Nations of Europe and the Great War - Charles Morris

Pan-Slavism Versus Pan-Germanism


Pan-slavism against Pan-Germanism was the issue which was launched when the Emperor of all the Russias took up Servia's quarrel with Austria-Hungary. Russia, if she wanted a ground for war, could have found no better one. The popularity of her aggressive big-brother attitude to all the Slavs was quickly attested in St. Petersburg. It had been a long time since war had appealed with the same favor to so large a part of the Czar's people. Slavs there were in plenty to menace the allied German Powers, even if there were not allied French arms, on Germany's other flank, and Britain's naval supremacy to cope with. Slavs in past times had spread over all of eastern Europe, from the Arctic to the Adriatic and the 1Egean Seas. Their continuity was long ago broken into by an intrusion of Magyars, Finns, and Roumanians, leaving a northern Slavic section composed of North Russians, Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks, and a southern section comprising the main body of the Balkan people. For over a thousand years these Slavs have peopled Europe east of the Elbe River. And for centuries they kept the hordes of Cossacks, Turks and barbarians off Europe. Russia in those days was called "the nation of the sword." And over a hundred years ago that sword was drawn for Servia. After 400 years of vassalage to Turkey, the Serbs rebelled in 1804, and then only Russian intervention saved them from defeat. In later wars oppression of the Slavs was a prominent issue.

[Illustration] from Europe and the Great War by Charles Morris


Russia's Part in the Servian Issue

What rendered the Russian menace so formidable at the opening of the 1914 war was the unusual enthusiasm which was displayed. Ordinarily, the huge population of Russia has been rather apathetic toward the purposes of the Emperor. But in the case of Austria's injustice to Servia the Czar, judging from the demonstrations in St. Petersburg, could reasonably count upon having behind him possibly 100,000,000 Slavs among his subjects. Moscow and Odessa gave similar demonstrations of good feeling, and it seemed as if, in the event of the Czar's assuming command as generalissimo of all the forces, the wave of enthusiasm would sweep over the whole empire. Who knows what is the strength of the Russian bear, once he is roused to sullen fury? In the ten years following the Russo-Japanese War Russia had greatly added to her army and navy, and materially cut down the time required for the mobilization of her forces by eliminating many of the difficulties attendant upon transportation and equipment of troops. Her quiet advances toward becoming a Power to be feared by the most formidable European nation had come to be recognized even if in a vague way.

In considering the potential strength of the armies which Russia, in the course of a long war, might put in the field, it may be pointed out that military service in that empire of more than 160,000,000 people is universal and compulsory. Service under the flag begins at the age of twenty and lasts for twenty-three years. Usually it is proportioned as follows: Three or four years in the active army, fourteen or fifteen in the Zapas, or first reserve, and five years in the Opolchenie, or second reserve. For the Cossacks, those fighters who are a conspicuous element of Russia's military strength, there is hardly a cessation in discipline during their early manhood. Holding their lands by military tenure, they are liable to service for life. Furnishing their own equipment and horses—the Cossack is almost invariably a cavalryman—they pass through three periods of four years each, with diminishing duties, until they wind up in the reserve, which is liable to be called into the field in time of war.

[Illustration] from Europe and the Great War by Charles Morris


Strength of the Russian Army

Russia's field army consists of three powerful divisions—the army of European Russia, the army of Asia, already referred to, and the army of the Caucasus. The European Russian field army consists of twenty-seven army corps—each corps comprising, at fighting strength, about 36,000 men—and some twenty-odd cavalry divisions, of 4,000 horsemen each. With the field army of the Caucasus and the first and second reserve divisions of the Cossacks, the total would be brought to nearly 1,600,000 men. With the Asiatic army, the grand total, according to the latest figures, would give the Russian armies a fighting strength of 1,850,000 men, of whom it would be practicable to assemble, say, 1,200,000 in a single theater of war. With respect to the armies which could be put in the field in time of urgent demand, there are conflicting estimates. It seems certain that Russia's war strength is more than 5,500,000 men, but, of course, the train service and the artillery for such a force is lacking. Two and three-quarter million men could probably be mustered at one time.

