THE ENGLISH OCTOPUS & THE GERMAN LEAGUES

A RECAPITULATION OF COUSINS AT ODDS BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

The 1908 Daily Telegraph interview with German Emperor William II made His Highness look like a political moron. The Kaiser and his English confidants had foolishly expected the interview, expressing peaceful intentions towards England, to make a favorable impression on the English, whose lion-hearted tempers, provoked by jingo journalism, were almost at the boiling point. Publication of the pacific interview was nearly suppressed by chauvinists in the British government. Of course the jingo press was outraged by the Interview. Still many members of parliament were amused by the Kaiser’s obvious attempt to kiss the proverbial ass by claiming that he had always been England's best friend, and that he had won the Boer War for her by giving her good advice consisting of irrelevant maxims, including one about a football match. In Germany the general mood was definitely au contraire; as in England, especially rankled were the militarists and their press organs. And since the newspapers were gospel to many Germans, the public relations gaffe embarrassed even those who were devoted to the Kaiser as if he were divinity incarnate, just as Caesar was touted to be in his glory. "I have said time after time," the Kaiser reiterated in the Interview, "that I am friend of England, and your press - or, at least, a considerable section of it - bids the people of England refuse any
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proffered hand and insinuates that the other holds a dagger. How can I convince a nation against its will? I repeat that I am a friend of England, but you make things difficult for me. My task is not of the easiest. The prevailing sentiment among large sections of the middle and lower classes of my own people is not friendly to England. I am, therefore, so to speak, in a minority in my own land, but it is a minority of the best elements as it is in England with respect to Germany." The Kaiser, Supreme War Lord and Prince of Peace, or rather the diplomat in the German Foreign Office who edited the pertinent clause to include other friends of England besides the Emperor, was referring to a pacific-minded minority of elements in the upper crust. Peace was professedly preferred among the higher ranks; nevertheless, war was considered inevitable, especially among the militarists who were armed to make peace with the sword. In any case, Germans of all parties and persuasions were personally embarrassed if not indignant over the Kaiser's indiscreet effusions; he was the person they identified with, whether they were for him or not. Some people thought, particularly the intellectuals, that they could make do rather well without an Emperor or a monarchy; yet few people were willing to take that leap so soon. The Second German Empire was barely out of its crib as a political entity, and the states it barely now comprised, or rather, consisted of, were hardly of one cloth. General Friedrick von Bernhardi, in Britain as Germany's Vassal, carefully noted the modern effects of the ancient parochial particularism of Germanic tribes: "The peoples and States which are united in the German Empire have had a long and tragic history. That history, it is true, is filled with great and glorious deeds. At the same time, it cannot be disguised that it has been the history of gradual decline from the time when the ancient German Empire broke up, down to the moment when, in our own time, Germany once more became united.... "At the time of Germany's weakness the German people lost their sense of national consciousness. They lost their faith in their own strength and in their destiny. Germans began to overvalue everything foreign. The people became accustomed to narrow parochial conditions in their country, and they acquired narrow and parochial political views. Germany's reunion became their greatest ideal.... However, they had completely lost the idea of worldpolitics.... Even to-day many German people do not realize the necessity of a world-policy and cannot make up their minds to pursue a larger policy. There are many Germans who would like to confine their country to its continental position, and who describe those who desire to open up their country a great future as advocates of a policy of reckless adventure.... There are people who do not object to the alliance which Germany's enemies have concluded among themselves, for they believe that the Triple Entente serves to maintain the peace of Europe.

