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Imperial Germany; a critical study of fact and character online

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Showinj; tlie German Con-

iVtknition at the Peace

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Impkrial Germany (illustrated). By Sidney Whit-
man fl.OO

The Social Spirit in America. By Professor

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The required books of the C. L. S. C. are recommended by
a Council of six. It must, hozvever, be understood that
reconimetidation does not involve an approval by the Coun-
cil, or by any member of it, of every principle or doctrine
contained in the book recommended.



Books — things that are born of toil and a nervous
sanguine temperament — have, as a rule, but a short
time to live. Indeed, in proportion to the increase of
the literary output of the world does the life of the
average book — I am assured — shrink from a span of
years into one of a few months only.

In such circumstances it is only natural that a distant
publisher's request to a writer to reedit and bring up
to date a book of his, which has already passed the
Methusalatine age of eight full years, should be a source
of the li\eliest gratification to him and nerve him to do
his best.

Therefore in supervising this latest English editi(Mi of
"Imperial (Germany" I have gladly done all in my
power to correct previous errors and to add here and
there a few pregnant data. Of valued assistance to
me in this work has been a personal memento — the
very copy of "Imperial Germany " which Prince Bis-
marck read and annotated with remarks and corrections
in his own handwriting. Among the latter are several
important historical data, which I have thus been able
to rectif)- in the present editicjii. I have also endeav-
ored to carry the subject up ti> date, as far as I deem
this last course to Itc possible, lor the three most
striking events if I may call them .so -which ha\e
taken place in < '.crmany since the book was lirst writti-n,
I hold to \)v the increase of social democracy, the vast

\\ Preface to the Present Edition.

growth i)f (iernian commercial prosperity, and, lastly,
the rise in the estimate of the historian of the person-
ality o"f Emperor William the First.

In conclusion, 1 may atkl that it has afforded me par-
ticular satisfaction to assist my American publishers
in their spirited intention of illustrating this edition.
For this purpose I haye placed a number of autograph
portraits of eminent Germans — presented to me from
time to time — at their disposal. I trust that these
much-valued tokens of personal friendship, gained in
the exercise of my literary calling, may contribute
somewhat to the interest of the book.

Sidney Whitman,

London, January, iSgj.



Germany is a giant in its cradle, whose growth and develop-
ment will some day astonish the world. — A.J. Miindella, M.P.,

Those whom circumstances have enabled to glean a
more than superficial knowledge of other countries than
their own are often struck by our general apathy toward,
or at least want of touch with, nationalities that have
much in common witli us, not to mention close prox-
imity of geographical position. Even more than this ;
many of us must often have been painfully surprised to
n6te how such want of touch has contributed to warp
the judgment of men far above the average in intellect
and culture, as well as those in responsible political

When I say want of toucli, 1 mean it to apply more
to intellectual than to material matters ; and when I say
ignorance or apathy, I also mean it to appl) more to the
affinities of race and character than to the mere utilita-
rian subjects of every-day life.

I do 111)1 aim to draw attention to the material aspects
of German life, excei)t indirectly and in so far as they
arc the result of something deejier. This something I
endeav<jr to present with its advantages and its draw-
backs -namely, the general character, rthical and
a;sthetical, of the great people to whom we are allied
by ties of blood as well as b\- tradition. Thus, it has
not Ixrii niv aim to writ<- an al! round work on der-

viii Preface to the First London Edition.

many, such as Mr. Escott's comprehensive work on
England, but rather to deal with a few of the leading
characteristics of Germany, which I have observed
closely in the country itself, and which I think likely
to interest Englishmen generally ; and if I only succeed
in inspiring in a few of my readers an increased interest
in the great Teutonic nation whose power, in our day,
is one of the safest guarantees of European peace, I
shall not have written in vain.

Some of the conclusions I have reached may seem, at
first sight, somewhat contradictory, but they will be
seen to depend upon the varying points of view from
w'hich they are regarded. It has been my aim to speak
the truth fearlessly.

