Adolf Hitler's Zweites Buch
Chapter 6: Policies of the Second Reich
Among Bismarck's innumerable utterances there is hardly another which the bourgeois political world could have been more fond of quoting than the one that politics is the art of the possible. The smaller the political minds which had to administer the legacy of the great man, the greater the force of attraction this utterance possessed. For with this proposition, to be sure, they could embroider, indeed justify even the most wretched political bunglers, by simply appealing to the great man and trying to prove that, for the moment, it was impossible to do other than what was being done, that politics was the art of the possible, and that consequently they were acting with a Bismarckian spirit and in a Bismarckian sense. Thereby even a Herr Stresemann can receive some sort of an Olympian wreath to put around his head which, if not really Bismarckian, is at least bald. Bismarck had an exactly demarcated and clearly outlined political goal before his eyes. It is an impudence to want to saddle him with the idea that he achieved his life work only through an accumulation of specific political possibilities, and not through a mastery of specific momentary situations with an eye on a visualized political aim. This political aim of Bismarck was to:
Solve the German question through blood and iron
Eliminate the Habsburg Hohenzollern dualism
Form a new German Reich under Prussian Hohenzollern leadership
Arrange the highest possible external security of this Reich
Organise its inner administration on the Prussian model.
In the pursuit of this aim, Bismarck utilized every opportunity, and worked through the diplomatic art as long as it promised success; he threw the sword into the scales if force alone was in a position to bring about a decision. A master of politics, for whom the operational sphere extended from the parquet floors of drawing rooms to the blood soaked earth of battlefields.
Such was the master of the politics of possibilities.
His successors have neither a political aim nor even a political idea. In contrast to him they muddle through from today to tomorrow and from tomorrow to the day after, and then with conceited insolence quote that man--whom partly they themselves, partly their spiritual predecessors had occasioned the most difficult concerns and most bitter battles--in order to present their politically senseless and aimless, ruinous stammering as the art of the possible.
When, in his three wars, Bismarck set up the new Reich--all due, however, to his brilliant political activity--this was actually the highest achievement that could be realized at that time. But this was only the indispensable, necessary prerequisite for any future political representation of the vital interests of our Voelk. For without the creation of the new Reich, the German Voelk would have never discovered the power structure without which the fateful struggle could not be carried on in the future too. It was equally clear that at the outset the new Reich certainly had to be joined together on the battlefield, but that internally the component States first had to grow accustomed to each other. Years of adjustment had to pass before this consolidation of German States into a Union could in the first instance result in a real Federal State. This was when the Iron Chancellor discarded the cuirassier's boot in order then, with infinite cleverness, patience, and with a wise understanding and a wonderful sensitivity, to replace the pressure of Prussian hegemony by the power of trust. The achievement of making a coalition of States, formed on the battlefield, into a Reich interconnected in a touching love, belongs with the greatest ever brought about by the art of politics.
That Bismarck at first limited himself to this was just as much due to the wisdom of his insight, as it was the good fortune of the German Nation. These years of the inner peaceful construction of the new Reich were necessary, if one was not to succumb to a mania for conquest whose results would have been all the more uncertain, since the executive power within the Reich itself was still lacking in that homogeneity which would have been a prerequisite for the fusing of further territories.
Bismarck achieved his life goal. He solved the German question, eliminated the Habsburg Hohenzollern dualism, raised Prussia to German hegemony, subsequently united the Nation, consolidated the new Reich within the limits of the possible of that time, and worked out the military defense in such a way that this whole process of newly establishing the German Reich internally, which indeed necessarily took decades, could not be disrupted in essentials by anybody. Thus the more Bismarck could, as the aged old Reich Chancellor, look back on a finished life work, the less did this work signify the end of the life of the German Nation. Through Bismarck's founding of the new Reich, the German nation, after centuries of governmental decay, had again found an organic form which not only united the German Voelk, but also endowed this united Voelk with an expression of vigor which was as real as it was ideal. If the flesh and blood of this Voelk was the substance whose preservation in this world had to be sought, the instrument of power through which the Nation could henceforth again attend to its right to life in the framework of the rest of the world had come into being with the new Reich. The task of the post Bismarck period was to resolve what further step had to be taken in the interest of preserving the substance of the German Voelk.
Hence the further detailed political work depended on these decisions, which had to be of a fundamental character and which thereby signified the setting of a new goal. Hence this means: Just as Bismarck, as an individual man, had resolved to set a goal for his political action, which only then allowed him to act from situation to situation according to all possibilities, in order to arrive at this goal, so did the post Bismarck period also have to set itself a definite goal, as necessary as it was possible, whose achievement imperatively promoted the interests of the German Voelk, and for the achievement of which one could then likewise utilize all possibilities, beginning with the arts of diplomacy up to the art of war.