In the event of a prolonged war, in which the tide of affairs should put Russia strictly on the defensive, she would be less easily invaded than any large country of Europe. The very extent of her empire, protected by natural barriers at almost every side save where she touches Northeast Europe, would present almost insuperable difficulties to the invader. Napoleon paid dearly for his fortitude in pushing his columns into Moscow. The only conditions under which a repetition of such a feat is conceivable were not likely to be found during a general European struggle.

The Distribution of the Slavs

To make matters worse for the Austrian or German invader, there are conflicting relations between their own people and the Russians. The Polish provinces, for instance, however unfriendly toward Russia, as one of the dismemberers of the Polish kingdom, are strongly bound in blood and speech to the Russian nation. The Poles and Russians are brother Slavs, and are likely to remember this in any conflict which approaches an issue between Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism. The Poles of East Prussia have an ingrained hatred of their German masters and have been embittered by political oppression almost to the point of revolt. Those along Austria's eastern border are little less bitter.

The estimate is made that Europe contains in all about 140,000,000 Slavs, this being the most numerous race on the continent, the Teutons ranking second. While the great bulk of these are natives of Russia, they have penetrated in large numbers to the west and south, and are to be found abundantly in the Balkan region, in the Austrian realm, and in the region of the disintegrated kingdom of Poland.

According to recent authoritative statistics the race question in Austria-Hungary is decidedly complicated and diversified. In the kingdoms and provinces represented in the Reichsrath in Vienna there are nearly 10,000,000 Germans and 18,500,000 non-Germans. Of these nearly 17,500,000 are Slavs. Among these Slavs, the Croats and Serbs number 780,000, chiefly in Dalmatia, while there are in all 660,000 Orthodox and nearly 3,500,000 Greek Uniats.

In Hungary, with its subject kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia, there are 8,750,000 Magyars, 2,000,000 Germans, and 8,000,000 other non-Magyars. Of these, 3,000,000 are Roumanians and well over 5,000,000 Slavs. The Croats, or Roman Catholic Serbs, number 1,800,000, and their Orthodox brothers are 1,100,000 in number. All told, Hungary has nearly 11,000,000 Roman Catholic subjects, 2,000,000 Greek Uniats, and 3,000,000 Orthodox. In this connection it should be remembered that the Patriarchate of the Orthodox Serb Church has been fixed at Karlowitz, under Hungarian rule, for over two centuries.

In Bosnia there are 434,000 Roman Catholic Croats, 825,000 Orthodox Serbs, and over 600,000 Bosniaks, or Moslem Serbs. Thus it will be seen that the Emperor Francis Joseph rules over more than 24,000,000 Slavs and 3,225,000 Roumanians, of whom nearly 4,500,000 adhere to various Orthodox Churches and 5,400,000 are Uniats. Of this Slav mass 5,000,000 Poles, mostly Roman Catholics, are not particularly susceptible to Pan-Slav propaganda, as that is largely Russian and Orthodox.

Within the boundaries of Germany herself there are over 3,000,000 Slavs, chiefly Poles, the Slavs of Polish descent in all being estimated at 15,000,000. To these must be added the Bulgarians, Serbs and Montenegrins of the Balkan region, constituting about 7,000,000 more.

Origin of Pan-Slavism

The term Pan-Slavism has been given to the agitation carried on by a great party in Russia, its purpose being the union of the Slavic peoples of Europe under Russian rule, as an extensive racial empire. This movement originated about 1830, when the feeling of race relationship in Russia was stirred up by the revolutionary movement in Poland. It gained renewed strength from the Polish revolution of 1863, and still survives as the slogan of an ardent party. The ideals of Pan-Slavism have made their way into the Slavic populations of Bohemia, Silesia, Croatia and Slavonia, where there is dread of the members of the race losing their individuality under the aggressive action of the Austrian, German or Hungarian governments. In 187778 Russia entered into war against Turkey as the champion of the Balkan Slavs. A similar movement was that made in 1914, when the independence of the Servian Slavs was threatened by Austria. The immediate steps taken by Russia to mobilize her forces in protection of the Serbs was followed as immediately by a declaration of war on the part of the German emperor and the quick plunging of practically the whole of Europe into a war.

