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   Chapter 15 IS IT THE PEOPLE'S WAR

The Audacious War By Clarence W. Barron Characters: 9703

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


German Socialism-German Unity-A Reverse Political System-Business

Men without Political Influence-A Voice from the People-The German

War Lord.

In America there is no greater conflict of opinion than over the question of the relations of the German people to the present war. There are those who declare most emphatically that when the German people once understand this war there will be revolution in Germany, uprising of the socialists, and the sure overthrow of the Hohenzollern dynasty.

Such opinions are not well based, and their authors do not understand the German temperament, the principles of German government, German organization, or German Socialism.

Socialism in Germany is neither of the destructive order of that in Russia, nor of the wild varieties found in America; nor has it even the order of the Socialism of England. Twenty years ago the Socialism of Germany might be recorded as against the invasion of Belgium, and the bonds of Socialism existing between Belgium, France, and Germany might have interfered with the war programme.

But Socialism in Germany has passed the stage of labor-agitation. Indeed, it has been transformed in the reign of the present Kaiser from agitation against capitalism within the empire to agitation for the expansion of Germany in the territory of its neighbors throughout the world, that German labor may, through German arms, enter into and possess the land without. German Socialism is thus allied with German militarism, and it has also become the respectable party of opposition in the Reichstag. The middle classes of Germany of late years have voted for Socialistic candidates whenever they disagreed with the government. It is the party of protest and of opposition. It is a party of the empire, not of any world socialistic movement.

Germany is thoroughly knit together in support of its government and its Kaiser. The German people do not seek a constitutional government like England, or a republican form of government like France or the United States. They believe their situation and safety in the middle of Europe call for a more autocratic form of government, and one not too quickly responsive to popular sentiment.

Germany was made by Bismarck and the armies of Von Moltke supporting the Hohenzollern dynasty. This made Prussia the center of Germany industrially, financially, and as a military power, and at the heart and seat of power, in both industry and finance, sits the same dynasty. The Emperor is the center of industry, finance, and military power,-three degrees of empire, each distinct in itself, but each intertwined with the others, but so intertwined that the word of power, command and influence comes down from the military seat of power through finance and into industry. Industry does not speak back through the powers of finance to the military center. The flow of the German dispensation of power or of governmental organization runs downward from the Kaiser. No power goes up from the people or industry or finance to the war lord at the center.

The Germans know no other system of government. Outside of Prussia, in the more than thirty states of Germany, there was the local reign. Now over all is the reign of the Kaiser. The present generation has seen a united Germany become great among the nations of the earth. The English-speaking people cannot appreciate the feudalism and the fealty of the German people to their war lord. They say, "Are not the German people great thinkers; do they not know that the power of government is from the governed?" It is inconceivable to them that the Germans should have a reverse system.

My last word from Germany was with an American lady who has been more than one hundred days nursing the wounded from the battle-line, and she, singular as it may appear, assisted on both sides of that battle-line. She assisted to dress the wounds of French soldiers where the lacerations of shrapnel had broken one entire side of a human system, face, eye, ear, jaw, arm, leg; yet that soldier lived. She dressed wounds where more than twenty bullets pierced a single human frame. Yet that soldier will go back to the front. French boys in their 'teens had died in her arms at the hospital,-the hospital where thousands of wounded pass through every month,-and she had taken back to the parents in Paris the dying message. She had been in the German and the French trenches on the line of battle. She had crossed the lines and been under arrest. She had seen the horrible picture of freight-loads of German corpses on German railroads,-corpses unhelmeted, with uncovered faces, but in boots and uniform, tied like cordwood in bunches of three and standing upright on their way to the lime-kilns. She had nursed the wounded German soldier in his delirium, crying in German, which she well understood

, over the horrors which still pursued him as he remembered the face of the wife and saw the agony of the children as he stood in line and by direction of his superior officer shot the husband dead. He moaned in his delirium over the picture. The faces of the wife and children haunted him, but he cried out that his superior officer had ordered him to do it; and she said, "No, these people are not responsible; the dogs of war have driven them as sheep into the slaughter-pens. They are beaten, but fight for the Fatherland. It is their duty and they obey."

And how has it all come about? Simply thus: The Saxon was a Saxon, the

Bavarian was a Bavarian; each suddenly found himself a German and part

of a world-power. Bismarck and Von Moltke had a policy for the

Hohenzollerns; it was a united Germany, and they left it a defensive

Germany.

There was not in the brain of Bismarck or of Von Moltke, or of the Emperor under whom they prosecuted the wars against Austria, Denmark, and France, any idea of Germany as the Conqueror of the world.

"Never be at enmity with the Russian Bear," was the saying at the time of Bismarck and before. "Always contrive that yours shall be a defensive war; let the other party attack," was the declaration of Bismarck.

The policy of Bismarck was: "If you have an enemy, make friends with all the other powers, so that your enemy be isolated diplomatically and politically."

The present Kaiser has reversed every one of the great policies of

Bismarck and of his ancestors that made a united and great Germany.

There is not a language in the world to-day outside the Teutonic that speaks the praise of Germany. Defensive German alliances are broken because the present Kaiser insisted that offensive and defensive are one and the same. In offensive action the Triple Alliance breaks; while the Triple Entente becomes, for defense, nine nations instead of three.

The German people are not responsible for this situation. Their form of government has not yet permitted full, free, and effective expression of opinion; nor does the German seek full political expression. He loves his fireside and his family, and prefers his home ease and philosophy. He has confidence in his Kaiser and his government; and his whole training for a generation has been to make him an obedient part of a military power.

It is gratifying to find that not the German people, but the German Kaiser, is responsible for this war; and it is also gratifying to find that there are doubts as to his full mental responsibility.

I have had closer associations with the German people than with the French, and have liked them better as a people: they are so industrious, efficient, and ambitious in the world's work. I know the German country better than the country of France or England. I think I understand something of the over-self-sufficiency of the English, and I have no prejudice against the Germans, or even their form of government, which may be better adapted to their needs than a broader democracy. But of the German modern war-philosophy the world outside can hold but one opinion. It might have been supported as a purely tentative or speculative philosophy, but it could have been promoted in practice only by a crazy ruler. I was not therefore surprised to find circulated in Paris an article by an American physician which I had permitted to be published in America at the outbreak of the war, showing the mental weaknesses and hereditary taints of Germany's war lord.

I recall him from memory of bygone years, and as I saw him in Berlin when his grandfather was still on the throne-a young man of about twenty, returning from the races and dashing through the Tiergarten holding the reins of six coal-black horses.

I said to myself: "That young man will cut a dash yet." And I still see, in higher light than before, those six coal-black horses-the horses of death.

Recently I read pages of his writings, speeches, and declarations, and there is not for the world an uplifting or new thought within them all. What appears to be new is the echo of an age that was supposed to be long past-when might was rule and valor was religion.

"There is but one will, and that is mine," said the Kaiser, addressing his soldiers; but it has been the keynote to his diplomacy wherever it has appeared, either in pushing a commercial treaty on Russia in her hour of distress, forcing Italy into the Triple Alliance, or dictating the terms of the Austrian ultimatum to Servia, so that it would be impossible of fulfilment.

What is there of world-progress in the declaration of the present

German Emperor, celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of the

Kingdom of Prussia,-

"In this world nothing must be settled without the intervention of

Germany and of the German Emperor."

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