The setting of this goal, however, was left undone. It is not necessary, and indeed hardly possible, to specify all the causes of this neglect. The principal reason lies first of all in the lack of a really brilliant, towering political personality. But reasons which partly lie in the very nature of the founding of the new Reich weigh almost as heavily in the scales. Germany had become a democratic State, and even though the leaders of the Reich were subject to imperial decisions, nevertheless these decisions themselves could escape only with difficulty the impact of that general opinion which found its particular expression in the parliamentary institution, the makers of which were the political parties as well as the press, which in turn themselves received their ultimate instructions from a few recognizable wire-pullers. Thereby the interests of the nation receded more and more into the background in comparison to the interests of definite and special groups. This was all the more the case, since only little clarity on the real interests of the nation prevailed among the broadest circles of public opinion, whereas, conversely, the interests of definite political parties or of the newspaper world were much more concrete since Germany was now indeed a national State. But the concept of a national attitude was in the end only a purely governmental patriotic dynastic one. It had almost nothing to do with Voelkish insights. Hence a general vagueness prevailed as to the future and as to the directional goal of a future foreign policy. Viewed from a national standpoint, the next task of the State, after the completion of its inner State structure, should have been the resumption and the final achievement of national unity. No foreign policy aim could have been more obvious for the strictly formal national State of that time than the annexation of those German areas in Europe which, partly through their former history, had to be an obvious part not only of the German nation but of a German Reich. Nevertheless such an obvious goal had not been set because, apart from other resistances, the so called national concept was much too vague, little thought through and worked out, to be able to motivate such a step sufficiently by itself. To have kept in view and carried out, with all means, the incorporation of the German element of the old eastern frontier of the Reich as the next aim would have run counter to patriotic legitimist ideas, as well as counter to feelings of poorly defined sympathies.
The venerable House Of Habsburg, to be sure, would thereby have lost its throne. All beer table patriotism would also have been most grievously offended, but nevertheless this would have been the only reasonable next aim which the new Reich could set for itself--that is, from the point of view of a so called National State. Not only because through it Germans living in the area of the Reich would have considerably increased numerically, which naturally would have also been expressed militarily, but at that time we could have rescued that, the loss of which we deplore today. Had Germany herself joined in the partition of the impossible Habsburg State, indeed had she presented this partition to herself as her own political aim for national political reasons, Europe's whole development would have taken another path. Germany would not have made enemies out of a whole number of States which in themselves had nothing against Germany, and in the south the frontiers of the Reich would not run across the Brenner. At least the predominantly German part of the Southern Tyrol would be in Germany today.
But that this was prevented lay not only in the lack of a national concept at that time, but just as much in the definite interests of definite groups. Centrist circles under all circumstances desired a policy aimed at preserving the so called catholic Habsburg State, in connection with which they talked mendaciously about clan brothers, whereas they knew very well that in the Habsburg monarchy these clan brothers were slowly but surely being driven to the wall and robbed of their membership in the clan. But for the Center, German viewpoints were not a standard, indeed not even in Germany proper. The gentlemen were fonder of any Pole, any Alsatian traitor and Francophile than they were of the German who did not want to join such a criminal organization. Under the pretext of representing catholic interests, this party even in peacetime had lent a helping hand to harm and ruin the major bulwark of a real Christian world view, Germany, in all possible ways. And this most mendacious party did not even shrink from going arm in arm, in the closest friendship, with avowed deniers of god, atheists, blasphemers of religion, as long as they believed they could thereby harm the German National State and the German Voelk.
Thus in the establishment of the insane German foreign policy, the Center, the Christian catholic pious Center, had Jewish god denying Marxists as loving allies at its side.
For just as the Center did everything it could to protect itself against any anti Habsburg policy, the Social Democrats, as the then representatives of the Marxist world view, did exactly the same, albeit for other reasons. To be sure, the ultimate intention in both parties was the same: to harm Germany as much as possible. The weaker the State, the more unlimited becomes domination of these parties, and therefore the greater advantage to their leaders.
If the Old Reich wanted to resume the unification of the German element in Europe on the basis of national political viewpoints, then the dissolution of the Habsburg conglomeration of States, necessarily linked to it, entailed a new grouping of European powers. It was self evident that such a dissolution of the Habsburg State was inconceivable without entering into relations with other States which had to pursue similar interests. Thus a European coalition for the achievement of this goal, by pursuing all possibilities thereto, would automatically have come into being, which would have determined Europe's fate at least for the next decades.
To be sure, the Triple Alliance had first to be liquidated in fact. I say in fact, because in practice the liquidation had already been accomplished long ago.
The alliance with Austria had a real meaning for Germany as long as through this alliance she could hope to get additional power in the hour of danger. It became senseless from the moment in which the additional power was smaller than Germany's military burden brought about by this alliance. Properly considered, this was the case from the very first day of the Triple Alliance, if, for example, Russia were to become Germany's enemy in consequence of this Alliance, or on the basis of this Alliance. Bismarck had also pondered this most scrupulously and therefore saw himself induced to conclude the so called Reinsurance Treaty with Russia. Briefly, the sense of the Reinsurance Treaty was that, if Germany should be pushed into a conflict with Russia through the Alliance, she would drop Austria. Thus Bismarck had already perceived the problematic importance of the Triple Alliance in his time, and, in accordance with his art of the possible, he had taken the necessary precautions to meet all circumstances.
