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due to their principles to consider every step of the
Prussian policy in the Eastern Marches as an excep-
tional measure which was contrary to their theoretical
ideas of liberty. It is quite true that our home poli-
tics were not made easier by our national policy in the
Eastern Marches, that a new cause of trouble and
excitement was thereby added, and that the propa-
ganda among the Poles in Prussia for the re-estab-

Prussia's Task 313

lishment of Polish independence grew more general
and more violent.

The opponents of Prussian policy in the Eastern
Marches, Germans as well as Poles, are fond of em-
ploying the argument that great unrest has been
caused by this national policy, begun by Bismarck
himself and carried on subsequently in accordance
with his ideas. Such an argument can only bear upon
the general political shell and not on the core of our
national problem as regards the Poles. It means
nothing more than the easy and cheap platitude, that
in foreign as well as in home politics, peace and
tranquillity may always be had if we strive to reach
no goal which can only be attained with difficulty and
by fighting. Such tranquillity is always pretty easy
to get in politics.

The problem of our policy in the Eastern Marches
is this: Shall we permit, shall we, by our inactivity,
encourage the Eastern domains, i.e. Posen, West
Prussia and certain parts of Upper Silesia and East
Prussia, to slip once more from the grasp of German
nationality, or not? Everyone who has national Ger-
man feelings will answer that this must never happen,
that it is the duty and the right of the Germans to
maintain our national ownership in the East of Prus-

314 Imperial Germany

sia, and, if possible, to increase it. The seventy years
between the congress of Vienna and the inauguration
of the Prussian policy of colonisation made it clear
that neither scrupulous respect for Polish nationality,
nor the ignoring of the nationality question in the
East, could in the least prevent German nationality
from being slowly but surely driven out of the East
by that of the Poles. Only a well-thought-out scheme
to further German nationality could prevent the lat-
ter from succumbing utterly. If the differences be-
tween the nationalities were thereby immediately in-
tensified, it was certainly unfortunate, but it could not
be avoided. In political life there are often hard
necessities whose behests we obey with a heavy heart,
but which must be obeyed in spite of sympathies and
emotions. Politics is a rough trade in which senti-
mental souls rarely bring even a simple piece of work
to a successful issue.


With the fundamental Law of Settlement in 1886
Bismarck began the fight for the land on a big scale.
He demanded and received a hundred million marks
for the purpose of buying land and settling German
peasants on it; that is, the purpose of increasing the

The Struggle for the Land 315

numbers of the German element in the Eastern
Marches. The work of colonisation is the backbone
of Prussian policy in the Eastern Marches, for it set-
tles Germans in the Eastern domain. And the whole
problem in those parts is the problem of the relative
numerical strength of the German population as com-
pared with the Poles. The national acquirement of
the eastern parts of Germany was begun by settle-
ment a thousand years ago, and it is only by settle-
ment that national possession can be maintained.
The problem of the Eastern Marches is really not the
least complex. Its solution depends less on political
wisdom than on political courage.

Bismarck set to work vigorously on the basis of the
new law, and during the first five years, from 1886 to
1890, about 46,000 hectares* were acquired from
Polish owners. The beginning of the 'nineties af-
forded a splendid chance to the activities of the Set-
tlement Commission, as an attendant phenomenon of
an otherwise lamentable event. Owing to the plight
of agriculture, the price of land fell rapidly, and it
would have been easy to acquire a huge mass of land
from Polish owners for the purposes of subsequent
colonisation by Germans. But just at that time

* One hectare = 2.47 acres.

3i6 Imperial Germany

Count Caprivi thought it necessary, for parliamentary
reasons, to propitiate the Poles. Concessions on the
questions of schools and church were followed by as-
sistance for the Polish Land Bank; that was equiva-
lent to the rescue of the Polish landowners from
whom the Settlement Commission had to endeavour
to acquire land. The immediate and desired parlia-
mentary object was in so far attained, that the Polish
faction voted for the Army Bill of 1893.