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"Under these circumstances it seems necessary to tell the people again and again that Germany is an exceedingly important factor in human civilization...." The German press set about doing just that, time and time again, often prompted by provocative statements in the British jingo press. But we must not imagine that all Germans were petty and small-minded; as a matter of fact, many of them were interested in the world about them, so much so that "cosmopolitan" rather than "parochial" would be a more appropriate term for their disposition; yet that too was a threat to German unity: the independent state must be elevated over the world, hence Germany as a world-state, engaged in world-power politics, was emphasized. People are frequently their own worst enemy. The English language owes its existence to Low German. Teutons or not, Germans and the English have a reputation for stubborn particularism. England's independent spirit inspired her to rule the waves. And her cousins in the Fatherland who wanted the Roman Empire or Reich restored were jealous of the British Empire. Britain, on its part, looked down on the rude Prussian upstart; whether Germany was her cousin or not, she could not allow the applecart to be upset on the continent and the nations gathered up against her. Prussian historians contemptuously referred to the English as a nation of shopkeepers whose previous conquests and narcotic materialism had lulled them into a false sense of security. There is nothing like an enemy to bring a great nation together. Millions upon millions lives have been lost to world wars, yet even today proud leaders speak at length on how war makes a nation great, exalting individuals on the high altar of sacrifice. And all those who oppose reckless adventures that lead to war are called cowards if not enemies. The Soviet Union, the most recent Evil Empire, if the United States is the Good Empire, is subconsciously missed. Dualism must be restored! The world must be divided into Good and Evil again! There must be a deadly enemy again! Unfortunately, the enemy is elusive today, has no country, and wears no uniform. On the other hand, the German Empire did not want for easily identifiable enemies; their location was obvious; the Fatherland had grounds to be paranoid: Germany was encircled by enemies. Absolute Power, the god of worldly religion, is what was sorely wanted and loved above all. Decrepit Britain had the lion's share and no longer deserved it. In any event, something had to be done and soon, and for that a pretext was needed. Naturally ordinary people do not need sophisticated explanations for disliking or even hating a people who seem to be posing a threat or standing in their light. Even family members are notoriously ambivalent towards one another. For example, William II loved and hated his English mother. Like many children with problems at home, he loved most of all his
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grandparents. He certainly loved his grandfather, William I, King of Prussia and German Emperor. He was also fond of his grandfather's Iron Chancellor, Bismarck, until he saw fit to dismiss him. He loved, perhaps most of all, his grandmother, Queen Victoria of England, who died in his arms - he tried to lift her into her coffin despite his withered arm. So there existed a corresponding, natural love and hate relationship between the English and German people. Certain members of the German power elite genuinely appreciated Britain's global glory: for instance, Admiral Tirpitz, who was busy building up the German Fleet for its inevitable standoff with the British Fleet - no admiral in his right mind would risk his entire fleet in a battle to the death on the deep blue waters - admired his English friend and enemy. Germans who could afford it visited England, even sent their kids there to school, yet they expected her glory to fade fast as Germany eclipsed the global robber-state and converted it into Germany's lackey. There exists considerable moral justification rooted in legend and myth for the mutual ambivalence. Rather than casting so much blame on William II for failing to reign in the militarists who were eager to do what they do best, make war, we should give more credit to the Kaiser for fighting against his Prussian heritage, for stubbornly holding out for peace as long as he did, surrounded as he was from birth by the cultivation of war - as every self-respecting Prussian prince was destined to be. In any case, German patriotism did not depend on princely disposition for its expansive mood: populist patriotic leagues such as the Pan-German League, the AlldeutscherVerband, arose in Germany. The Pan German League was a nationalistic folkish organization seemingly opposed to Imperial politics at the time - the Imperial government was quick to co-opt elements of the movement and adopt its symbols for its own purposes. An especially sore spot was the Helgoland Treaty entered into, on the German side, by the Caprivi government: Germany relinquished claims to choice African lands in return for Britain's cession to German of the island of Helgoland. Pan-Germanism originated in the Alldeutschtum and Pangermanismus cultural movements. The Grossdeutschland solution to cultural fragmentation was largely educational at first, purposed to entice German emigrants back to the Fatherland or to provide them, with the help of German writers and professors, with German culture wherever the German flag was flown. But the vague cultural movement was soon provided with a rigid ideological scheme for fighting the “flood tide” of foreign immigrants “inundating” Germany and its provinces; and, externally, for expanding the German ethnic community about the globe. The cultural movement was couched in apocalyptic or millenarian rhetoric, its key element being Water, representing enemies surging, flooding, streaming, and storming about the fertile