In its time, this Reinsurance Treaty contributed to the banishment of the greatest German statesman of our age. As a matter of fact, the situation feared by Bismarck had already arisen in the beginning of the 1890s after the occupation of Bosnia by Austria-Hungary, and in consequence of the powerfully inflamed Pan Slav movement arising therefrom. The alliance with Austria had brought enmity with Russia.
This enmity with Russia, however, was the reason why Marxists, even though they were not in accord with German foreign policy, nevertheless in reality used every means to make another one impossible.
Thus Austria's relation to Italy as such always remained the same. Formerly Italy had entered the Triple Alliance as a precaution against France, but not out of love for Austria. On the contrary, Bismarck even here had correctly perceived the inner cordiality of the Italian Austrian relationship when he asserted that there were only two possibilities between Austria and Italy: either an alliance or war. In Italy--aside from a few Francophile fanatics--a real sympathy existed only for Germany. And this was also understandable. It speaks for the completely bottomless lack of political training and the political ignorance of the German Voelk, especially of its so called bourgeois national intelligentsia, that they believed they could carry over the Triple Alliance, based on political law, to the sphere of friendly inclinations. This was not even the case between Germany and Austria, for even here the Triple Alliance, or more correctly, the alliance with Germany, was humanly anchored only in the hearts of a relatively small part of the Germans in Austria. The Habsburg’s would have never made their way to the Triple Alliance if any other possibility of preserving their corpse of a State had existed. When in the July days of 1870 the German Voelk were inflamed with indignation over France's unprecedented provocations and hastened to the old battlefields in defense of the German Rhine, in Vienna it was hoped that the hour to revenge Sadowa had come.
Conferences followed one another in rapid succession, one crown council alternated with another, couriers flew hither and thither, and the first call up of the reserves was issued when suddenly, to be sure, the first communiqués from the theatres of war also began to arrive. And when Weissenburg was followed by a Wörth, and Wörth by a Gravelotte, a Metz, a Mars la Tour, and finally a Sedan, then the Habsburg’s, under the pressure of the suddenly released clamor of the new German opinion, first began to discover their German heart. If at that time Germany had lost only the first battles, the Habsburg’s, and with them Austria, would have done the very thing for which they later greatly reproached Italy. And that which, moreover, they not only intended to do in the World War for the second time, but actually perpetrated as the basest betrayal of the State which had unsheathed its sword for them. For the sake and on account of this State, Germany had taken the worst bloody hardships upon herself, and she was betrayed not only in a thousand individual cases by this State, but finally by the representative of the State himself, all things and truths about which our bourgeois national patriots prefer to keep silent, in order to be able to shriek against Italy today. When later the House Of Habsburg crept into the Triple Alliance, it was really only because without the Triple Alliance this House would long ago have been swept to where it finds itself today. When I once more examine the sins of this House in the history of the German Voelk, to me it seems distressing that this time the mills of god were propelled by forces which lay outside the German Voelk.
But thus the Habsburg’s also had every reason to want the alliance, especially with Germany, because this alliance in reality indeed surrendered Germanism in Austria. The denationalization policy of the Habsburg’s in Austria, their Czechisation and Slavisation of German elements, would have never become possible, if the Reich itself had not held its moral shield over it. Because what right did the German Austrian have to protest, and on national grounds, against a State policy to which corresponded the quintessence of the German national idea, as it was embodied in the Reich for the German Austrian? And, conversely, could Germany now exert any pressure at all to prevent the slow de Germanization in Austria, if after all the Habsburg’s themselves were the allies of the Reich? We must know the weakness of the political leaders of the Reich in order to know that anything else would sooner have been possible rather than an attempt to exercise a real energetic influence on the ally which would have affected her domestic affairs. The wily Habsburg’s knew this well, just as, in general, Austrian diplomacy was toweringly superior to the German in artfulness and craftiness. And, conversely, these very Germans, as though stricken with blindness, seemed not to have the remotest idea of events and conditions inside the country of their ally. Only the War may have opened the eyes of most people.
