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Kelly Miller's History of the World War for Human Rights By Kelly Miller Characters: 29872

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

The Iron Hand of Prussianism-The Arrogant Hohenzollern Attitude-Secretary Lane Tells Why We Fight-Broken Pledges-Laws Violated-Prussianism the Child of Barbarity-Germany's Plans for a World Empire.

Not merely to prevent Germany from opening avenues of commerce to the seas nor to throttle the ambitions of the Kaiser was America drawn into the vortex of war with France, England, Russia, Belgium, Italy and other nations; but that the iron hand of Prussianism, as exemplified in the conduct of the German Government, might be lifted from the shoulders of men, and the world given that measure of peace and security which modern civilization demands.

Germany by her ruthless submarine warfare brought desolation to many American homes. She sank without a pang of conscience the great transatlantic steamship Lusitania, and, while pretending friendship for the United States and pleading no intent to disregard American rights, broke her own pledges and repeated her overt acts, ignoring international law and the rights of all neutrals at sea.

She began her outlawry by the invasion of Belgium, which was followed by conduct on the part of the German forces which clearly marked them descendants of the "wolf tribes" of feudal days, fighting with the motto before them of, "To the victor belong the spoils."

But all of Germany's diabolical acts involving the peace and security of America and American citizens might have been the subject of international adjudication but for the arrogance of the ruling forces of the Teutons. In a broad sense, Prussianism is credited with responsibility for the devastating war and for the policy which drew America into the conflict.

The country, led by President Woodrow Wilson, who temporized to an extent that for a time made him the subject of bitter criticism, found that war was being forced upon it by an autocratic and ambitious German Government-that of the Hohenzollern dynasty-which possessed an insane ambition to dominate the earth, leaving to America no alternative but to borrow the piratical terrorism of Imperialistic Germany, with temporary abandonment of its own constitutional free government, and join the Allies to defend it.

In the sense which Prussianism or militarism is here used it denotes a mental attitude or view. It is a condition of mind which is partisan, exaggerated and egotistical, and is developed by environment and training. Just as the professional spirit in any other occupation leads to an exhibition of exaggerated importance, the despotic doctrine of militarism assumes superiority over rational motives and deliberations. Everything must be sacrificed to perpetuate and maintain the honor and prestige of the military.


What that militarism is and what it has done to America, and to the whole world, is best summed up in the words of Secretary Lane, of the Department of the Interior, at Washington, who in an address before the Home Club of the Department on June 4, 1917, just when America was beginning to send forces to Europe, said:

"America is at war in self-defense and because she could not keep out; she is at war to save herself with the rest of the world from the nation that has linked itself with the Turk and adopted the methods of Mahomet, setting itself to make the world bow before policies backed by the organized and scientific military system.

"Why are we fighting Germany? The brief answer is that ours is a war of self-defense. We did not wish to fight Germany. She made the attack upon us; not on our shores, but on our ships, our lives, our rights, our future. For two years and more we held to a neutrality that made us apologists for things which outraged man's common sense of fair play and humanity.

"At each new offense-the invasion of Belgium, the killing of civilian Belgians, the attacks on Scarborough and other defenseless towns, the laying of mines in neutral waters, the fencing off of the seas-and on and on through the months, we said:

"'This is war-archaic, uncivilized war, but war. All rules have been thrown away; all nobility; man has come down to the primitive brute. And while we cannot justify, we cannot intervene. It is not our war.'


"Then why are we in? Because we could not keep out. The invasion of Belgium, which opened the war, led to the invasion of the United States by slow, steady, logical steps. Our sympathies evolved into a conviction of self-interest. Our love of fair play ripened into alarm at our own peril.

"We talked in the language and in the spirit of good faith and sincerity, as honest men should talk, until we discovered that our talk was construed as cowardice. And Mexico was called upon to cow us.

"We talked as men would talk who cared alone for peace and the advancement of their own material interests, until we discovered that we were thought to be a nation of mere moneymakers, devoid of all character-until, indeed, we were told that we could not walk the highways of the world without permission of a Prussian soldier, that our ships might not sail without wearing a striped uniform of humiliation upon a narrow path of national subservience.

"We talked as men talk who hope for honest agreement, not for war, until we found that the treaty torn to pieces at Liege was but the symbol of a policy that made agreements worthless against a purpose that knew no word but success.

"And so we came into this war for ourselves. It is a war to save America, to preserve self-respect, to justify our right to live as we have lived, not as some one else wishes us to live. In the name of freedom we challenge with ships and men, money and an undaunted spirit, that word 'verboten' which Germany has written upon the sea and upon the land.