But it soon became evident that the attitude of
the parliamentary faction, as is often the case, did not
correspond to the opinions of the party in the country.
On the occasion of the discussion of the Navy Bill,
the majority of the faction refused to follow their
leader, Koscielski. Herr von Koscielski himself
made that incautious speech at Lemberg in 1894,
which contributed in a considerable degree to the
change in Prussian policy in the Eastern Marches to
the course laid down by Bismarck. At that time, in
September, 1894, the German Association of the
Eastern IMarches was formed, after Germans from
that district had visited the old Imperial Chancellor
in Varzin and paid him homage.

The traditions of Bismarck found a prudent inter-
preter in Miquel after the retirement of Caprivi.

The Struggle for the Land 317

New funds were placed at the disposal of the Settle-
ment Commission in 1898, and land was once more
acquired on a larger scale. But the words of the poet,
"Eternity will not bring back what one has refused
to accept from a moment," again proved true in the
case of our policy in the Eastern Marches. The fa-
vourable opportunity in the estate market, which had
been allowed to slip at the beginning of the 'nineties,
was past. The Polish landowners had been helped
over the critical time; the Poles had had the chance
of organising themselves for the battle for the land;
whereas from 1886 to 1888 on an average 11,000 hec-
tares were acquired yearly from the Poles by the Set-
tlement Commission, it was only possible to buy from
the Poles 911 hectares in 1895, 1804 hectares in
1896, and an average of 2,500 hectares yearly from
1897 to 1899. The land required for purposes of
settlement had to be furnished more and more by Ger-
man landowners.

The energy with which the Poles organised their
resistance to the German attack on their soil deserves
admiration. German activity in colonisation was re-
plied to by Polish counter activity. The Poles, for
their part, divided their estates into small lots, for
which they found colonists to a great extent among

3i8 Imperial Germany

the very numerous Polish industrial workmen in the
West. While the Poles thought it shameful to sell
land to the Germans, these latter unfortunately often
did not object to selling German landed property to
the Poles for a high price. I certainly succeeded,
after replenishing the Settlement Fund in the year
1902, in furthering the work of colonisation to a very
appreciable extent. Land for the purpose of settle-
ment was acquired as follows: 22,007 hectares in the
year 1902; 42,052 hectares in 1903; 33,108 hectares in
1904; 34,661 hectares in 1905; 29,671 hectares in
1906; and after a grant of fresh funds in 1908, 14,093
hectares in that year; 21,093 hectares in 1909.

But it grew more and more difficult to acquire
estates from Polish landowners, as the Poles held fast
to their land, and the activities of the Settlement
Commission on the one hand, and the Polish policy of
parcelling out their properties on the other, resulted
in land speculation which sent up the price of estates
enormously. If the work of colonisation, undertaken
at such sacrifice and at the cost of such a hard strug-
gle, was not to be doomed to ultimate failure, an idea
had to be put into practice which Bismarck had ex-
pressed already in 1886, and which was discussed over
and over again subsequently: the idea of disposses-

The Struggle for German Culture 319

sion. The Dispossession Bill was the logical conclu-
sion of the policy of colonisation begun in 1886; it
makes the Settlement Commission independent of the
variations of the estate market, and ensures ultimate
mastery to a strong Government in thq economic
struggle for the land.


The struggle for the land, which in its essentials is
a struggle to permeate the eastern districts with a
sufficient number of Germans, will always be the
Alpha and Omega of our national German policy in
the East. This must be supported by the struggle
for German culture and education, and, above all, for
the German language. We certainly do not wish to
deprive the Pole of his mother tongue, but we must
try to bring it to pass that, by means of the German
language, he comes to understand the German spirit.
In our policy of settlement we fight for German na-
tionality in the East; in our policy with regard to the.
schools wq are really fighting for Polish nationality
which we wish to incorporate in German intellectual
life. Here, again, we cannot proceed without sever-
ity, and this will increase or be mitigated as the Poles
increase or diminish their opposition. The founda-

320 Imperial Germany

tion of the German Technical Hochschule, or College,
in the year 1904, and before that, of the Imperial
Academy in Posen, in 1903, created, in the eastern
districts, centres of German intellectual life which, let
us hope, will gradually prove their powers of attract-
ing students.


