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Imperial Germany; a critical study of fact and character online

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lights up when he is privileged to pour his sing-song
dialect into the ear of the youngest long-suffering Prus-
sian subaltern. Thus the Prussians, after meeting a
world in arms, have shown that they understand the success of
more subtle art of stroking the backs of their newly drpicmfacy.
annexed subjects ; and to-day no more loyal subjects
e.xist than the good burghers of the town of Frankfort-


The victory was won ; but it only urged paternal
government to criticise and amend a system the success
of which had dazzled the world. All Europe was
anxious to copy what had produced such results ; it
impressed everybody but its authors. They set to work
to improve it, and the result is that the army of to-day
is no longer the army of 1870. The military authori-
ties have devoted twenty-six years' unremitting work to improvement
its improvement. What this means will be brought '"""-' ^"""'J-
home to the reader when we recall the historical fact
that the organization and armament of the English army
on the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 differed
very little from that of the time of the battle of Water-
loo in 181 5.

What i)ateriial goxernment has done for the defenses
of the ccnmtry is patent to the world. Hut its silent,
hidden action is even more instructive than its outward
achievements. VVHiile jniblic opinion in !■ ranee is de-


Imperial Germany.

lighted with the perforating effects of a ikw rifle on pau-
Thoroughness per corpses, while the EngHsh wake up to find the

a characteristic ' . . . . .

of paternal niiUions Spent on their rifles, ships, and guns squan-

dered, paternal government in Germany has quietly seen

Strength of



The Coronation Hall of the Hohenstaufen Emperors, in the
Town Hall at Aix-la-Chapelle.

to the efificiency of the last button of the Pomeranian's
uniform !

Public opinion breathes not a word — no newspaper
propaganda — but eyes that never close watch the fron-
tiers of the Fatherland. In the west the fortresses of
Metz and Strassburg look so radiantly innocent on a
bright summer's day, you would hardly fancy that, un-

Paternal Government. 115

heeded by public opinion, they ha\e been so strength-
ened and enlarged that those who were familiar with
them now hardly recognize them. But strategists know
that a sea of a quarter of a million of men might well
pause for fear of breaking its wa\"es against their but-
tresses in vain !

Whereas England, after conxerting the Enfield rifle
into the Snider, discarded it and spent millions on the
Martini only again to find it obsolete to-day, paternal
government immediately after 1870 introduced the
Mauser rifle,' which even now, after twenty-six years,
can still be safely looked upon as equal to anv emer- Superiority of

■' '■ '■ " her weapons.

gency. And here we are impressed by a marked con-
trast. While we in England make the best articles,
our government generally secures the worst at the
dearest price. In Germany, the home of the cheap
and poor, the government always secures the best
article at a low price.

Nothing, however trixial, is too small for the atten-
tion (jf paternal government. E\er since 1871 a cease-
less, but severely systematic, series of trials has been
going on to improve every article of ecjuipment of
the common soldier. Companies are sent on forced
marches to test the wihu- of new knapsacks, new
gaiters; even new drinking flasks are tried, and the
common soldier is interrogated by the emperor as to
liDW he is satisfied wilh them. In England, according Attention t..

,, . ,. , , " details.

to occasionally recurring newspaper disclosures, the
soldiers are defectively fed in liiuf of j)eace. In ( ier-
many only lately a new kind of bread has Ijeeii tested
to replace the old military army bread. It is not sub-
initlcfl to the- af)athetic eye r»f some might}' official,

1 This statement Is not invaliiLitecl by the rt-ii-nl inlroiluclion of the rcpcat-
iiiR rifle.

1 1 6 Imperial Germany.

backed b\' the recommendation of those who have an
interest in getting the contract to sui)ply the army with
bread. Paternal government does not work like that. '
The advantages possessed by the new bread are set
forth, and after their conscientious scrutiny, the Minis-
try of War gives orders that it shall be tried for a
period of three months in a number of large garrisons,
and the reports collected and compared. If these are
favorable the new bread will be immediately introduced
into the whole army.