"For America is not the name of so much territory. It is a living spirit, born in travail, grown in the rough school of bitter experiences, a living spirit which has purpose and pride and conscience, knows why it wishes to live and to what end, knows how it comes to be respected of the world, and hopes to retain that respect by living on with the light of Lincoln's love of man as its old and new testaments.


"It is more precious that this America should live than that we Americans should live. And this America as we now see has been challenged from the first of this war by the strong arm of a power that has no sympathy with our purpose, and will not hesitate to destroy us if the law that we respect, the rights that are to us sacred, or the spirit that we have, stand across her set will to make this world bow before her policies, backed by her organized and scientific military system. The world of Christ-a neglected but not a rejected Christ-has come again face to face with the world of Mahomet, who willed to win by force.

"With this background of history and in this sense, then, we fight Germany:

"Because of Belgium-invaded, outraged, enslaved, impoverished Belgium. We cannot forget Liege, Louvain and Cardinal Mercier. Translated into terms of American history these names stand for Bunker Hill, Lexington and Patrick Henry.

"Because of France-invaded, desecrated France, a million of whose heroic sons have died to save the land of Lafayette. Glorious, golden France, the preserver of the arts, the land of noble spirit. The first land to follow our lead into republican liberty.

"Because of England-from whom came the laws, traditions, standards of life and inherent love of liberty which we call Anglo-Saxon civilization. We defeated her once upon the land and once upon sea. But Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Canada are free because of what we did. And they are with us in the fight for the freedom of the seas.

"Because of Russia-new Russia. She must not be overwhelmed now. Not now, surely, when she is just born into freedom. Her peasants must have their chance; they must go to school to Washington, to Jefferson and to Lincoln, until they know their way about in this new, strange world, of government by the popular will; and

"Because of other peoples, with their rising hope that the world may be freed from government by the soldier.


"We are fighting Germany because she sought to terrorize us and then to fool us. We could not believe that Germany would do what she said she would do upon the seas.

"We still hear the piteous cries of children coming up out of the sea where the Lusitania went down. And Germany has never asked forgiveness of the world.

"We saw the Sussex sunk, crowded with the sons and daughters of neutral nations.

"We saw ship after ship sent to the bottom-ships of mercy bound out of America for the Belgian starving; ships carrying the Red Cross and laden with the wounded of all nations; ships carrying food and clothing to friendly, harmless, terrorized peoples; ships flying the Stars and Stripes-sent to the bottom hundreds of miles from shore, manned by American seamen, murdered against all law, without warning.

"We believed Germany's promise that she would respect the neutral flag and the rights of neutrals, and we held our anger and outrage in check. But now we see that she was holding us off with fair promises until she could build her huge fleet of submarines. For when spring came she blew her promise into the air, just as at the beginning she had torn up that 'scrap of paper.' Then we saw clearly that there was but one law for Germany, her will to rule.

"We are fighting Germany because she violated our confidence. Paid German spies filled our cities. Officials of her Government, received as the guests of this nation, lived with us to bribe and terrorize, defying our law and the law of nations.

"We are fighting Germany because while we were yet her friends-the only great power that still held hands off-she sent the Zimmermann note calling to her aid Mexico, our southern neighbor, and hoping to lure Japan, our western neighbor, into war against this nation of peace.


"The nation that would do these things proclaims the gospel that government has no conscience. And this doctrine cannot live, or else democracy must die! For the nations of the world must keep faith. There can be no living for us in a world where the State has no conscience, no reverence for the things of the spirit, no respect for international law, no mercy for those who fall before its force. What an unordered world! Anarchy! The anarchy of the rival wolf packs!

"We are fighting Germany because in this war feudalism is making its last stand against oncoming democracy. We see it now. This is a war against an old spirit, an ancient, outworn spirit. It is a war against feudalism-the right of the castle on the hill to rule the village below. It is a war of democracy-the right of all to be their own masters. Let Germany be feudal if she will! But she must not spread her system over a world that has outgrown it. Feudalism plus science, thirteenth century plus twentieth; this is the religion of the mistaken Germany that has linked itself with the Turk; that has, too, adopted the method of Mahomet: 'The State has no conscience,' 'the State can do no wrong.' With the spirit of the fanatic, she believes this gospel and that it is her duty to spread it by force.

"With poison gas that makes living a hell, with submarines that sneak through the seas to slyly murder non-combatants, with dirigibles that bombard men and women while they sleep, with a perfected system of terrorization that the modern world first heard of when German troops entered China, German feudalism is making war upon mankind.