Prussian policy in the Eastern Marches has never
lacked violent critics, especially on the German side.
The seemingly conclusive argument of these critics
is the statement that our policy in the Eastern
Marches has led to no palpable results, since after
nearly twenty years of the policy of colonisation there
is no appreciable change in the percentage of Ger-
mans and Poles in the population of the Eastern
Marches. As an increase in the percentage of Ger-
mans was what Bismarck aimed at, our policy and, in
particular, the work of colonisation must be consid-
ered to have failed. It is quite true that we have not
nearly reached the goal of our policy in the Eastern
Marches. Only if we pursue the course laid down by
Frederick the Great, and later again adopted by Bis-
marck, not with small-minded chicanery, nor with

The Results of the Policy 321

clumsy brutality, but with determination, and, above
all, consistently, can we hope, after a very considera-
ble lapse of time, to fulfil our national task in the East
of Germany.

What we need most of all in our Eastern Marches
is steadfastness. When I was visiting Posen in 1902,
the head of the Provincial Administration, v. Staudy,
for many years a Conservative member of the Reichs-
tag, with whom I was staying, said to me at the con-
clusion of a long conversation about affairs in the
Eastern Marches: "And now one thing more: stead-
fastness! That is what everything depends on here.
Nothing has done us so much harm as our vacillation,
the fact that we gave in again and again. Now we
must hold out I"

The work of German colonisation in the Eastern
Marches, begun a thousand years ago, suspended for
four centuries, and taken up anew less than thirty
years ago, cannot be completed in a short time. This
is not like an ordinary political action, which is soon
followed by success or failure; we are in the midst of
a great historical evolution in which generation after
generation will have to co-operate. If from this
mighty point of view we regard our national work in
the East as a stage of evolution, then we may say

322 Imperial Germany

that success has not been denied us. In the years
from 1886 to 1911, 394,398 hectares of land were
acquired by the Government to provide for the settle-
ment of German peasants; of these 112,116 hectares
were formerly owned by Poles. On the settlement
estates there are 150,000 Germans; 450 new villages
have been built, and in 300 villages the number of
Germans has been increased. The successes due to
our policy of colonisation were convincingly stated by
one of the most estimable statesmen of our time,
Count Botho Eulenburg, in 1908, in the debate in the
Upper Chamber on the Bill of Dispossession. As
the last census shows, the decrease of the Germans as
compared with the Poles has ceased, in spite of the
higher birth-rate among the latter. These are results
of palpable value, these are the first steady steps to-
wards the still distant goal, which, however, can be
attained, if we do not tire of tliis troublesome struggle
entailing so many sacrifices, and if transitory phases
of practical politics do not again sweep the great and
permanent demands of national policy into the back-

We must also not deceive ourselves on the point
that the German, in a struggle between nationalities,
does not yet always possess the desirable power of re-

The Results of the Policy 323

sistance, and that only too often he runs the risk in
such a struggle of losing his nationality, if the State
does not protect and support him. One of the chief
difficulties of the problem in the Eastern Marches,
and at the same time perhaps the strongest proof of
the absolute necessity of a steadfast and strong policy
there, lies in the need to strengthen the backbone of
the German who, for reasons connected with our good
and with our less good qualities, is so prone to be as-
similated. £0 far as this is concerned, the Govern-
ment must take things as they are. It is its duty to
see that the Germans and their nationality do not
succumb in the East.