Thus the very alliance based friendship of the Habsburg’s for Germany was all the more fateful since, through it, the ultimate undermining of the prerequisite for this alliance was guaranteed. For now that the Habsburg’s were in a position to wipe out Germanism in Austria at their leisure and without having to worry about German interference, the worth of this whole alliance for Germany herself became increasingly problematic. What meaning should an alliance have for Germany which was not earnestly intended by the ruling house -- for the House Of Habsburg had never thought to regard German interests as taken for granted in the matter of the alliance, so that the few real friends of this alliance perforce slowly fell prey to de Germanization. For in the rest of Austria the alliance was viewed with indifference at best, but in most cases it was inwardly hated. In the period of the last twenty years before the War, the metropolitan press in Vienna was already much more oriented along pro French rather than pro German lines. The press of the Slavic provinces, however, was deliberately hostile to Germany. In proportion as Slavism was culturally fostered to the utmost by the Habsburg’s, and now acquired focal points of its own national culture in their capitals, it also gave rise to centers having a special political will of their own. It is an historical punishment for the House Of Habsburg not to have seen that one day this national hatred, which was first mobilized against the Germans, would devour the Austrian State itself. But for Germany the alliance with Austria became especially senseless the moment when, thanks to the influence of the German Austrian Marxists, treasonable to the Voelk, so called universal suffrage finally broke the hegemony of Germanism in the Austrian State. For actually indeed the Germans numbered only a third of the population of Cisleithania, that is, of the Austrian half of the Austrian Hungarian State. Once universal suffrage became the foundation of Austrian parliamentary representation, the situation of the Germans became hopeless, the more so since the clerical parties wanted a deliberate representation of the national viewpoints as little as did the Marxists, who deliberately betrayed them. The same Social Democrats who today hypocritically talk about Germanism in the Southern Tyrol betrayed and sold out Germanism in old Austria in the most shameless way at every opportunity that offered itself. They always stood on the side of the enemies of our Voelk. The most impertinent Czech arrogance has always found its representatives in so called German Social Democracy. Every oppressive act directed against Germany found their approbation. And every example of a German deterioration saw the German Social Democrats as collaborators. Under such circumstances what could Germany still expect from a State whose political leadership, insofar as it was specifically expressed in parliament, was four fifths consciously and deliberately anti German?
The advantages of the alliance with Austria lay really only on Austria's side, whereas Germany had to bear the disadvantages. And these were not few.
The nature of the Austrian State entailed that a whole number of surrounding States had Austria's dissolution in view as the goal of their national policy. For what post Bismarckian Germany was never able to bring about had been done by even the smallest Balkan States; namely, setting a definite foreign policy goal, which they tried to achieve with, and according to, all the possibilities at hand. All these to some extent freshly arisen national States, lying on Austria's borders, saw their highest future political task as the liberation of the racial comrades who ethnically belonged to them, but who lived under the scepter of Austria and the Habsburg’s. It was self evident that this liberation could take place only through military action. Likewise that this must necessarily lead to Austria's dissolution. The Austrians' own power of resistance constituted an obstacle to this all the less so as they were dependent primarily on those who were to be liberated. In case of a coalition war of Russia, Rumania, and Serbia against Austria, the Northern Slav and Southern Slav elements would fall from the outset outside the frame of Austrian resistance, so that at best Germans and Magyars would remain as the bearers of the main struggle. Now, experience shows that the elimination of specific fighting forces on Voelkish grounds leads to disintegration and thus to a complete paralysis of Austria's front. By herself Austria would have been able to offer only little resistance to such a general offensive war. This was known in Russia as well as in Serbia, and very well known in Rumania Thus what really supported Austria was only her mighty ally, on whom she was able to steady herself. But what was more natural than that by this time the idea should form in the brains of the leading anti Austrian statesmen, as well as in public opinion, that the way to Vienna must lead through Berlin?
The more States there were which fancied to inherit Austria and could not do so in consequence of the military partnership, all the more were the States which Germany herself necessarily incurred as enemies.
At the turn of the century the weight of these enemies, set against Germany because of Austria, was already several times greater than the possible armed help that Austria could ever furnish Germany. Thus the inner meaning of this alliance policy was converted exactly into its opposite.
The matter was complicated still further by the third member of the alliance, Italy. As has already been mentioned, Italy's relation to Austria was never a matter of cordiality, and hardly one of reason, but actually only the result and the consequence of an overwhelming necessity. The Italian Voelk primarily, and the Italian intelligentsia, were always able to rally sympathy for Germany. At the turn of the century every ground already existed for an alliance of Italy with Germany alone. The opinion that Italy as such would be a faithless ally is so stupid and dumb that armchair politicians can serve it only to our nonpolitical so called national bourgeoisie. The most shattering counter-proof is provided by the history of our own Voelk, namely, the time when Italy had once been allied with Germany against Austria, of course. To be sure, the Germany of that time was the Prussia led by Bismarck's genius, and not that led by the political incapacity of the later bunglers of the mishandled Reich. Certainly the Italy of that time had suffered defeats in battles on land and sea, but she honorably fulfilled the obligations of her alliance, as Austria did not do in the World War, into which she had pushed Germany. For at that time, when Italy was offered a separate peace which would have given her everything which she was able to achieve only later, she proudly and indignantly rejected it despite the military defeats she had suffered, whereas the Austrian government leaders not only coveted such a separate peace, but were ready to drop Germany completely. If this did not come to pass, the reason for it did not lie in the Austrian State's strength of character but rather in the nature of the demands which the enemy made upon her and which in practice signified her disintegration. The fact that Italy suffered military defeats in 1866 could not really be viewed as a sign of faithlessness to the alliance. For certainly she would have preferred gathering victories to defeats, but the Italy of that time could not indeed be compared to Germany then and even later, because she lacked that very superior power of military crystallization which Germany had in Prussia. A German Union without the base of the Prussian military power would have identically succumbed to the attack of so old and not yet nationally dismembered a military power such as Austria possessed, as was the case with regard to Italy. But the essential thing lay in the fact that the Italy of that time made possible the decision in Bohemia in favor of the later German Reich, by tying up a considerable and great part of the Austrian army. For whoever bears in mind the critical situation on the day of the battle of Königgrätz cannot assert that it would have been a matter of indifference to Germany's fate, whether Austria had been on the battlefield with an additional 140000 men, as she could have done on the strength of Italian commitment.
