

Prussia's Task 311

government by granting them special rights was re-
peated in the decade following the transfer of Flott-
well from Posen to Magdeburg, which took place in
1840; the culminating point was the so-called "na-
tional reorganisation" of Posen, which came to noth-
ing. The "reorganisation" was to be effected in the
following way: the Eastern and more Polish part
of the province of Posen was to be separated from the
Western and more German part, and to be adminis-
tered entirely by the Poles. The Poles demanded
complete autonomy in the whole province, like that
which Himgary now possesses in the Habsburg mon-
archy. The Germans in the province grew violently
excited at the threatened loss of their nationality.
The result of this unliappy attempt was a feeling of
hostihty hitherto unknown between the two nation-
alities in the East.

After a long period in the 'sixties and 'seventies,
taken up with the work of founding and consolidating
the Empire, which resulted in indifference to the
struggle betw^een the nationalities in the East, Bis-
marck in 1886 inaugurated his national policy in the
Eastern Marches on a large scale, after he had intro-
duced State control of the schools in Posen in 1872,
and in 1873 the German language as that which was

312 Imperial Germany

to be used for instruction. The period of Flott-
welFs administration could be nothing but a correc-
tion in the national sense of the policy in the Eastern
IVIarches. With Bismarck there began a determined
fight for German nationality. Up till then the policy
had been defensive, but, under Bismarck, Prussia
began to take the offensive in order to rescue German
nationality in the East, to maintain it and, if possi-
ble, to strengthen it. It is natural that the Poles
were thrown into a state of violent excitement, that
they prepared to defend themselves, and with their
splendid organisation, largely supported by the Pol-
ish clergy, plunged into the fray. The antagonism
between the two nationalities grew more acute. The
policy pursued in the Eastern Marches influenced
the whole of party politics, for the Centre supported
its Polish co-religionists, and the Radicals thought it

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