Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas. — Joseph Stalin

Germany and the Next War - F. Von Bernhardi



This is not a history book , but rather, a treatise on Prussian militarism published only a few years before the outbreak of the First World War. Written by one of the leading generals of the Prussian army it lays out the case for German military aggression in calm, reasoned, and "scientific" terms, justifying the expansion of the Prussian empire in terms of the inevitability of military conflict, Darwinian laws of nature, the superiority of the German race, and a progressive vision for the advancement of humankind. Many of the tenets of Berhardi's thesis are now rejected by Western intelligencia, but Prussia was widely admired by secular intellectuals in the pre-war era precisely for its boldness in advocating such "pragmatic" and "scientific" policies.

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Preface

All the patriotic sections of the German people were greatly excited during the summer and autumn of 1911. The conviction lay heavy on all hearts that in the settlement of the Morocco dispute no mere commercial or colonial question of minor importance was being discussed, but that the honour and future of the German nation were at stake. A deep rift had opened between the feeling of the nation and the diplomatic action of the Government. Public opinion, which was clearly in favour of asserting ourselves, did not understand the dangers of our political position, and the sacrifices which a boldly-outlined policy would have demanded. I cannot say whether the nation, which undoubtedly in an overwhelming majority would have gladly obeyed the call to arms, would have been equally ready to bear permanent and heavy burdens of taxation. Haggling about war contributions is as pronounced a characteristic of the German Reichstag in modern Berlin as it was in medieval Regensburg. These conditions have induced me to publish now the following pages, which were partly written some time ago.

Nobody can fail to see that we have reached a crisis in our national and political development. At such times it is necessary to be absolutely clear on three points: the goals to be aimed at, the difficulties to be surmounted, and the sacrifices to be made.

The task I have set myself is to discuss these matters, stripped of all diplomatic disguise, as clearly and convincingly as possible. It is obvious that this can only be done by taking a national point of view.

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

THE AUTHOR.

October, 1911

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