That naturally the Italy of that time did not conclude this alliance in order to make possible the national unity of the German Voelk, but rather that of the Italians, is understood. It really requires the proverbial political naivete of a patriotic leaguer to be able to see cause for reproach or for slander in that. The idea of obtaining an alliance which from the outset possesses only prospects of success or gain is a childish stupidity. For the Italians had exactly the same right to make the same reproach to the Prussia of that time and to Bismarck himself, namely, that they had concluded the alliance not for love of Italy but also in pursuit of their own interests.
Unfortunately, I am inclined to say, it is humiliating that this stupidity is committed only north of the Alps and not also to the south of them.
Such a stupidity becomes understandable only if we consider the Triple Alliance, or better still, the alliance between Germany and Austria, which really is a rare case wherein one State, Austria, obtains everything from an alliance and the other, Germany, nothing at all. An alliance in which one party stakes its interests and the other its shining armor. The one has a cold purposefulness and the other a Nibelungen loyalty. At least this has happened only once in history to such an extent and in this way, and Germany has received the most terrible returns for this kind of political State leadership and alliance policy.
Thus if the alliance with Italy, insofar as it concerned Austria's relation with Italy, was of the most dubious value from the outset, this was not so much because with Italy, say, it could involve a fundamentally wrong partner, but because for Italy this very alliance with Austria did not promise a single reciprocal value.
Italy was a national State. Her future necessarily had to lie on the shores of the Mediterranean. Thus every neighboring State is more or less an obstacle for the development of this national State. If in addition we take into account that Austria herself had over 800000 Italians within her borders, and further that these same Habsburg’s--who on the one hand surrendered the Germans to Slavisation, on the other hand understood very well how to play Slavs and Germans against Italians--had every interest in slowly denationalizing these 800000 Italians, then the future task of Italian foreign policy was hardly in doubt. It had to be an anti Austrian one, as pro German as it could be. And this policy also found the liveliest support, indeed a glowing enthusiasm, among the Italian Voelk itself. For the wrongs that the Habsburgers--and Austria was their political weapon for this--had committed against Italy in the course of the centuries, seen from an Italian viewpoint, cried out to heaven. For centuries Austria had been the obstacle to Italy's unification; again and again the Habsburg’s had supported corrupt Italian dynasties; indeed even at the turn of the century hardly a party congress of the clerical and Christian social movement closed with anything but a demand that Rome be restored to the Holy Father. No bones were made about the fact that this was regarded as a task of Austrian policy; but on the other hand they had the impertinence to expect that people in Italy perforce exhibit a ringing enthusiasm over the alliance with Austria. Thus Austrian policy toward Italy in the course of the centuries had by no means always used kid gloves. What France had been for centuries to Germany, Austria was for centuries to Italy. The northern Italian lowlands were always the field of operations on which the Austrian State showed its policy of friendship toward Italy. Croatian regiments and Panduren were the culture-bringers and bearers of Austrian civilization, and it is a pity that all this has, in part, also clung to the German name. If today we frequently hear an arrogant deprecation, indeed a contemptuous insulting of German culture on Italian lips, then for this the German Voelk must thank that State which was camouflaged as German on the outside, but which exposed the character of its inner being to the Italian through a coarse soldiery who in their own Austrian State were viewed by the beneficiaries thereof as a true scourge of god. The battle fame of the Austrian Army was in part built on successes which necessarily aroused the undying hatred of the Italians for all time.
It was a misfortune for Germany never to have understood this, a misfortune, on the contrary, to have covered it up indirectly, if not directly. For thus did Germany lose the State which, as matters then stood, could have become our most loyal ally, as it once had been a very dependable ally for Prussia.