If such attention is bestowed on details, the reader
Severity of can imagine what the work of paternal government has

army training. , . , , . a r • i

been with regard to more miportant matters. A inend
o\ ours, the beau-ideal of a Prussian officer, who had
passed through the War of 1870 as a lieutenant, had
lately gone through the six weeks' training necessary to
qualify him for the rank of captain. He assured us :
" It is simply unbelievable what they ask of us now. I
only wonder I was able to live through it all." Such
are the tests of efficiency required nowadays in the
Prussian army ! If such be the severity with regard to
petty officers, nobody will be surprised to learn that
the weeding out that has been going on in the higher

fifaiigesin branches of the service is of a stern and radical kind.

official ranks. ^^ pointed out clsewherc, neither past services, nor
influence, nor family connections, have hitherto been
allowed to sway the dispositions of jjaternal government.

1 .As pointing against the spirit of tlie above, we are reminded of cases of
bribery and corruption in the Prussian army and other departments of the
slate service which now and then become public. To that wc reply that even
Prussian institutions are only human and not infallible. But there is this
great distinction to be noted in their workinj;. In Prussia abuses are dis-
covered and sought to be remedied at all times. In other countries only too
often they come to light in the moment of supreme danger amidst a battle of
life and death. We need only refer to the condition of things in England
revealed during the Crimea, during the last Egyptian campaign, with the
French in 1S70, and with the Russians in the 1877 Bulgarian campaign.

Paternal Government. 117

Since the accession of the present emperor already ;i
number of changes ha\e taken place, many of which the
old emperor William, from personal ties, could not
bring himself to make.

What paternal government has done for the education
of the country, primary, classical, and technical, has
been referred to elsewhere, and is besides too well
known to require further mention.

Having provided the nation with food for the mind,
the best of its class, paternal government proceeds to Oovemmental

'■ '^ _ ' supervision of

see that the food of the body is not adulterated — no food products,
slight task among a people which, in commerce, lays its
hands upon everything and counterfeits everything it
can lay its hands on.

While in new-born Italy,' constitutional Austria, par-
liamentarv England, rc'])ublican France, and democratic
America adulteration of every article of food is rampant,
the paternal laws of Germany are of a nature to stop the
most hardened of?ender. For the law provides that those
who sell an adulterated article — even if shown to be igno- Adulteration of
rant of the offense — are liable to fine and imprisonment.
And how that law is administered ! In England the
spirit of the middle classes tells us, through John Bright,
that adulteration is only a form of competition !

While public opinion in England allows not only the
legitimation of quack medicines, but the realization also
of $1,200,000 a year* to the revenue by their ta.xation,

< The chemical examiiialion of a so-called ll.iliaii " Magliani " cinar, made
!)>• the Kovernnieiit in I'iaceiiza, will give an idea to what extent adiilleration is
practiced in the sunny South. The cigar in question contained ( i ) a piece of
lime, (2) i>owdcred gypsum, (3) a (|uantity of humus, (4) a piece of wood, (5) a
|>iece of string. As a Roman newspaper sarcastically put it, a mason with his
Irowcl was only wanting in conjunction with a dozen such cigars in order to
huild a six-storied palace ; the necessary materials were all there.

« Statistics dealing willi amounts paid to the Hritish government in the foi in
ofa tax on patent medicines in the financial year 1S95-96.


Imperial Gcymany.

Exposition of



Local govern-


the Prussian government either forbids their sale if
poisonous, or analyzes them and causes their worthless-
ness to be made ofhcially j)ublic, as in the following
instance :

Warning as;ainst Patent Medicines. — An official scientific
analysis of a medicine advertised under the name of " Schlag-
wasser," manufactured liy Roman Weissmann in Vilshofen,
has shown the following; : It consists of nothing else save
a little tincture of ratanhia, or kino, mi.xed with tincture of
arnica, the value of which is between 5 cents and 7 cents,
whereas it is sold at %2 a bottle. It is self-evident that this
decoction does not possess the virtues attributed to it.

In England, such beneficial announcements are left to
the initiative of the press, which (except in rare cases,
such as, some years ago, the Saturday Review') does
not publish them, because some papers draw a large
income from advertising patent medicines.


After safeguarding the national existence and its
bodily health, paternal government energetically pur-
sues its care for the well-being and happiness of the
greatest number in all the branches of this diiificult task.