The Czar's Proclamation

In this connection the proclamation made by the Russian Czar to his people on August 3d, possesses much interest, as indicating his Slavic sentiment. The text is as follows:

"By the grace of God we, Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland, etc., to all our faithful subjects make known that Russia, related by faith and blood to the Slav peoples and faithful to her historical traditions, has never regarded their fate with indifference.

"But the fraternal sentiments of the Russian people for the Slavs have been awakened with perfect unanimity and extraordinary force in these last few days, when Austria-Hungary knowingly addressed to Servia claims unacceptable to an independent State.

"Having paid no attention to the pacific and conciliatory reply of the Servian Government and having rejected the benevolent intervention of Russia, Austria-Hungary made haste to proceed to an armed attack and began to bombard Belgrade, an open place.

"Forced by the situation thus created to take necessary measures of precaution, we ordered the army and the navy put on a war footing, at the same time using every endeavor to obtain a peaceful solution. Pourparlers were begun amid friendly relations with Germany and her ally, Austria, for the blood and the property of our subjects were dear to us.

"Contrary to our hopes in our good neighborly relations of long date, and disregarding our assurances that the mobilization measures taken were in pursuance of no object hostile to her, Germany demanded their immediate cessation. Being rebuffed in this demand, Germany suddenly declared war on Russia.

"Today it is not only the protection of a country related to us and unjustly attacked that must be accorded, but we must safeguard the honor, the dignity and the integrity of Russia and her position among the Great Powers. "We believe unshakably that all our faithful subjects will rise with unanimity and devotion for the defense of Russian soil; that internal discord will be forgotten in this threatening hour; that the unity of the Emperor with his people will become still more close and that Russia, rising like one man, will repulse the insolent attack of the enemy.

"With a profound faith in the justice of our work and with a humble hope in omnipotent providence in prayer we call God's blessing on holy Russia and her valiant troops.


Later than this was an appeal made by the Czar to the Poles under his rule, asking for their earnest support in the war arising from the cause above stated, and promising them the boon which the Polish people have long coveted: that of self-government and a practical acknowledgment of their national existence.

The Teutons of Europe

While the Slavs form the great bulk of the inhabitants of eastern Europe, the Teutons, or people of Teutonic race and language, are widely spread in the west and north, including the German-speaking people of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Switzerland, the English-speaking people of the British Islands, the Scandinavian-speaking people of Norway and Sweden, the Flemish-speaking people of Belgium, and practically the whole people of Denmark and Holland. Yet though these are racially related there is no such feeling as a Pan-Teutonic sentiment, combining them into a racial unity. Instead of community and fraternity, a considerable degree of enmity and rivalry exists between the several peoples named, especially between the British and Germans. Pan-Germanism is not Pan-Teutonism in any proper sense, being confined to the several German countries of Europe, and especially to the combination of separate states which constitutes the present German empire. It is the Teuton considered in this minor sense that has set himself against the Slav, as a measure of self-defense against the torrent of Slavism apparently seeking an outlet in all directions.

Prolific as we know the Anglo-Saxons to have once been and as the Germans still appear to be, there are few instances in human history of a natural growth of population like that of the Slavs in recent years. They have grown to outnumber the Germans nearly three to one, and may perhaps do so in the future in a still greater proportion.

This is a scarcely desirable state of affairs in view of the fact that the Slavs as a whole are lower and more primitive in character and condition than the Germans. The cultivated portion of Slavic populations forms a very small proportion in number of the whole, and stands far in advance of the abundant multitude of peasants and artisans, a vast body of people who are ruled chiefly by fear; fear of the State on one side, of the Church on the other.