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German lands, threatening to drown the Fatherland itself. The world was divided into twain for battle: into good, the Germans, and evil, the non-Germans. Socialists, Catholics, Jewish intellectuals and capitalists, homosexuals, and other internationalists were of course the true German's mortal enemies, just as the Roman Empire had been the mortal enemy of apocalyptic Jews and Christians. Ironically, in context of the holocaust to come, some Pan-Germans thought of themselves as the genuine Jews of the world - witness the Boer patriarchs in South Africa. Pan-German colonists and ideologues at-large were pioneers; prophets in the wilderness; martyrs; lighthouses or rocks or islands in the raging seas, swimming against the flood tide. One recalls the enemy, the Whore of Babylon, the Hills of Rome, the Grand Dragon - the conglomerate political totem resulting from miscegenation, associated with floods and the birth of the antiChrist - and so on. Hence a dragon-slayer is wanted, a messiah gifted with charisma. Professor Max Weber, who thought the Kaiser was a dangerous fool, stepped forward and asserted the superiority of the German power state over the cosmopolitan world. His timing was perfect. German hate-based group-love was feeling especially expansive notwithstanding the fact that particular states in the new imperial federation such as Bavaria did not appreciate Prussian domination or its belligerent plans for European dominion. Despite their primordial particularist tendencies, Germans were rightly taking more pride every day in their nascent national unity, a nationality preach religiously in their admirable school system. And they had every right to be proud of their almost miraculous progress, at least in raw, economic terms. Not that all was peaches and cream: the prosperity of many Germans was modest to say the least; but Germany industry had surpassed Great Britain and was second only to the United States. The population and production explosion wanted somewhere to go; alas, the world was hardly encircling the rambunctious new empire on the block with warm welcoming embraces Germans were being stiff-armed here and there by their old French brothers and English cousins. Wherefore Weber inflamed ambitious intellectuals with his 1895 Inaugural Lecture at the University of Freiburg: he said the unification of Germany would merely be a "youthful folly" unless followed up on with Weltmachpolitik, World Power Politics. In brief: Might makes right. Power takes precedence over ethics, if you will. Professor Weber's speech was lengthy and quite rational, but the powerful gist of it was nothing new: the popular or vulgar version circulated in myths of the barbaric paradise of Nordic gods who are instinctively overjoyed by uninhibited violence. Then Weber prayed for
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the rise of a charismatic leader. As the saying goes, we must be careful of what we pray for: Germany got Hitler, but we must not put too much blame on Professor Weber. The dragonslayer was about to become the dragon, his own worst enemy. The Cause is One, is the Original or First Cause, the Will to Overpower. However that may be, the sacred national symbols must be conserved; that responsibility eventually fell to the Pan-German League - Max Weber was one of its early supporters. The Pan-German League was a reorganization of the General German League, which, in turn, was an umbrella organization of other societies. The General German League was stillborn in 1886; it was revived in 1891, under the leadership of one Carl Peters, for the "activation of patriotic consciousness at home and combating all tendencies opposed to national i.e. volkisch development.... Fostering and support of German ethnic aspirations in all countries.... Promotion of... German power in Europe and overseas, especially the continuation of the German colonial movement toward tangible results." It's motto was 'Germandom Everywhere On Earth.' The General German League asserted the right of the German folk, clearly distinguished from the Imperial government, to be the nation; that is, the people and not the imperial elite are the nation, hence the national symbols belong to the people. Many members of the league were National Liberals, a party of middle-class urbanites who had split off from the Progressive Party. The National Liberal Party became more national than liberal: it abandoned its liberal ideals and advocated the military-industrial strengthening of German. Carl Peters went back to Africa; the General German League was beset with organizational and financial problems and was on the verge of collapse in 1893. Its membership ranged from a few hundred people in the Berlin chapter, in the first three years if its existence, to a few thousand people at its peak. One persistent bone of contention within the organization was the inclusion or exclusion of Jews from its membership. That question was not fully resolved until Hitler's time, when Jews were selected as the scapegoat for German unity; Jewish intellectuals even participated in early activities of the National Socialist organization. But prior to the Great War, the Navy and not the Jew was employed as the unifying symbol. The Pan-German League succeeding the General German League was organized in 1894 by a prominent member of the General German League, Professor Ernst Hasse, statistician, Reichstag member for the National Liberal Party. He was said to be a most candid man, a rigid thinker, enthusiastic, humorless, volatile, and impatient. He had the ideologue's intolerance for ambiguity. Haase was the League's chairman and chief ideologue until 1908. Deutsche Politik, his attempt to voice a coherent doctrine, was published between 1905 and 1908. He was dedicated to imperial expansion and to the defense of German culture.