Subordinate to the Imperial Reichstag, but inde-
pendent in its own sphere of action, each German state
possesses its own parliament. And instead of con-
tributing to foment petty rivalries, as of old, these
parliaments now attend to the legitimate satisfaction
of local wants — the most perfect form of local govern-

The Bundesrath (Federal Council), in which every
smaller state is represented and can exercise a fair share
of influence, has proved itself an excellent guardian of
the national interests.

When Germany was reorganized after 1870, a perfect

Paternal Government. 1 1 9

Babel of conflicting law codes were found in force. For
instance, Bavaria alone possessed seventy-eight different
civil codes, such towns as Bamberg, Nuremberg, and
Augsburg each having a special law code of its own. In
the beginning of the eighties a commission was appointed
and worked for eight years at the new uniform civil code
for the empire. The results of its labors, after being sub-
mitted to the criticism of practical lawyers, were passed ,['^y^ "^f^^ ^'^''
into law and gradually, in the course of three years,
adopted throughout the country. The new commercial
and criminal laws {Rekhsgesetz') are already in force ;
the highest tribunal is situated outside of Prussia proper,
in Leipzig. It is indeed, according to universal testi-
mony, a marvelous monument of erudition and honest
effort to reconcile conflicting interpretations of law, and
to meet the legal wants of tlie nation in tlie spirit of the

Not only is law cheap in Germany — perhaps in some
ways too cheap — but it is in stern reality the same impartiality

■' ' f ... til ilie law.

for the rich and the poor. The system of admitting to
bail, one that tends to favor the rich, and one that is so
often abused, is very limited. No offense punisliable
by more than a year's imprisonment is bailable at all.
This may be a hardship in a few cases, but it is a strong
point nevertheless. Whetlur it be an ambassador or a
professor— for the higher the position and cai)acity
of doing harm, the greater the crime — who is accused of
a serious crime, he stands on no better footing than the
humblest transgressor of the laws.

The transfer of land, in England one of the costliest
and most doubtful parts of our conveyancing system, is
prompt, sure, and cheap in Ciermany.

As a result of the dire experience of speculation
and commerrial ruin in the years 1873-74, the laws


Imperial Germany

Revision of
certain laws.

control of

affecting commercial companies, fraudulent bankruptcy,
and embezzlement ha\e been entirely recast, whereas iu
England we are still unable to get two judges to agree
to one definition of the law on embezzlement. Thus it
is not surprising that, since the great " crash " {KracJi )
of 1873, there has been comparatively little stock-
company swindling in Germany, although, in the mean-
time, Berlin is fast outstripping Paris as a money
market. During the same period we have witnessed in
England the failure of the Glasgow Bank, of the Cardiff
Savings Bank, of Greenways' Bank — not to mention the
many millions the public has lost through other limited
liability companies —bringing ruin and misery to thou-

Again, while the administration of many English
petty savings banks, of hospitals, and other charities
has been impeached in public and shown to be wasteful,
if not worse, the same classes of institution in Germany
are more or less controlled by the state, and show a
wonderfully clean record.

The social laws concerning divorce and illegitimacy
have not the draconic character of our own ; they are
more humane, and yet we have to learn that there is less
domestic happiness and more immorality in Germany
than in England.

The guardianship of lunatics is under the direct con-
trol of the state. Spendthrifts are, and habitual drunk-
ards soon will be, deprived of the unlimited control
of their fortunes, and although we in England are.
suspicious of such laws, fearing they might be abused,
as they inevitably would be with us, there is no dan-
ger of their perversion in Germany.

In fact, the one failing of this stern paternal govern-
ment is its humanitarianism. Its criminal code is far

Paternal . Government. 121

more merciful than our own, and until lately there was a
strong probability of the total abolition of the death ^'grmanv^s
penalty. The murderous attempts of the socialists <^iim"iaicode.
came in time to furnish a suitable occasion to reinstate
it. But the attempts on the late emperor William's life,
far from blinding the government to the misery of the
])Oor and the legitimate aspirations of the working
classes, only seemed to direct attention to them ; not in
craven cowardice, but in genuine concern for the welfare
of the people. The imperial message of February, 1881,
to the Reichstag brought forward the earnest wish of
the emperor himself to initiate legislation to improve the
lot of the workingman. Since then the laws for the
benefit (^f the working classes have come into existence.
It is as yet impossible to gauge their benefit ; but the
imperial recognition of the right of tlic luunblest to the
consideration of the stale must remain a grand monu-
ment to the honor of paternal government.