Sidney Whitman.

Lotidoti, November /, 1888.



I. The German Character ix Politics . 15

II. Intellectual Life 36

III. Educatioxai • ... 66

IV. The Prussiax Moxarchv 77

\'. Paterxal Governmkxt 102

\'I. Bismarck 129

VII. The .\rmy 158

VIII. The German Aristocracy 191*

IX. Germax Society 211

X. \\'()NL\NKL\1) AXl) F.V.MILV l.IFE .... 22S

XI. Tin; pHH.isriNi; 243

XII. Commerce and Manufacture .... 256

XIII. Thi-: German 1*ri:ss 276

XIV. Summary and Coxclusion 290

Apim.ndlx 307


The German Confederation at the Peace of Vienna, 1815.

(Two-page colored map) Front liniiii^ pages

I-]mperor and Empress of the German Empire . . Frontispiece


The Imperial Palace, Strassburg 17

Building in which the Old German Kings and Roman

Emperors were Crowned, Frankfort-on-the-Main . . 21
The Door of the Wittenberg Church against which Luther

Nailed his Famous Theses 22

The Palace of the Grand-Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin,

Schwerin 28

Hermann von Helmholtz 39

Dr. Robert Koch 40

Prof Wilhelm C. Rontgen 41

Dr. Theodor Mommsen 42

Statue of Goethe, Berlin 43

Heinrich von Sybel 45

Paul Heyse 47

Gustav von Moser 49

The University of Kiinigsberg, where Kant Taught ... 51
The Brandenburg Gate, through which the X'ictorious