Thus the attitude of the broadest public opinion in Austria on the occasion of the war in Tripoli was especially decisive for Italy's inner relation to Austria. That Vienna should look askance at the Italian attempt to set foot in Albania was still understandable in view of the state of affairs. Austria thought her own interests were being threatened there. But the general and decidedly artificial incitement against Italy when the latter set out to conquer Tripoli was incomprehensible. The Italian step, however, was self-evident. No man could blame the Italian Government if it attempted to carry the Italian flag to areas, which by their very location had to be the acknowledged colonial area for Italy. Not only because the young Italian colonists fell into the footsteps of the ancient Romans, but the Italian action should have been welcome precisely to Germany and Austria for still another reason. The more Italy was engaged in North Africa, the more the natural oppositions between Italy and France would perforce one day develop. A superior German State leadership, at least, should have sought with all means to create difficulties for the threatening spread of French hegemony over North Africa, and in general to the French opening up of the Dark Continent, even in consideration of the possible military strengthening of France also on European battlefields. For the French governments, and especially their military leaders, left no doubt at all that for them the African colonies actually had another importance other than just being showpieces of French civilization. For a long time they had already seen in them a reservoir for soldiers for the next European contest of arms. That this could take place only with Germany was likewise clear. What would have been more natural, then, from a German point of view than to favor every interference of another power, especially if this other power was her own ally. Moreover, the French nation was sterile and had no need for enlarging its living space, whereas the Italian Voelk, exactly like the German, had to find a way out somewhere. Let no one say that this would have involved a theft committed against Turkey. For then all colonies are indeed stolen areas. Only, without them the European cannot live. We had no interest, and should not have had any, in bringing about an estrangement with Italy out of a completely unreal sympathetic feeling for Turkey. If ever there was a foreign political action in which Austria and Germany could have fully stood behind Italy, this was precisely it. It was simply scandalous how the Austrian press of that time, indeed all public opinion, behaved toward an Italian action whose ultimate aim was nothing but the annexation of Bosnia Herzegovina by Austria herself. A hate suddenly flared up at that time which showed the real inner disposition of this Austrian Italian relation all the more clearly, since there had been no actual grounds for it at all. I was in Vienna at that time and was inwardly disgusted by the stupid as well as shameless way in which the ally was stabbed in the back then. Thus, under such circumstances, to demand from this very ally a loyalty that in reality would have been Italy's suicide, is at least as incomprehensible as it is naive. For in addition there is the following: Italy's natural military geographical situation will always force this State to formulate a policy which does not bring it into conflict with a superior naval power, to which the Italian fleet and fleets allied with it would not be in a position, human foresight indicates, to put up any resistance.
As long as England possesses uncontested supremacy on the seas, and as long as this hegemony can still be strengthened by a Mediterranean French fleet, without Italy and her allies being able to make a promising resistance, Italy can never assume an anti-English attitude. We must not demand from the leaders of a State that, out of an idiotic sympathy for another State whose reciprocal love had been clearly shown precisely by the war in Tripoli, they end by surrendering their own Voelk to certain destruction. Anyone who subjects the coastal conditions of the Italian State to the most cursory examination must immediately arrive at the conviction that a struggle against England on Italy's part under prevailing circumstances is not only hopeless but absurd. Thus Italy found herself in exactly the same situation as Germany had likewise found herself; namely, just as for Bismarck, once the risk of war with Russia, caused by Austria, appeared so monstrous to him that in such an eventuality he committed himself, through the famous Reinsurance Treaty, to disregard the matter of the otherwise existing alliance, likewise for Italy the alliance with Austria was also untenable the moment she made an enemy of England as a result of it. Anyone who does not want to grasp or understand this is incapable of thinking politically, and therefore, at best, capable of making policy in Germany. But the German Voelk sees the result of the policy of this sort of people before it, and must bear the consequences.
All these are aspects that had to lower the value of the alliance with Austria to a minimum. For it was thereby certain that Germany, because of her alliance with Austria, would also presumably make enemies, besides Russia, of Rumania, Serbia and Italy. For, as has been said, there is no alliance that can be built on the basis of ideal sympathies or ideal loyalty or ideal gratitude. Alliances will be all the stronger, the more the individual contracting parties may hope to derive private advantages from them. It is fantastic to wish to form an alliance on any other basis. I would never expect Italy to enter into an alliance with Germany out of sympathy for Germany, out of love for Germany, with the intention of thereby procuring an advantage for Germany. Just as little would I ever want to enter into a contractual relationship out of love for another State, out of sympathy for it, or out of a desire to serve it. If today I advocate an alliance between Italy and Germany, I do so only because I believe that both States can thereby achieve useful advantages. Both States would prosper as a result.
The advantage of the Triple Alliance lay exclusively on Austria's side. Certainly, in consequence of the determining factors in the policy of the individual States, only Austria could be the beneficiary of this alliance. For by its whole nature the Triple Alliance had no aggressive tendency. It was a defensive alliance which at the utmost, according to its provisions, was only supposed to safeguard the preservation of the STATVS QVO. Germany and Italy, in consequence of the impossibility of feeding their populations, were compelled to pursue an aggressive policy. Only Austria had to be happy to preserve at least the corpse of a State which, in itself, was already impossible. Since Austria's own defensive power would never have sufficed for this, through the Triple Alliance, the offensive forces of Germany and Italy were harnessed in the service of maintaining the Austrian State. Germany remained in the harness and thereby perished, Italy leapt out of it and saved herself. Only a man for whom politics is not the duty of preserving the life of a Voelk with all means and according to all possibilities could want to censure such an action.