Intermingling of Races

There has long been an embittered, remorseless, and often bloody struggle for supremacy between the Teuton and the Slav, yet there has been considerable intermingling of the races, many German traders making their way into Russian towns, while multitudes of Slavic laborers have penetrated into German communities. Eastern Prussia has large populations of Slavs, and its Polish subjects in Posen have been persistently non-assimilable. But only within recent times has there arisen a passion to "Russianize" all foreign elements in the one nation and on the other hand to "Germanize" all similar foreign elements in the other. Austria-Hungary is the most remarkable combination of unrelated peoples ever got together to make part of a state, and is especially notable for its many separate groups of Slavs. Bohemia, for instance, has a very large majority of Slavic population, eager to be recognized as such, and there are Slavic populations somewhat indiscriminately scattered throughout the dual-monarchy, especially in Hungary.

These Slavic populations, however, differ widely in religious belief. While largely of the Greek confession of faith, a considerable section of them are Roman Catholics, and many are faithful Mohammedans. This difference in religion plays a major part in their political relations, a greater one than any feeling of nationality and racial unity, and aids greatly in adding to the diversity of condition and sentiment among these mixed populations.

The Nations at War

In the war which sprang so suddenly and startlingly into the field of events in 1914 very little of this sentiment of race animosity appeared. While the German element remained intact in the union of Germany and Austria, there was a strange mingling of races in the other side of the struggle, that of the Slavic Russian, the Teutonic Britain, and the Celtic French. As for Italy, the non-Germanic member of the Triple Alliance, it at first wisely declared itself out of the war, as one in which it was in no sense concerned and under no obligation to enter into from the terms of its alliance. Later events tended to bring it into sympathy with the non-Germanic side, as a result of enmity to Austria. So the conflict became narrowed down to a struggle between Pan-Germanism on the one hand and a variety of unrelated racial elements on the other. It may be that Emperor William had a secret purpose to unite, if possible, all German-speaking peoples under his single sway and that Czar Nicholas had similar views regarding a union of the Slavs, but as they did not Jake the world into their confidence no one can say what plans and ambitions lay hidden in their mental treasure chests. In this connection it is certainly of interest that three of the leaders in this five-fold war were near relatives, the Czar, the Kaiser and the British King being cousins and all of Teutonic blood. This is a result of the inter-marriage of royal families in these later days.

Spread of Teutonic Civilization

We cannot better conclude this chapter than by quoting the following illuminating statement of the character and progress of the Teutonic civilization from the editorial pages of the Philadelphia North American:

"No greater fallacy was ever born of that mother of error, War, than that the present cataclysmic conflict in Europe is between Teutonic and Slavic civilizations. Ardent German patriots, stung to the soul by what appears to be universal sympathy with the forces allied against the two Kaisers, may well be pardoned for a judgment based more on soreness of heart than on historic facts. For those of our fellow-citizens whose roots go deep into the glorious soil of continental Germany we have only a profound tolerance, now that they eagerly seek to rally public opinion in support of the fatherland.

"We say 'continental Germany' because, after all, the empire of William II is only a small part of Germany. It was Hugo, that Frenchman of the encyclopedic mind, who called Germany the 'wellspring of nations.' 'They flow from her as rivers,' said he. 'She receives them as the sea.'

"And it is this very fact which controverts the assertion that this war is a conflict between Teuton and Slav. Such an assertion dismisses France and England as negligibles, or else classifies them as Slavic. Russia will undoubtedly prove to be an important factor in deciding the war. But that she will have a preponderant influence in shaping the future development of European intellect and ideals is unthinkable. Whether Russia be on the winning or the losing side, the effect of this war on her huge, inert bulk must necessarily be for liberalization. On the other hand, a victory for the Kaiser will undoubtedly result in strengthening the hands of autocracy by glorifying despotism in Germany and putting behind it the sentiment of the most efficient nation in the world.

"But, happily, this is not a conflict between Teutonic and Slavic civilizations. For Teutonic civilization is at least as accurately represented among the nations arrayed against the Kaiser as it is in the ideals which he seeks to impress on Europe. European civilization is essentially Teutonic. The hordes that came out of the Black Forest and erected a new social order on the decayed structure of the Roman empire did not keep their ideals between the Rhine and the Danube. Teutonic civilization passed into Gaul with the Franks, the conquering tribes who proudly blazoned their freedom in their name. This they gave to the nation which they built on the substructure of Gallic and Latin blood. Teutonic civilization overflowed northern Italy with the long-bearded warriors whose tribal designation has been corrupted into 'Lombardy.'