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The Pan-German League's Constitution provided that its organization "strives to quicken the national sentiment of all Germans and in particular to awaken and foster the sense of racial and cultural kinship of all sections of the German people.... These aims imply that the Pan-German League works for preservation of the German people in Europe and overseas and its support wherever threatened, (and) settlement of all cultural, educational, and school problems in ways that shall aid the German people." The League's 1898 convention specified such policies as, "Transference to the west of all officials and military men of Polish race.... Employment of only German labor in imperial and state possessions and domains.... Possession of German citizenship by all Germans from the Empire in foreign countries.... Prohibition of the use of foreign languages in clubs and meetings.... Germanization of all foreign place names in the German Empire...." The Pan-German League like other patriotic societies had chapters all over the world to serve the German race. Of course the 'races' of popular 'racism' are not scientific facts but are fictions or myths. As for Germanic culture, the Germanic linguistic group and ethnos was diffused around and about the world, far from their obscure origin in time and place, hence it was exceedingly difficult if not impossible to define just who was German even though there were Germans everywhere. Some of the more expansive definitions even included certain categories elsewhere despised: the English, and, more significantly, the Slavs, upon whom Frederick the Great had once used his propaganda machine to disparage them as crude and uncouth barbarians. Of course there were plenty of 'Germans' in Austria, where the Pan-Germans were led by Hitler's model for agitation: Georg Ritter von Schonerer. Schonerer looked like a jovial farmer: broad, bearded, pot-bellied. He was a demagogue who used his perch in parliament to agitate for German unity as the response to a single issue: "the Jews versus the people." He regarded anti-Semitism as "the greatest achievement of our century. We regard as a deserter anyone who knowingly supports Jewry and its agents." He divided the world into anti-Semites, Jews, and "Jewish stooges." Furthermore, during a speech supporting his "Chinese Bill", so-called because it resembled the U.S. Congress exclusion of Oriental immigrants, he declared, "We... regard anti-Semitism as the cornerstone of our nationality, as one of the most important means of inculcating volkisch values as the greatest sign of this century...." His associates employed simple slogans such as "fighting corruption" and "destroying capitalism", implying, "burn the Jews." Pan-Germanism abhorred the economic determinism of socialism as well as that of capitalism, and, instead of the commodity-fetish and its money-god, the movement relied on its ethnic or folkish spirit as the determining cultural force.

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Schonerer developed vulgar obstructionist tactics in the parliament: interrupting speeches with derisive hoots and personal insults in tavern terminology; insisting on reading out the names of long lists of persons who had signed petitions; and so on. He used his privileged position to debase the constitutional process, slandering and intimidating people, while, at the same time, incongruously appealing to high ideals. In the same emotional speech he would, for instance, demand censorship and press freedom. The ambiguity did not matter since the underlying question demanding a solution was, for him and his ilk, the Jewish question. Hitler perfected Schonerer's incongruous approach; for instance, addressing strikers, Hitler promised them higher wages, and, in the next breath, promised their employers higher profit margins as a consequence - many people walked away knowing very well that the contradictions amounted to absurdity, but that was not the point during Hitler's rise to power: the point was always the unpatriotic Jewish merchants and capitalists, and, since capitalism and socialism had failed, their need for any kind of action at all in response to the desperate economic situation. In 1884 Schonerer gained widespread admiration for his opposition in parliament to the renewal of a railroad franchise owned by the Vienna Rothschild bank. Democrats wanted all railroads nationalized. Schonerer got petitions together and proceeded with a vilification campaign against "the worst enemies of the people", the "capitalist Jews" and their allies, the Vienna press, the "Jew journalist slaves" - most of the editors and writers of the Vienna press were Jews. As a consequence of Schonerer's scandalous agitation, a new, revised railroad bill was submitted by the government. The new bill was a victory for Schonerer and the public: the state immediately benefited by three times the railroad's annual net profit; 300 million gulden would be saved in the long run; the political benefit to the public of the pioneering, popular opposition to the government was immeasurable. The Austrian Pan-Germans wanted Austria to be ceded by Germany - Hitler would accomplish that later. In Germany, Pan-Germanism was largely a reaction to the "soft" policies of Chancellor Caprivi, who cared little for imperialism and who was, like Bismarck before him, more interested in consolidating and strengthening Germany's position on the Continent - a policy that alienated German super-patriots. William II supported his chancellor for awhile, but so much opposition arose that he had to wash his hands of Caprivi's liberal 'New Course' and abruptly dismiss him. The Pan-German League was tremendously influential despite its small membership of a few thousand, primarily middle-class, people. Even those who scoffed at the Pan-Germans sympathized with their views.