Even if Old Germany as a formal National State had set herself only the further unification of the German Nation as a goal, the Triple Alliance should perforce have been dropped instantaneously, respectively the relation with Austria changed. She would thereby have been spared from incurring a number of enmities which in no way could be compensated by the employment of Austrian strength. Thus even pre War Germany should no longer have let her foreign policy be determined by purely formal national viewpoints, if these did not lead to necessary Voelkish goals.
Already in the pre War period, the future of the German Voelk was a question of solving the problem of their sustenance. The German Voelk could no longer find their daily bread within their existing territory. All industry and competence, as well as all scientific methods of soil cultivation, could at best alleviate the distress somewhat, but ultimately they could not prevent it. Even in the years of exceptionally good harvests they no longer could completely cover their own food requirements. During average or bad harvests they were already dependent on imports to a considerable degree. Even the raw material supply of many industries ran into serious difficulties, and could be procured only abroad.
There were various ways to overcome this distress. Emigration and birth control had to be categorically rejected even from the standpoint of the National State of that time. In this case the knowledge of biological consequences was less decisive than the fear of numerical decimation. Thus, for the Germany of that time, only two possibilities existed for securing the nation's preservation for a future time without having to limit the population itself. Either an effort had to be made to solve the need for space, that is, to acquire new soil, or the Reich had to be converted into a great export firm. This meant that the production of certain commodities was to be increased beyond domestic needs, in order to be able to exchange them for foodstuffs and raw materials by way of export. The knowledge of the necessity of an enlargement of German living area existed, albeit at least partly at that time. It was believed that the best way to act in this sense was to lead Germany into the ranks of the great colonial Voelks.
In reality, however, a flaw in the inner logic was already present in the form of the execution of this idea. For the sense of a sound territorial policy lies in the fact that a Voelk's living space is enlarged by allotting new areas for settlement to the surplus of the population which, then, if it is not to take on the character of an emigration, must be in close political and governmental relation with the mother country. This no longer applied to the colonies which were still at all available at the end of the nineteenth century.
Their distance in space as well, particularly as the climatic conditions of these areas by themselves prevented settlement such as the English had previously been able to carry out in their American colonies, the Dutch in South Africa, and again the English in Australia. Added to this was the whole character of the inner establishment of German colonial policy. Thereby the problem of settlement receded entirely into the background in order to put in their place business interests which were identical with the general interests of the German Voelk only in the smallest measure. Thus from the beginning the value of German colonies lay more in the possibility of obtaining certain markets, which by providing different colonial products and partly also raw materials, would make the German economy independent of foreign countries. This would have surely succeeded up to a certain degree in the future, but it would not in the least have resolved the problem of Germany's overpopulation, unless it was decided to guarantee the sustenance of the German Voelk fundamentally through an increase of its export economy. Then naturally the German colonies, through the more favorable delivery of raw materials, could one day give the different industries a greater capacity to compete on the international markets. Thus German colonial policy in the deepest sense was indeed no territorial policy, but had become an instrument of German economic policy. Actually, even the numerically direct relief of German internal overpopulation through the settlement of the colonies was completely insignificant.
If in addition one wanted to go over to a real territorial policy, then the colonial policy pursued before the War was all the more senseless, as it could not lead to a relief of German overpopulation. Conversely, however, one day, all human foresight indicates, its very execution necessitated the same staking of blood as would have been required in the worst cases for a really useful territorial policy. For while this kind of German colonial policy in the most favorable situation could bring only a strengthening of the German economy, one day it had to become a cause for a physical conflict with England. For a German world economic policy could never avoid a decisive struggle with England. Export industry, world trade, colonies and merchant marine had then to be protected with the sword from that power which, for the same viewpoint of self preservation as Germany's, had long ago seen itself forced to embark upon this path. Therefore, this peaceful economic struggle for the conquest of a place in the sun could take place for just as long as England could count on bringing about the collapse of German competition with purely economic means, because then we would never emerge from the shade. But if Germany succeeded in pushing England back in this peaceful economic way, it was self evident that the resistance of bayonets would replace the phantom of this peaceful economic conquest of the world.
Without doubt, it was, however, a political idea to allow the German Voelk the increase of its number through the increase of industrial production and sale on the international world market. This idea was not Voelkish, but it corresponded to the prevailing ideas of the bourgeois national world of that time. This way could be traveled in any case, only it then placed a wholly definite and narrowly outlined duty on German foreign policy: the end of German world trade policy could only be war with England. But then the task of German foreign policy was to arm itself, through farseeing alliance measures, for a conflict with a State which on the basis of an experience of more than a hundred years itself would not neglect to bring about a general mobilization of allied States. If Germany wanted to defend her industrial and economic policy against England, then she first had to seek to cover her rear with Russia. Russia then was the only State that could be considered a valuable ally, because she alone had no need to be essentially opposed to Germany, at least for the moment. To be sure the selling price for this Russian alliance, as matters stood, could lie only in giving up the alliance with Austria. For then the dual alliance with Austria was madness, indeed insanity. Only when Germany's rear was completely covered by Russia could she pass over to a maritime policy which deliberately aimed at the day of reckoning. Only then could Germany also commit the enormous means necessary for the completion of a fleet that, not being up to date in all details, lagged five years behind, especially in speed and thereby displacement.