However, the answer to the question as to what the
state of affairs in the East of Germany would have
been, had nothing been done for the protection and
strengthening of German nationality there, affords a
far better means of judging what has been accom-
plished than does an enumeration of positive achieve-
ments. Before we can think of making national con-
quests in the East, our national possessions had to be
protected from loss. And we succeeded in so doing
because we fought for them. The development which
Bismarck thwarted was tending slowly but surely to
make the Eastern domain Polish. To have warded

324 Imperial Germany

off a danger which threatened, is often in politics
a greater success than to achieve a momentary ad-

If the attempt to extend Polish nationality had not
been met by the Government with a determined effort
to extend German nationality, things in Posen and
West Prussia to-day would have been much the same
as in Galicia. It is quite comprehensible that the
Austrian monarchy, which is not a State based on a
foundation of one nationality, has, for reasons of home
and foreign policy, renounced all further attempts to
Germanise the Crown land of Galicia since the 'seven-
ties, and has responded in the most lavish manner to
Polish wishes. Prussia is the support of the German
Empire and of the national idea, is the German
national State, Ttaz i^o^v, and cannot grant such
concessions without being false to her past, her tradi-
tions, and her German mission.

Prussia must be ruled and administered from the
national German standpoint. If we had allowed the
Slavonic element in the East of the Prussian King-
dom to extend and flood the German element, as has
happened in part of Cisleithania, instead of having a
hard fight for German nationality in the Eastern

The Policy a National Duty 325

Marches to-day, we should have had a fight to main-
tain the unity of the Prussian State; we should not
have had a Polish problem, we should have had a
Polish danger.


Our policy in the Eastern Marches is a national
duty which the German nation owes to itself. A
highly cultured and strong nation may not, without a
struggle, give up national possessions, once they have
been acquired; it must have such belief in the power
of its national culture, and such faith in its own
strength, that it feels itself capable of, and justified
in, enriching them. Whether we hold fast to our pos-
sessions in the East or not, whether our policy in the
Eastern Marches continues in its national course,
what is to become of our Eastern Marches — these are
not questions of party politics, but of general national
importance ; and not only the fate of the Germans in
the East of Prussia, but the future of Prussia and
of the Empire, nay, of the whole German nation,
depend on whether these questions are answered in
the affirmative or in the negative. In my opinion, as

3^6 Imperial Germany

I said in January, 1902, the problem of the Eastern
Marches is not only one of our most important po-
litical problems, but, what is more, it is the problem
on the solution and development of which the immedi-
ate future of our country depends.



The German Empire, such as it emerged from the
baptism of fii-e of Koniggi'atz and Sedan, the be-
lated fruit of the slow evolution of our nation, could
not come into existence until German intellect and
the Prussian monarchy joined forces. They were
bound to join forces if a united German State of last-
ing power was to be acliieved. German history,
eventful as it is, discloses an abundance of great and
mighty deeds: the struggle of the German Emperors
for the heritage of the Ceesars, German arms victori-
ous on the shores of the Great Belt and the Mediter-
ranean, in Asia Minor, and in the heart of what is now
France; and after the intellectual refining process of
the Reformation, the greatest development of artistic
and scientific life that the world has known since the
days of Hellas and the Cinquecento. But the result,
as far as the State and politics are concerned, was the
dissolution of all forms of government in the nine-
teenth century, and the fact that German power was
outstripped by the younger States of Eastern and
Western Europe. In a thousand years of work,


330 Imperial Germany

from the point of view of culture, the highest had been
accomplished, but politically, nothing had been
achieved. The Western and Southern domains of
Germany, greatly favoured by Nature, accomplished
indestructible work in the sj^here of German intel-
lectual life, but could not raise sufficient strength for
the sterner business of creating a State. We modern
Germans do not share Treitschke's harsh opinion that
the smaU German States were worthless. During
the decades in which we have enjoyed union as an
Empire, we have recovered a clear perception of the
manifold blessings we owe to the small States. Side
by side with the sins of German separatism we must
place the encouragement and protection afforded to
the intellectual life of Germany by the Princes and
the cities. The Court of the Muses at Weimar
achieved the highest in this respect, but it by no means
stood alone.

The history of most of the non-Prussian States is
connected with the name of some one or other of the
men of Science and of Art who have helped to raise
the magnificent edifice of our intellectual life. When
Prussia woke to a consciousness of her duties with
regard to the spiritual achievements of Germany, in
those terrible but yet splendid years when, as Fred-

Conclusion 331

erick William III. so well expressed it, the Prussian
State must make good by its intellectual powers what
it had lost physically. German intellect had already
reached its zenith without the help of Prussia. Ger-
man intellectual life, which the whole world has
learned to admire, and which even the first Napoleon
respected, is the work of the Southern and Western
German domains, achieved under the protection of
her Princes, small States, and free cities.