"Teutonic civilization crossed the Channel and laid the foundation of England. There it has been preserved in a purer state than in any other part of the globe, except in Scandinavia. The free ideals which England has spread broadcast throughout the world are her heritage from the Saxon freemen who founded a new Germany in Britain, while military despots did violence to German ideals in central Europe.

"There is no civilization worthy the name except Teutonic civilization. It fills Europe and America; it dominates Asia and Africa. Its seat is in London and Paris, and Rome and Brussels, and Copenhagen and Stockholm, and New York and Philadelphia, no less than in Berlin and Vienna. Because we inherit the blood of the Saxons or the Normans or the Franks or the Longobards we are all Germans; but more especially are we Germans because our most priceless heritage is the free ideals of those free men. It is idle, therefore, to talk of prejudice against Germans in this conflict. And it is equally futile to argue that Teutonic civilization is at stake in a war in which the most potent factors on either side are themselves the ripest product of that civilization watered by the most ancient German blood."

A presentation of the views of leading German-Americans will serve at least to show their loyalty to their Fatherland.

Views of German-Americans

As regards the inciting cause of the great conflict, German-American writers have been strongly disposed to consider it an Armageddon of the two great European races, the Slavic and Teutonic, despite the fact that Teutons and Slavs were united against the German nations, while the latter have hosts of Slavic subjects fighting in their cause. These critics appear inclined to set aside these seemingly inevitable results of the race mixture in Europe and the strength of political issues, commercial rivalries, and treaty obligations in dividing the nations of Europe into two great hostile bodies irrespective of the Slavic and Germanic question. But among the critics of the war were those who set aside these conditions as minor in actual importance, and saw looming up behind the apparent issues that of the battle for supremacy between the two great races, that destined to settle the question whether the Slavs or the Teutons were to become the ruling powers in Europe. This is the theory that has been maintained by the German-American writers referred to. Let us quote some of their views.

The president of the German-American Chamber of Commerce, of New York, has said:

"The only Power able to checkmate Russia is Germany, and therefore Germany is fighting the battle of civilization and of progress against reaction. . . . Strike down German military power and German prestige, and nothing but the Czar remains in Europe."

Professor Francke, of Harvard, declared that if Germany lost, "her place would be taken by Russia, which, with her teeming millions and inexhaustible resources, would become the arbiter of Europe."

"It is race treachery," said Dr. Ernst Richard, president of the German-American Peace Society, "for England to fight against Germany and for Russia. . . . The real cause of the war is: Shall Europe be ruled by Asiatics or by Europeans, by Slavs or by Teutons?"

Dr. Hugo Munsterberg, of Harvard, a personal friend of the Kaiser, wrote:

"All German good will for peace was doomed because the issue between the onrushing Slavic world and the German world had grown to an overpowering force. The struggle between the two civilizations was imminent. . . . At last the chance came to strike the long-delayed blow of the Slavic world against the German. Both Slavs and Germans are willing to sacrifice labor and life for the conservation of their national culture and their very existence."

General von Bernhardi, a noted German military leader, wrote three years ago:

"Russia feels herself the leading power of the Slavic races. Pan-Slavism is hard at work. . . . The coming war must be a war for our political and national existence."

In his manifesto to the world, as already given, the Czar proclaimed:

"Russia, related by faith and blood to the Slav peoples, and faithful to her historic traditions, has never regarded their fates with indifference. The fraternal sentiments of the Russian people for the Slavs have been awakened with perfect unanimity and extraordinary force."

The German Emperor took up the issue when he charged the strife to Russia's "insatiable nationalism," and exhorted his subjects to "remember, above all, that you are Germans."

These views are well worth presentation, as coming from men of marked culture and developed powers of thought. It is quite possible that they had come to look upon the possible as the actual. While animosity between Slav and German doubtless had to do with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, and the same animosity may have had some share in Austria's rigid demand upon Servia, apparently framed for the purpose of precipitating a war, the actual war propaganda rapidly spread to embrace other issues not included in this original race incentive.