Passing from a consideration of the laws of the . , ,

*> A model

country again to the activity of tlie state as an ad- bureaucracy,
ministrator, we find a model bureaucracy doing in civil
life the part of the army as a defender against outward

The German postal service has become the pattern for

,, , . XT 1 • • ••If- The poslal

all Other countries. Nothing is t(j(.> trivial tor its atten- service,
tion, and nothing too remote to escape its eye. Whereas
we have for many years put up with the disgraceful
mail service between England and the Continent via
Belgium. ' and paid a ridiculous price for its transit via

• Not to forget the scandalous passenger service through France and Bel-
gium. Here German paternal government, hy its cooperation with the Dutch
government, succeeded in starting the (juick tlirough service 7'/a I'lushing tn
Rerlln, and has thus rciulcrcd signal scrviie t<> the traveling coinniunity.

I 2:

Imperial Genua 11 v.

The express

Expense of
England's rail-
way svsteni.

Ostend, the Germans took ilu' iiiitiatixc l)y sending their
mails via Mushing; and now tliat the KngHsh authorities
lia\e joined their protests against the scandals of the
Ostend line, the Belgians have been forced to ])ut on
new steamers.

The express service shows a surplus, whereas the
English, which was copied from it and is cheaper, shows

Gkneral Post-Okfice, Bremen.

a deficit. In the telegraph system the Germans were
the first to lay the wires underground on a large scale.
In England public opinion is still fighting a con-
tinuous battle against the pretensions of private railway
company monopolists. The price paid to the land-
owners for the prix'ilege of running the lines over their
property has saddled the public with the most expen-
sive railway system in Europe. The cost of forcing the
concessions through Parliament has in course of time
cost the companies millions. Thus we are not surprised

Paternal GovenimeiU.

to read that, although the five largest railway com-
panies in England are virtual gold mines to the lucky-
shareholders, of 258 railways in England and Wales,
137, or more than one half of the whole, paid no
dividends whatever in 1884.' Vet the Times plain-
tively exclaims : " Our commerce is being throttled by
the enormous cost of internal carriage ; goods often
cost more for a short transit to the coast than they

TnK Niiw Kailwav Station, Cologne.

subsequently do for sea-carriage to the ends of the

Not only are tlic English railways more expensive English w.
than the (icrman lines, but, except where ctmipetition 'a'iiw:r"s.
forces a keen rivalry, they cannot compare for cleanli-
ness, comfort, or punctuality. The dirt and unpunctu-
ality on some of the English southern lines would be
sought for in vain all over Germany, and the jjower of

1 And things have nft imjirovci! nnic li in this respect since.


Imperial Germanj.

State owner-

Excellence of




the i^ress has hitherto proved unavaiHng- to secure a
remedy for these things.

One of the greatest tasks of paternal government has
been the taking over of the raihvays by the state. It is
still incomplete,' but almost all lines in Prussia proper
are now state property. Hence there is now one sys-
tem and one tariff where formerly close upon a thousand
existed. How this one system works we hear from the
best of English authorities, " Bradshaw's Guide,"
which states that the German railways are uniformly
excellent. That the carriages of each class arc better
than those in England has long been admitted ; and
lately the American saloon-carriages are being widely
introduced, not for one class only, as in England,
but for all classes alike.

It would lead us too far to enter into e\'ery point of
the German railway system ; we will only mention that
the minutest details for the comfort of the public are
not beneath the direct notice of the minister of public
works, Dr. von Maybach, who is the supreme head of
the Prussian railway system. Whereas one of the
latest postal reforms in England consists in being
allowed to post a letter in a postal train with an extra
stamp, in Germany not only has it long been permissi-
ble to do so without any extra stamp, but all trains
carrying the mails accept telegrams also without extra

The railway refreshment rooms — in England one of
the crying scandals of the railway system, where the
favored contractor is allowed to poison the public with-
out let or hindrance — are regulated in Prussia with the
utmost care and conscientiousness. Not only is every

1 In Bavaria the railways are still noted for their irre.a;ularity and ineffi-

Paternal Government.


article wliich is sold tested, but the price charged is
regulated by the authorities. Besides that, in every
railway refreshment room all through the country (and
most stations have one) a book is kept to enter any
complaint made.