Troops entered Berlin in 187 1 57

Richard Wagner 62

Wagner's Theater, Bayreuth 64

Adolf .Menzel 65

The University of Bonn, wlure tlie Present Emperor

Studied 69

The University of Strassburg 7,3

Palace of Emperor William I., Berlin 7S

The New Imperial Palace, Potsdam S2

F,ni|)er<)r William i .S7

iunperor I-rederick 111 93

The Royal Palace at Charlottenberg, where P'mperor

Frederick III. Died 95

l-'.mj)(T()r William II 97


xii Maps and Illustratiom

Emperor William II., his Mother, the Empress Frederick,

his Grandmother, (Jiicen \'ictoria, and Three iMiiilish

Uncles 9S

Grand-Duke of Baden 100

Albert, King of Saxony loi

The Reichstag Building, Berlin 105

The Coronation Hall of the Hohenstaufen Emperors, in

the Town Hall at Aix-la-Chapelle 114

General Post-Oftice, Bremen 122

The New Railway Station, Cologne 123

The Imperial Yacht " Hohenzollern " at Anchor in the

Kaiser Wilhelm Canal 125

Prince Bismarck 131

Princess Bismarck 13S

Prince Bismarck, his Wife, Children, and Grandchildren,

and Lenbach and his Wife 147

Herbert Bismarck 153

A Cavalryman 159

A Prussian Officer 161

Alfred Krupp 164

Officers of the First and Second Cavalry Regiments of the

Prussian Guard 166

The Helmet worn by Bismarck during the War of 1S70 . 168

An Officer of the Hussars, Saxony 171

An Orderly of the Cuirassiers 173

An Officer of the Guard, Prussia 175

Moltke before Paris, in company with his Aides-de-camp . 179

Monument of Victory, Leipzig 181

Count von Moltke 187

Count von Moltke and Friends at his Country-seat, Creisau 189

The Royal Festival Hall, Carlsruhe 196

Neuschwanstein, one of the Castles of the late King Lud-

wig of Ba\aria 202

The National Gallery, Berlin, with I-Yederick's Bridge in

the Foreground 207

The Royal Theater, Wiesbaden 213

Opera House, Frankfort-on-the-Main 219

The Strassburg Cathedral 223

The " Frauenkirche," Dresden, the Finest Protestant

Church in Saxony 226

Maps and Ulusirations. xiii


The Wartburg, where Luther translated the Bible .... 233

Courtyard of the Wartburg 239

Museum and Lustgarten, Berlin 245

" Rheinstein," a Famous Castle on the Rhine 252

The New E.xchange, Konigsberg 25S

The Royal Palace of Saxony, Dresden 262

Mainz Cathedral 266

The Ducal Palace, Brunswick 272

The Fountain of Professor Begas, in front of the Em-
peror's Palace, Berlin 278

The Cathedral of Cologne 285

The Town Hall, Hamburg 289

The Court Theater, Dresden 293

Bridge over the Elbe, Hamburg 299

The Royal Palace and Grounds, Carlsruhe 303

The German Empire 307

The German Empire, 1871. (Two-page colored map)

End linius; p(^gt'S


We Study the Words and the Works
OF God.

Let us keep our Heavenly Father in

the midst.
Never be Discouraged.
Look Up and Lift Up.


Suggested Readings. — Europe hi the Nineteenth Century,
by H. P. Judson, Chaps. V., VI., VIII., XIII., and XXX. ;
The Nineteenth Century, a History' by Robert Mackenzie, Book
III., Chap. III. ; Appendix of this volume, page 307.



Nie war gegen das Ausland

Ein anderes Land gerecht wie Du ;

Sei nicht allzu gerecht ! Sie denken nicht edel genug,

Zu sehn, wie schon Dein Fehler ist.'

— Klopstock.


Eighteen centuries ago Tacitus exclaimed, ' ' May
the Germans, as they cannot love us, at least retain their
hatred of each other, so that, when Rome begins to
totter, she may at least find support in the discord of
that race. ' '

On March 23, 18S7, Bismarck said in the Prussian
Herrcnhaus (House of Lords), "The fierman lives by
quarreling with his countrymen."

The oi)inion held by the Roman historian, coinciding , , , .

' -^ ^ Lack of unity

almost word for wcjrd with that of the greatest German •ini<>nnthc

. . (icrniaiis.

politician of our time, might ucll illustrate the undying
tenacity of popular characteristics, and banish optimistic

1 Ne'er was a people just towards tlie stratiRer as thou art.
Kc not loo jnsl ; tliry think tiol nohly t-nouKh to sec '

How fair thy failing is. ,



Imperial Germany.

I'nreailiiiess a



Tliis trait
illustrated in

Admixture of
Slavonic blood
a benefit.

expectations from the recent constellation of (German

Allied to this traditional inrapaiilN- for united action,
history records a strange unreadiness for acti(jn of any
decisive kind. The French knew this by experience,
and always associated the idea of unreadiness with the
Germans — they were always waiting to be attacked.
Napoleon aptly suggested this in a letter during one of
his campaigns. "Send me biscuits and brandy for
50,000 men ; it is easy enough to beat the Germans, but
not without the biscuits," etc. Ludwig Borne tells us a
German will wear his coat threadbare while making up
his mind whether to have a new button sewn on it.
Their sayings, " Nach und nach " (Little by little),
" Eile mit Weile " (Haste with leisure), reflect this
national idiosyncrasy.

Thus Shakespeare is supposed to have portrayed the
typical German in Hamlet — the philosophizing prince,
who utters the wisest axioms without being able to bring
himself to act upon them.

If this portrayal be true, then an explanation is found
for the fact that the Germans could never help them-
selves until men were found at the head of affairs who
united the idealism of a Hamlet with the hoV\ decision of
an Anglo-Saxon Cromwell.

More than this, the salvation of (jermany had to come
til rough a people that was not purely German by race.
Bismarck himself has stated his conviction that to the
admixture of Slavonic blood in the old Prussian pro\-
inces are due those blind, dog-like, tough qualities of
devotion and obedience that enabled Frederick the
Great to win his famous battles, and thus to lay
the foundation of Prussia's hegemony of to-day. The
inhabitants of the old provinces of Prussia are in unity

The German Character in Politics.


of patriotism and power of recovery more like the
French than those of any other part of Germany.

