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"Deutschland Über Alles"
THERE is an element of mania in almost all that Germany has said and done since the outbreak of the war. The reasoning and conduct of her statesmen, her soldiers and civilians, of her learned men and common people, have been tinged with a specific excitement. They are all touched with a kind of temporary terreur. The final interview between the Imperial Chancellor and the British Ambassador betrayed the nerve-storm of Germany. The destruction of Louvain showed the same thing. The attempts to justify the brutality of Germany's conduct and to plead her cause indicate the same pathological condition; they are febrile.
If the reader will analyze any one of the following papers, written by the best minds in Germany, he will see that the apologist has never quite
made his point. The Kaiser and Hauptmann have not excused the burning of Louvain. Professors Eucken and Haeckel have not created the impression that they love America. The repre
sentatives of German art and science who proclaim that militarism has gone out in defence of culture, and that Germany is such a home for art "as it will never enjoy anywhere else," do not reassure and encourage us. On the contrary they leave upon our minds a sad impression.
There is a splinter of glass in the eyes of all these gentlemen, they are in great pain, they are in fear, they are in a state of fanatical exaltation. This war was inevitable. It broke out as the night-blooming cereus bursts into flower,-because the time had come. The war is the flaming forth of passions that have been covertly burning in Germany for several decades. Of recent years, one could hardly know any German family intimately without feeling in their pulses the warfever. The seed from which the red flower grew was the Franco-Prussian War. Since that time, Germany has been drunk with victory; and all the Germans have been waiting for new war, some of them patiently, others impatiently. The Imperial Government stimulated this passion which was, nevertheless, a deep popular impulse.
The mothers of Germany have been teaching the children at their knee that war was a sacrament. The young boys have looked forward to the day when they should draw the sword as to a first communion,-praying constantly that God might make them worthy to die for the Fatherland. When the great day came at last, and the nation heard that mobilization had actually been ordered, every man, from the Kaiser down, was beside himself with emotion. The race-madness, which each man had enjoyed as a sort of licensed inner excitement, now became the order of the day. With the blood-lust there was mingled a great panic, a horrible fear that the Fatherland might go under. Every German from the Kaiser down was in terror.
We must accept this dual state of mind in the Germans as the main feature of the present war,— the feature which distinguishes this war from other wars. There exists an hallucination in every German intelligence, and this hallucination must be allowed for at every moment by persons who hope to retain their own sanity while discussing the war. That horrible spectre at the back of the German army which looks to us like the spirit of extermination, is partly an emanation from the terror in the minds of sixty millions of
people who have been taught by their distinguished scholars during the last thirty years that war alone can save them from an awful fate; that a war, the most awful in history, is to be the salvation of their country.
It is to be noted that the German nation, since the days of the Arminius Schlacht, has always been ready to believe in war as its heritage, as its destiny, and as the solution of all its troubles. Germany never quite settled down as a part of the Roman Empire. She remained, at heart, a rebel. Anything that excited the brain of this people would be apt to arouse in it the latent war spirit; and the strain and stress of modern life,the novelty of finding that they were a nation, and one of the great nations of the world,-seems to have excited the Germans. The intellectual rigours and fatigues of the last thirty years, (which have been indeed the most stimulating and the most fatiguing years in human history,) seem to have played upon this new national Teutonic consciousness, and to have produced war. This war is instinctive with the Germans. There is no casus belli. The Germans admit and proclaim as much. The war is war for domination and for war's sake, and because war is somehow a need of nature. Herein lies the part that
makes us shudder. This is a war in terrorem; the necessity of extirpating the population of the enemy, and of destroying his property in order to terrify and to stun him, is acknowledged as axiomatic.
These are terrible doctrines, and the men who feed upon them become excited, become alarmed, become inwardly and permanently terrified. It is well known that the most humane and cultivated persons become, when frightened, capable of extraordinary cruelty; the most strong-minded and sensible men, turn, under the influence of fear, into feeble-minded and incompetent thinkers. The scientist, perhaps, becomes a fawning hound; the poet, a torturer; the soldier, an executioner; and every man a distorted copy of his true self. A passing reference to the French Revolution will explain to us the eternal relation that exists between fear and cruelty. The demons of the French Revolution were merely ordinary men made cruel through fear.
When we review Germany's conduct of the war by the light of these ideas we see why it was that Germany's diplomacy and public utterances, -the tone and temper of everything that any German has done since the war's outbreak,has been tinged with excess. Doctor Eliot and