But the entanglement in the Austrian alliance was so great that a solution could no longer be found, and Russia, which had begun to orient herself anew after the Russian Japanese war, had to be repelled for good. But thereby the whole German economic and colonial policy was a more than dangerous game. The fact was that Germany indeed also shunned the final settlement with England, and accordingly for years her attitude was determined by the principle of not antagonizing the adversary. This determined all German decisions which would have been necessary for the defense of German economic and colonial policy, until, on August 4th, 1914, the English declaration of war brought an end to this unfortunate period of German blindness.
Had Germany of that time been ruled less by bourgeois national than by Voelkish viewpoints, only the other path to a solution of German distress would have been considered, namely, that of a large scale territorial policy in Europe itself.
Hence the German colonial policy which necessarily had to bring us into conflict with England, whereby France could always be regarded as siding with the enemy, was especially unreasonable for Germany because our European base was weaker than any other colonial Voelk of world political importance. For ultimately the fate of the colonies was obviously decided in Europe. In consequence every German foreign policy was directed primarily toward strengthening and safeguarding Germany's military position in Europe. Thus we could expect only little decisive help from our colonies. Conversely, every broadening of our European territorial base automatically would have led to a strengthening of our position. It is not the same, if a Voelk has a closed area of settlement of 560000, or, let us say, one million square kilometers. Wholly apart from the difficulty, in the case of war, of sustenance, which should remain as independent as possible from the effects of enemy action, military protection already resides in the size of the territory, and to that extent our operations, which force us to wage wars on our own soil, will be considerably easier to bear.
In general, then, a certain defense against rash attacks lies in the size of a State territory.
Above all, however, only through a territorial policy in Europe can the human resources shifted there be preserved for our Voelk, including their military utilization. An additional 500000 square kilometers in Europe can provide new homesteads for millions of German peasants, and make available millions of soldiers to the power of the German Voelk for the moment of decision.
The only area in Europe that could be considered for such a territorial policy therefore was Russia. The thinly settled western border regions that already once had received German colonists as bringers of culture, could likewise be considered for the new territorial policy of the German Nation. Therefore the aim of German foreign policy unconditionally had to be to free its rear against England and conversely to isolate Russia as much as possible. Then, with a dauntless logic, we had to give up our economic and world trade policy, and if necessary completely give up the fleet, in order to concentrate the nation's whole strength again on the Land Army as once before. Then, more than ever, the alliance with Austria had to be dropped, for nothing more would stand in the way of an isolation of Russia than a State whose defense was guaranteed by Germany, whose partition was desired by a whole number of European powers, but which they would have been able to carry out only in an alliance with Russia. Since these States had recognized in Germany the greatest defense of Austria's preservation, all the more were they forced to be against Russia's isolation, as the Czarist Empire more than ever could appear to them as the only possible power factor for the final destruction of Austria.
It was obvious, however, that all these States especially could not wish for a strengthening of Austria's only defense at the cost of the strongest enemy of the Habsburg State.
For in this case, too, France would have always sided with Germany's enemy, the possibility of forming an anti German coalition would always have been present, unless we decided to liquidate the alliance with Austria at the end of the century, and surrender the Austrian State to its fate, but thereby save the German areas for the Reich. Something different happened. Germany wanted world peace. Therefore she avoided a territorial policy which as such could only have been fought out aggressively, and ultimately turned to a limitless economic and trade policy. We thought to conquer the world with peaceful economic means, and thereby we supported ourselves neither on one nor another power, but instead clung all the more doggedly to the dying Habsburg State the more a general political isolation resulted therefrom. Broad circles within Germany welcomed this, partly out of real political incompetence and also partly out of wrongly understood patriotic legitimist ideas, and finally also partly in the hope, still nourished, that the hated Hohenzollern Empire could one day be thereby led to collapse.
When the World War burst forth blood-red on August 2nd, 1914, the pre War alliance policy had as a matter of fact already suffered its actual defeat. In order to help Austria, Germany had been pushed into a war which then was to revolve only around her own existence. Her enemies were the adversaries of her world trade as well as of her general greatness altogether, and those who were awaiting the fall of Austria. Her friends, the impossible Austrian Hungarian State structure on the one side and the constantly weak and ailing Turkey on the other. Italy, however, took the step that Germany perforce should have taken and carried out herself, had her destiny been guided by the genius of a Bismarck instead of weak philosophers and bragging hurrah!-patriots. The fact that later Italy finally undertook an offensive against a former ally, again merely matched Bismarck's prophetic foresight, namely, that only two conditions could exist at all between Italy and Austria: an alliance or war.
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