This material, led by genius, has always done its work
cleanly. It met the Austrians at Leuthen, in the slant- pr^,^°Ji^nhosf.
\x\% batde-line of Epaminondas, 36,000 against 85,000.
It drove the French like hares at Rossbach. The
French never properly realized this, and only remem-
bered Jena, when this same material, defectively organ-

llIK iMrl-.RIAI. I'ai.ack, Strassburg.

ized and led 1)\- hopeless imbecility, went dduii before
the greatest captain of the age. I In Imcik h rt-mem-
bcred the (^"/crmans only as a disunited herd, that
always waitctl to be attacked and never took the offen-
sive. They forget that those days arc gone forever,
since Prussia, who always took the initiative, leads the
van. The defensive is an Austrian speciality ; it is
typical of that brave, but uiueady, indolent nation

An Aiistriiin


Imperial Germany

indolence Z'S.

Prussian virtues

A gradual
change in the

which in 1866, true to its old instincts, gloated over its
cleverness in enticing the Prussians into Bohemia in
order to eat them on arrival.

Formerly, this Austrian characteristic distinguished all
Germany ; to-day, Prussia is striving hard to eradicate
it. Yet even now, wherever Prussia is not directly
administrative, a trace of that delightful little German
quality, procrastination or unreadiness, shows its cloven
foot, not to mention the still older idiosyncrasy of
discord and doctrinarism. This leads us to believe that
if the Prussians had not brought the Germans salvation
they would never have had it, and that without Prus-
sia's guidance they would forfeit it again to-morrow and
let their country once more become the battle-field of

Yet these procrastinating, unready Austrians were
always popular with the masses in the same proportion
as the Prussians were disliked, even in provinces such
as those of the Rhine, which but recently came under
Prussian sway. Only the intellectual few long ago
recognized the superb qualities of honesty, economy,
order, and devotion to duty which everywhere marked
the Prussian administration. Thus the recognition has
been a slow process based on respect, the safest of
foundations. And those who turned their sympathies
to Austria have had time to discover that, in this
instance, the head offered little justification for the lean-
ings of the heart.

It would seem that national characteristics — which,
like all other characteristics, according to Darwin, must
be the result of infinitely long-standing influences — die
hard. Happily, a national character is not composed
of one or even two unfortunate traits, but of many
qualities, some of which neutralize or nullify the work-

The German Character in Politics. 19

ing of others. Thus the Germans, whom only yester-
day we witnessed reddening their fields with blood in
fratricidal strife, we have beheld in our time throng-
ing around the great emperor William in a genuine
outburst of patriotic ideality, ready to call out, ' ' Hail,
Caesar, we, about to die, salute thee ! "

All well-wishers of Germany must hope that this
genuine feeling of patriotism will long form a rallying-
point around which all shall gather who are prepared to
do and die for their country.


It is a peculiar fact, and one that speaks highly for
the intellectual capacities of the race, that, whereas all Germans their
times and many countries have produced severe critics critics.^
of the German character, the bitterest censors have
been found among eminent Germans themselves. The
nation of thinkers and critics has indeed produced
severe critics of themselves — anatomists who have
studied the anatomy of character from their own body
politic. It is scarcely necessary to do more than men-
tion the names of Frederick the Great, Lessing, Goethe,
Schopenhauer, and, to-day, Bismarck himself. These
men have accused the nation of its dilatory failings, its
doctrinarism, and its tendency to discord. And yet
this very German people has always had a word of
appreciation, sometimes even an extravagant admira-
tion, for the good qualities of other nations.

Yet it is only fair to ask : may not this old-time in-
capacity of rallying around one central personage, this
doctrinarism, be the unfortunate result of that anxious _. ^

' _ The German

and hopeless pondering over and striving for an impos- !",\'["//|'i.',',',','.,'.'J;','''
sible ideal which has enabled the Germans to achieve ";"''>":«■


such wonders in the fields of science and philosophy?