Only a short time ago a Liberal member of the Reichs-
tag accused Dr. \o\\ Maybach of having disposed of a f^[/^^'""^°^
railway refreshment license by favor to an unqualified regulations.



Kaiskr Wilhi;i.m Canal.

jjcrscn. Dr. von .Maybach proved thai under his rule it
was simply impossible ihai ex en the contract for a little
refreshment room at a side station could be given away
through influence of an\- kind. In England there are
no refreshment rooms vmless the traffic is large enough
to insure a gcjod profit to the lessee, and then they are a
disgrace to the railway system. lUit the q\m\ and aim of
all the railway companies is to secure big divi-


Impoial Germany.

The Kaiser
Wilheltn canal.

protection to

Not o\\\\ roatls bv land, but naxii-ablc rivers and
canals show signs of the unceasing- care of the govern-
ment. The former arc luiifonnly kept in an excellent
state of repair, and, in reference to the latter, the fact of
the government piercing a canal from Kiel to Wilhelm-
shafen, at an expense of $39,000,000, speaks volumes
for its initiative.' This canal, which is now completed,
shortens the steam voyage from Hamburg to Cronstadt
by forty-four hours, from London by twenty-two, and
from Hull by fifteen. It has infused new life into the
Baltic, and will do much to revive the prosperity of
ancient cities like Dantzig on the Prussian coast, besides
increasing the effectiveness of the German fleet.

Even the cultivation of fish is not beneath the attention
of the government, and a state fish-breeding establish-
ment at Huningen in Alsace is the nucleus from which
the pisciculture of the country receives fresh impulse and


The protectionist policy pursued with regard to native
industries has yet to justify itself by results ; in the mean-
time there can be no doubt of the temporary impulse it
has given to trade. The Germans, like the Americans,
sought in protection a means, if only temporary, of
building up their industries. Whether it will in every
respect, and in the long run, yield all the results
anticipated from it remains to be seen. Also, a new
dramatic copyright treaty with England has secured
protection for German authors which they have long-

Bismarck has said that the fear of responsibility is one
of the diseases of our time. This fear he certainly was

1 Prussia contributes 512,500,000 on Iier own account, and tlie empire gener-
ally the remainder, penurious I'russia thus paying twice over.

Paternal Governvient. 127

not insensible to when he shared the responsibiUty with

his sovereign of introducingf, one bv one, the well-known i"trot'u';^t'on

s> is' y ' of laws for

laws for the benefit of the working classes. He knew workingmen.

that the vested interests of the country, the landowners,

and the well-to-do middle classes would never take the

initiative, so he determined to do so himself. To many

it is a dangerous doctrine to admit that social problems

of the character in question can be solved by the state,

and the attempt to do so will have to be judged by its

results in the future. Still, it was a bold attempt, made

in a noble spirit.

That the state cannot exercise the power it does in

^ . . ,..,., . . . . Disadvantages

uermanv Without brmgmg disad\'antages m its tram is of paternal

,'-... . • 1 r 11 • 1 f Kovenunent.

natural. Nor is it our aim to judge finally in how far
the advantages outweigh the disadvantages ; that can be
shown by time alone. We only wish to point out that
honest paternal government has done a deal of really
good work, such as even a parliamentary majority might
be proud of having accomplished. Who, one hundred
and thirty years ago, seeing Frederick the Great return
in triumph to his half-ruined and starving Berlin popula-
tion after the Seven Years' War, would have ventured
to pnjphesy the future greatness of Prussia, which, after
all, owes so much indirectly to those years of struggle
and national suffering !

So also in <jur time there was something anomalous in

, f . ,.,.', -11 Dangers to be

seeing the state 01 siege proclaimed m tlie capital and averted.
other large towns ; to kiKjw that the laws which govern
the exj)ression of jjolitical opinion are almost as .severe
as under a reactionary despotic government ; to know

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Online LibrarySidney WhitmanImperial Germany; a critical study of fact and character → online text (page 8 of 23)