"Let this old spirit of evil have its way and no man will live in America without paying toll to it, in manhood and in money. This spirit might demand Canada from a defeated, navyless England, and then our dream of peace on the north would be at an end. We would live, as France has lived for forty years, in haunting terror.

"America speaks for the world in fighting Germany. Mark on a map those countries which are Germany's allies, and you will mark but four, running from the Baltic through Austria and Bulgaria to Turkey. All the other nations, the whole globe around, are in arms against her or are unable to move. There is deep meaning in this.

"We fight with the world for an honest world, in which nations keep their word; for a world in which nations do not live by swagger or by threat; for a world in which men think of the ways in which they can conquer the common cruelties of nature instead of inventing more horrible cruelties to inflict upon the spirit and body of man; for a world in which the ambition or the philosophy of a few shall not make miserable all mankind; for a world in which the man is held more precious than the machine, the system or the State."

In his denunciations of the Imperial German Government President Wilson and his advisers have indicted the House of Hohenzollern, of which Emperor Wilhelm is the head, and which has developed the unbending military spirit which has resulted in Germany being counted an outcast among the nations of the world.

America, it must be noted, has no antipathy for the Germans as a race, but modern civilization opposes that form of Government which has permitted the cruel characteristics of the "wolf tribes" of feudal times to be carried down through the generations, and capitalized by the Imperial powers to bring terror to the hearts of all who do not bow to the iron hand of the Kaiser and his ilk.


The thing from which this Prussianism-this militarism-grew is easily traceable down the German ages. The very first appearance of the Germans in history is as a warlike race. The earliest German literature is composed of folk tales about war heroes-their ideals and manly virtues. And this ideal in one form or another, under varying circumstances and conditions, persisted throughout the centuries.

It is not merely that military service has been compulsory in Germany, but that almost everything else has been subjugated to the development of the army. While Germany has given to the world a generous quota of scientists, industrial geniuses, musicians and poets, the whole race is imbued with the warlike spirit and its influence is manifest in every phase of national life. Practically all that is best in the nation in the way of efficiency has been inspired or may be traced to the military discipline to which the people have been subjected for years. They have been created human machines, trained to obey orders and to perform the services to which they are assigned without protest and without question.

The history of Germany began with Henry, the Fowler, about A.D. 929, who was essentially the first sovereign. He developed the system of margraves or wardens to

guard the frontiers of the kingdom, fortified his towns and required every ninth man to take up arms for his country. Robbers were forced to become soldiers or be hanged, and as lawlessness was rampant there was no dearth of material to fill up the ranks of the army.

The margraves, or military leaders under them, grew in importance and influence until the offices tended to become hereditary. Gradually the country was divided into principalities, each of which maintained a force of arms. This limited form of military rule maintained for several centuries of troublesome times, or until about 1412, when Emperor Sigismund appointed Burgrave Frederick, of Nuremberg, "Stratt-halter," or vice-regent.


This appointment marked the establishment of the Hohenzollerns in Brandenburg, and, in fine, fixes the birth of the military spirit in Germany.

Other princes of the German Reich maintained armies, but the Hohenzollerns were destined to imprint upon the nation the military ideal. In the beginning history says that Burgrave Frederick tried all the arts of peace, but it was only with the army of Franks and some artillery that he was able to batter down the castles of the robber lords and bring order into Brandenburg.

Thomas Carlyle gives a list of twelve electors who strove in turn to consolidate the power of Prussia, so that when Frederick the Great became King of Prussia he found much of the work done. Among the rulers of these strenuous days to whom the Kaiser Wilhelm may point as having handed down to him the warlike spirit are Kurfuerst Joachim I, of Brandenburg (1529), who introduced Roman law and established a supreme court for all the provinces at Berlin; Kurfuerst Joachim II, of Brandenburg (1542), whom history describes as an unscrupulous despot, fond of luxury and display, and who changed his religion because it was an advantage politically for him to do so; Margrave Georg Frederick von Ansbach (1564), who caused the eyes of sixty peasants to be bored out upon winning the Peasants' war, and Kurfuerst Frederick William der Grosse, of Brandenburg (1652), known as the "Great Elector," a fighter, who had two clearly defined aims: to build up agriculture and maintain a big army.

For years the Hohenzollerns and their aides were fighting unfriendly neighbors and quarrelsome princes, and when after the lapse of time the Thirty Years' War finally turned Germany into a field of blood, the Great Elector emerged from the strife with the support of about 25,000 well drilled soldiers, and freed his country from foreign foes.