Imperial Germany

Kcsull ol
incapacitv in

Xational unity
a long-covetetl

Has not this politically unfortunate characteristic been
intensified l)y exceptionally uiifavoral)!e historical cir-
cumstances? And may we not assume that the fact
that the old German Empire was an electi\e kingdom
for so long a period largely fostered national discord ?

There is only one other example of an elective king-
dom in history with which to draw a parallel, and in the
very mention of its name the moral is self-evident —
Poland ! The incapacity of the exalted few in whose
hands the national destinies were collectively placed, to
subordinate their pretensions to rule to the claim of any
one family in the interests of all, has had in both in-
stances similar, though fortunately not equal, results.

Surely there is something interesting and instructive
in the above, for there is no denying the long-standing
popular longing for national unity. Does not the
legend of the emperor Barbarossa bear witness to it?
Does not a gleam of romance break through the Middle
Ages and show us the ideal figure of the Hohenstaufcn
emperor Frederick II. (A. D. 1250)? And has not
popular sentiment woven a wreath of undying poetry
around the person of this cultured and unfortunate
champion of national greatness against papal suprem-

.Since that time the Germans have ever been fighting
for union, and often in the agony of strife have they
forgotten what they were striving for, and thought only
of feud and battle.

After the death of the emperor Frederick II. of
Hohenstaufcn the power of the petty princes and of
the aristocracy increased so immeasurably that there
failed to rise to the surface any one predominant influ-

The German Character in Politics.


ence for long. The German king and emperor of the
Holy Roman Empire, elected from the many rulers,
was always powerless to further the consolidation of
national unity. Yet the national longing still survived
and embodied itself in the myth of the Kyffhauser, embodied in ;

■' •' mytn.

where Barbarossa sat in somnolent state, guarded by
ravens, biding the time of the reawakening of national
unity and splendor.

This desire

Blildim; in which thk Oi.ij ( Kim;s and Roman E.mperors


We recjuire an el'lorl (jI the imaginali(jn L\en Id ric.ill
that there was a time when the Cierman emperor ruled a oermany's
country on which the sun ne'er set, when Germany was spiL-n.ior.
the home of merchant princes who helped their nionan h
from their private means.' when German architecture
was the most splendid, when German life was the
most hixuiidus, and ( icrman manufactures the most
renowned. It was llie time f)f Charles V. of 1 lajjshuri;.

The rich I'lmgcrs of AugshurK, who assi.slod Charles \'. with Ihcir wiaUh.


Imperial Germany.

An opportune
Mioineiit lost.

I'he Thirty
Nears' War the

when France's king was Germany's prisoner, when
Spain, with its newly discovered American possessions,
and the whole center of Europe, from the Netherlands to
the frontier of Poland to the east and unto the Alps to
the south, bowed to German sway.

That was the moment for a great political figure to
appear, and, rallying the nation around it, to consolidate
a strong hereditary empire in the center of Europe. The

dawn of a new
era full of bright
hope had begun,
for Luther had
appeared on the
scene and, single-
handed, stood his
ground against
the powers of
Rome. "Yes, I
will go to Worms,
even if the house-
tops are crowded
with devils, ' ' said
this mighty Ger-
man. A spiritual
Bismarck was
there to point to
a new God, but the Hapsburg emperor was no King
William to draw the sword in his name.

Thus the Reformation, instead of uniting Germany,
led to its deepest political degradation — the "Thirty
Years' War" — out of which it emerged with its popu-
lation reduced from sixteen millions to less than five,
and with a loss of national wealth from which it has
even now only partially recovered.

— i tSSI B&^^£ Sag ^mgaM^M i


The Door of the Wittenberg Church against
WHICH Luther Nailed his Famous Theses.

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

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