But the people who lived on the sandy soil of the
Marches, in the plains east of the Elbe and the Oder,
so scantly favoured by Nature, during the centuries
which witnessed the growth of German culture in
other parts of the country, prepared the future of
Germany as a State in battles and privations under
the rule of heroic and politic Kings.

German intellect was developed in the West and
the South, the German State in Prussia. The Princes
of the West were the patrons of German culture; the
Hohenzollern were the political teachers and task-

It took a long time before the importance of Prus-
sia, in which even Goethe only loved her great King,
was recognised in Germany; before it was realised
that this rude and thoroughly prosaic State of soldiers

332 Imperial Germany

and officials, without many words but with deeds that
were all the greater, was performing a task of enor-
mous importance in the work of German civilisation:
preparing the political culture of the German nation.
Prussia became for Germany what Rome was for the
ancient world. Leopold v. Ranke, intellectually the
most versatile and at the same time the most Prussian
of German historians, says, in his "History of the
World," that it was the task of antiquity to perme-
ate the Greek spirit with the Roman. Classical cul-
ture, in which the intellectual life of Western Europe
is rooted, was preserved by the military and consti-
tutional State of Rome, which gave to the ancient
world its political shape. The Prussian State became
the guardian of German intellectual life, by giving to
the German people a united State and a position on a
level with the great Empires of the world.

Through the foundation of the Empire we acquired
national hfe as a State. In so doing our political
development embarked on a new and a safe course.
But it has not yet reached its goal. Our task, which
has been begun but is by no means yet completed,
must be the unity of our intellectual and political life,
that is the fusion of the Prussian and the German
spirit. Prussian State life and German intellectual

Conclusion 333

life must become reconciled in such a way that both
their growths become intertwined without weakening
each other.

Such a reconciliation has not yet been achieved.
The representative of German intellectual life is still
sometimes inclined to regard the Prussian State as a
hostile power, and the old Prussian at times to regard
the free and untrammelled development of German
intellect as a destructive force. And again and again
in Parliament and in the Press accusations are lev-
elled against Prussia in the name of freedom, and
against the undaunted German intellect in the name
of order.

My late friend, Adolph Wilbrandt, in a pleasing
play, has a scene between an official belonging to the
North German nobility and the daughter of a savant
of the middle classes. At first they repel each other
and quarrel. "I represent the Germany of SchUler,
Goethe and Lessing," says the woman, and the man
replies: "And I represent the Germany of Bismarck,
Bliicher and Moltke." We often hear similar things
from the lips of clever and serious men. Our future
depends on whether, and to what extent, we succeed in
amalgamating German intellect with the Prussian
monarchy, Wilbrandt's play ends with the love and

334 Imperial Germany

marriage of the budding Minister of State and the
charming enthusiast for Friedrich Schiller.

It is quite true that in many cases in non-Prussian
Germany, owing to other political traditions, concep-
tions of State rule and freedom prevail that are fun-
damentally different from those that have sprung
from the soil of Prussian traditions. This distinction
is found, not only in party differences, but in the
parties themselves. In the South of Germany there
is a tendency to slacken the reins of political powers
below, in Prussia a tendency to tighten them from
above. In the former case a conception of political
life more from the intellectual standpoint; in the lat-
ter more from the standpoint of the State. Each of
them is the result of historical growth and is justified
in its peculiarity. The Prussian does wrong if he re-
fuses to see anything but destructive democracy in
the political life of South Germany: the South Ger-
man is equally wrong if he exclaims in horror at the
antiquated politics of Prussian State life.

Progress in political life is a very fluid idea, and in
what direction of political development true progress
will lie is more than all the wise men of the world
can tell. Each State, each nation tries to advance
in its own way and to perfect its political institutions.

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