The establishment of the power of the Junkers-the autocrats of Prussianism-is credited to Frederick the Great, who was the great drillmaster who organized the Prussian army on lines of efficiency and economy. It is related that Frederick, afterward "The Great," was taken from his women teachers at the age of seven years and subjected to rigid military discipline. He commanded a company of cadets, composed of the sons of nobles who were compelled to drill for him, and at the age of fourteen he was a captain in the Potsdam Guards, and when, in 1740, he became king, he took the army and held all Europe at his mercy. His successor, Frederick William II, was incapable, and the French revolution found Germany in a state of discord.

When Frederick William III acceded to the throne in 1797 he started to reorganize the army. Frederick William I had divided the country into districts, or cantons, and here began the system of compulsory military training. All males born were enrolled and liable to service when of age. The army was recruited by districts and every district had its regiment, though later exemptions were allowed. Under Frederick William III, Scharnhorst, a Hanoverian, was the military reorganizer, and he began the work with the slogan "All dwellers of the State are born defenders of the same."

Instead of depending for its development on king, the army was directed by genius of best men developed by the system. After the formation of the German Empire in 1871, which placed the king of Prussia at its head, the Constitution of the German Empire made every German a member of the active army for seven years. Service with colors three years and with the reserve four. In 1875 there were eighteen army corps, of which twelve were Prussian. The strength by law in 1874 was 400,000.


In 1881 the established peace strength was increased by thirty-four battalions of infantry, forty batteries of field artillery and other forces, and in 1886 Bismarck, recognizing the power of Prussianism and its military influence, was compelled to dissolve the Reichstag, but after the election in 1887 thirty-one other battalions and twenty-four batteries were added. Two complete army corps were added in 1890, and in 1893 the color service, or length of time when reservists were subject to duty under colors only, was decreased by two years, bringing the peace strength up to more than half a million and the reservists up to 4,000,000. Step by step the strength of the military force was increased until after the adoption of the law of 1913, when provision was made for 699 battalions of infantry; 633 batteries of field artillery; 44 battalions of engineers; 55 battalions of garrison artillery; 31 battalions of communications and 26 battalions of train troops-a grand total of 870,000 actually in service in peace strength.

The German Empire is composed of twenty-six states-Prussia, Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden, Saxony, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Sterlitz, Oldenburg, Brunswick, Saxe-Weimer-Eisnach, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Altenburg, Waldeck, Lippe, Schaumburg-Lippe, Reuss (elder line), Reuss (younger line), Anhalt, Schwarz-Rudolstadt, Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen, Hamburg, Bremen, Lubeck and Reichsland-the Alsace-Lorraine. The area is less than that of the State of Texas while the population according to the most recent statistics is about 65,000,000.

Every male person between the ages of eighteen and forty-five is liable for military service. Reservists under the rules in force when the war started were subject to two musters annually and two periods of training not to exceed eight weeks in duration.


That the present Emperor is imbued with the harsh military spirit of his ancestors is illustrated by his many egotistical and exaggerated utterances. In dedicating the monument of Prince Frederick Charles at Frankfurt-on-the-Oder in 1891, he is quoted as having said:

"We would rather sacrifice our eighteen army corps and our 42,000,000 inhabitants on the field of battle than surrender a single stone of what my father and Prince Frederick gained." The thrills which such expressions arouse are born of an inveterate emotional habit, and are responsible for the obliquity of view and conduct which has made Germany an outcast among civilized nations.

But Germany was not satisfied with what she had obtained by her crusading. Developments of the war prove conclusively that the Kaiser has followed out the blood and iron politico-economic methods of Bismarck for the development of Prussian power and that while at times Germany has been reported to be maneuvering for peace, her peace moves have in reality been war moves, and that a truce would only give the Imperial Government time in which to further Prussianize and prepare for a greater world war the territory to the southeast which she has conquered under the guise of a friendly alliance.

It will be recalled that President Wilson declared that "America must fight until the world is made safe for democracy." This declaration refers immediately to the plans which Germany had developed for its conquest. Based upon reports received by agents of the United States, of England, of France and other countries, Germany aimed to form a consolidation of an impregnable military and economic unit stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, cutting Europe permanently in half, controlling the Dardanelles, the Agean and the Baltic, and eventually forming the backbone of a Prussian world empire.


In her southeastern conquests, it is apparent, Germany followed almost in toto the long established plan of the Pan-German League, whose propaganda had been regarded outside of Germany as the harmless activity of extremists, too radical to be taken seriously. Coupled with this plan, as an instrument of economic consolidation, the German officials used with only slight modification the system of customs union expansion which aided Prussia in former years to extend her domination over the other German States now making up the empire.

