BLTC Press Titles


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The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


The Bhagavad Gita

Anonymous


The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian


Vanity Fair

William Thackery


Germany and the next war

by Friedrich von Bernhardi

Excerpt:

vincingly as possible. It is obvious that this can only be done by taking a national point of view.

Our science, our literature, and the warlike achievements of our past, have made me proudly conscious of belonging to a great civilized nation which, in spite of all the weakness and mistakes of bygone days, must, and assuredly will, win a glorious future ; and it is out of the fulness of my German heart that I have recorded my convictions. I believe that thus I shall most effectually rouse the national feeling in my readers' hearts, and strengthen the national purpose.

THE AUTHOR.

October, 1911.

GERMANY AND THE NEXT WAS,

INTRODUCTION

The value of war for the political and moral development of mankind has been criticized by large sections of the modern civilized world in a way which threatens to weaken the defensive powers of States by undermining the warlike spirit of the people. Such ideas are widely disseminated in Germany, and whole strata of our nation seem to have lost that ideal enthusiasm which constituted the greatness of its history. With the increase of wealth they live for the moment, they are incapable of sacrificing the enjoyment of the hour to the service of great conceptions, and close their eyes complacently to the duties of our future and to the pressing problems of international life which await a solution at the present time.

We have been capable of soaring upwards. Mighty deeds raised Germany from political disruption and feebleness to the forefront of European nations. But we do not seem willing to take up this inheritance, and to advance along the path of development in politics and culture. We tremble at our own greatness, and shirk the sacrifices it demands from us. Yet we do not wish to renounce the claim which we derive from our glorious past. How rightly Fichte once judged his countrymen when he said the German can never wish for a thing by itself ; he must always wish for its contrary also.

The Germans were formerly the best fighting men and the most warlike nation of Europe. For a long time they have proved themselves to be the ruling people of the

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Contiinefti'by the power of their arms and the loftiness of theundeas. Germans have bled and conquered on countless\bkttlefields in every part of the world, and in late ydats have shown that the heroism of their ancestors still lives in the descendants. In striking contrast to this military aptitude they have to-day become a peace-loving "V-an almost " too " peace-loving—nation. A rude shock ••is needed to awaken their warlike instincts, and compel them to show their military strength.

This strongly-marked love of peace is due to various causes.

It springs first from the good-natured character of the German people, which finds intense satisfaction in doctrinaire disputations and partisanship, but dislikes pushing things to an extreme. It is connected with another characteristic of the German nature. Our aim is to be just, and we strangely imagine that all other nations with whom we exchange relations share this aim. We are always ready to consider the peaceful assurances of foreign diplomacy and of the foreign Press to be no less genuine and true than our own ideas of peace, and we obstinately resist the view that the political world is only ruled by interests and never from ideal aims of philanthropy. " Justice," Goethe says aptly, " is a quality and a phantom of the Germans." We are always inclined to assume that disputes between States can find a peaceful solution on the basis of justice without clearly realizing what international justice is.

An additional cause of the love of peace, besides those which are rooted in the very soul of the German people, is the wish not to be disturbed in commercial life.

The Germans are born business men, more than any others in the world. Even before the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, Germany was perhaps the greatest trading Power in the world, and in the last forty years Germany's trade has made marvellous progress under the renewed expansion of her political power. Notwithstanding our small stretch of coast-line, we have createdgress or to decadence. . " A favoured position in the world will only become effective in the life of nations by the conscious human endeavour to use it." It seemed to me, therefore, to be necessary and profitable, at this parting of the ways of our development where we now stand, to throw what light I may on the different paths which are open to our people. A nation must fully realize the probable consequences of its action ; then only can it take deliberately the great decisions for its future development, and, looking forward to its destiny with clear gaze, be prepared for any sacrifices which the present or future may demand.


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