As early as 1911 the Pan-German League is said to have circulated a definite propaganda of conquest, with printed appeals containing maps of a greater Germany, whose sway from Hamburg to Constantinople and then southeastward through Asiatic Turkey was marked out by boundaries very coincident with the military lines held today, under German officers, by the troops of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. Adhesion of the German Government itself to such a plan was not suspected by the other Powers, although the propagandists were permitted to continue their activities unhindered and to spread their appeals in a country of strict press supervision. How closely the German Government did adhere to the plan in reality has been demonstrated clearly by the course of the war.

Following the footsteps of Bismarck, who used the Franco-Prussian war alliance to bring Baden, Bavaria and Wurttemburg into the German confederacy and then into the German Empire, Emperor William chose war as the means of establishing the broad pathway to the southeast which was essential for realization of the dream of a great Germany.


The subjugation of Austria-Hungary, which would have presented a different task under ordinary conditions, became in these circumstances comparatively very simple. A polyglot combination of States, having little in common and apparently held together only by the decaying genius of the aged Emperor Franz Joseph, the dual monarchy was regarded everywhere as on the verge of dissolution. Her helplessness before Russia's army became apparent early in the war, and the eagerness with which Germany seized the opportunity thus presented is pointed to as emphasizing the far-sightedness of the German plans.

Austria-Hungary's submission is declared to be complete, both in a military and economic sense. The German officers commanding her armies, abetted by industrial agents, scattered throughout the country by Germany, hold the Austrian and Hungarian population in a union which neither the hardships of war, the death of the Emperor nor the inspiration of the outside influences, such as the Russian revolution, can break.

Bulgaria's declaration of war on the side of Germany was actuated by a German diplomatic coup, which in itself is regarded now as further evidence that a clear road through to the Dardanelles was considered in Berlin as a primary and imperative purpose of the war.

In the case of Turkey, German domination is even more complete than in Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. Not only have German officers led in defending Turkish territory and in eradicating inharmonious elements, such as the Armenians and Syrians, but German industrial organizations have taken a firm grip on Turkish industry and a large delegation of German professors have been spreading German kultur among the population.

The developments threw a new light on many events before the war. Among them the long-unexplained declaration of Emperor William at Damascus in 1898 that all Mohammedans might confidently regard the German Emperor as "their friend forever." There also is a complete understanding now of Germany's eagerness to obtain, in 1899, a concession for the Bagdad railroad, an artery of communication now indispensable to the German operations.

These are the things and conditions to which the Allies referred when in replying to one of President Wilson's peace notes they declared that war must accomplish the "liberation of Italians, of Slavs, of Rumanians and of Tzecho-Slovacs from foreign domination; the enfranchisement of populations subject to the bloody tyranny of the Turk; the expulsion from Europe of the Ottoman Empire, and the restoration of Servia, Montenegro and Rumania."

America entered the war to fight for Democracy. On the surface the United States pledged itself to protect its ships and make secure the lives of its citizens on the highways of the world, but the principles for which the manhood of the country were called to fight have been summarized as follows:

That the nations of the world shall co-operate and not compete. The paradox of history is that every struggle leads to firmer unity. Wars cemented France, unified the British Empire, consolidated the American Union.

That national armaments be limited to purposes of internal police, no nation be allowed to have a force sufficient to be a menace to general peace, and a League of Peace be formed which shall have at its hand sufficient armed power to compel order among the States.

That nations be governed by the people that compose them, and for the benefit of those people, and not of a ruling class.

That every nation be governed with an eye to the welfare of the whole world as well as to its own prosperity or glory, and patriotism properly subjected to humanity.

That the power of government be dissociated from advancing the profits of capital, and made always to mean the welfare of labor.

That security of life, freedom of worship and opinion, and liberty of movement be assured to all men everywhere.

That no munitions or instruments of death be manufactured except under control of the International Council of the World.

That the seas be free to all.

That tariffs be adjusted with a view to the general welfare and not as measures of national rivalry.

That railways, telegraph, and telephone lines, and all other common and necessary means of intercommunication be eventually nationalized.

That every human being in a country be conscripted to devote a certain part of his or her life to national service.

That both labor unions and combinations of capital be under strict government control, so that no irresponsible group may conspire against the commonwealth.

That every child receive training to equip him or her for self-support and intelligent citizenship.

That woman shall enjoy every right of citizenship.

That the civil shall always have precedence over the military authority.

And that the right of free speech, of a free press, and of assembly shall remain inviolate.

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