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The Imperial government was quick to co-opt the most popular ideas. The disenchantment with all things not German, and the love for things German including the Fatherland was widespread. To counter the flood tide of aliens everywhere, a wave of chauvinism was sweeping over Germany at the turn of the century. The crests were blown to new popular heights by big businessmen interested in unloading their surpluses overseas and paying off employees at home to stave off a social revolution. To that vertical end they profited at every level; most importantly and at enormous expense, they were building the fleet to protect their imperialism on the high seas. "Tear down your houses and use them to build an Ark!" we heard from Sumeria long before. If the dragon symbolizes the raging flood, one way to control the disorder is to ride the dragon with a big fleet of capital ships. But Navy officials were leery of the Pan German League’s grassroots advocacy of a big navy, lest the enthusiasm get out of hand and jeopardize the building program with undue agitation and populist influence on Navy administration. The Navy had become the popular symbol for German unity. The Navy might be a folk symbol but its application was to be in the hands of the power elite. Another league was wanted to that end. Patriotic industrialists and bankers, with vested interests in building the Navy for the Imperial government and in revitalizing the economy at the same time, organized the enormously popular Navy League. In contrast to the few thousand members of the Pan-German League, Navy League membership grew to nearly onemillion members. Germany's future was on the water: its time had come to build a dreadful fleet to sail the deep blue waters, that Germany might bask in the Sun. Great Britain ruled the waves, but not to worry, for her fortunes were bound to sink forthwith. The message of Germany unity and its mission was repeated again and again, and again. The great English robber-State was a nation of shopkeepers cravenly depending on her fleet and mercenaries instead of her own army of valiant warriors. She will as a matter of course be replaced by ascending Germany. After all, Germany is a nation inspired by Prussian militancy and by the ancient religious spirit of the four great world religions to pursue the very ends that led the disillusioned Frederick the Great to mock the myth of the Holy Roman Empire, just as Germany now mocks the myth of the English Empire. England's possessions; her arrogance on the seas; her claim to world-wide empire; - is a provocative insult to Germany. How dare the German Emperor proclaim his friendship for England in the Daily Telegraph! Britain, the elder power, had already glutted herself, or so lectured Professor Heinrich von Treitschke, leader of the patriotic Prussian School of History. England's "supremacy is an unreality," he said to his audience of both German and English students, who listened
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rapturously to his heartfelt propaganda. "Her political power is as hollow as her moral virtue; the one an arrogance and pretence, the other hypocrisy. She cannot long maintain that baseless supremacy." Moreover, "A German could not live long in the atmosphere of England an atmosphere of sham, prudery, conventionality, and hollowness." Max Weber believed that Professor Treitschke had gone overboard with his professional propaganda, pandering to his students with what they wanted to hear; nonetheless, Weber admired Treitschke’s patriotic German idealism. He also admired the English intellectual and leading philosopher of the Enlightenment, Thomas Hobbes, to a far greater extent. Hobbes was a master of clear thinking and English prose; his ideas about the solution to man's presumably natural state, the war of all against all, rang a bell in the Fatherland, and naturally so since the most generous Pan-German thinking included the Anglo-Saxons as a branch of the original superior race - Professor Weber personally excluded the Poles from original superiority, saying, "It is only thanks to us that Poles are human beings!" Hobbes was of course taken out of context in Germany, but Machiavelli was taken true to heart. However that might be, one thing is for sure: Prussia, and not England, is now to be the leading cause of world progress. Prussianized Germany, now a nation of warriors, must and will take her turn and play the leading role on the world stage, for Germany is the agent of the world spirit confronting opiumdealing, parochial Bible-thumping England - the Anglican Church has contributed nothing of lasting value to the world, whereas Germany's professors and scholars instruct the world in the great world religions. Another Treitschke phrase reiterates the proper German attitude toward England: "A thing that is wholly a sham cannot in this universe of ours endure forever. It may endure for a day, but its doom is certain; there is not room for it in a world governed by valor, by the Will to Power." Germany, if anything, is valiant. She (or “he” if you prefer), does not, like England did in the Boer War, "march chained Boer women together in order to form a screen to protect themselves from the bullets of outraged husbands and fathers." As for women, German women are not loud-mouthed English Suffragettes who wage war on flower-beds and shop windows. At least Prussian women are noble women! Witness how, in the heroic rising of the Prussian Schill in 1809, when in more than one instance, as the helmets of the dead were removed, a flood of golden hair rolled down from under the helmet to the waist of the fallen. That, they say, is how German women go to war. It all makes sense now; it is quite simple, according to the Prussian historians. Frederick the Great, like Alexander the Great, was an astounding military genius, yet he was content with the Prussia he had secured at the time. Furthermore, in 1871, nearly a century after Frederick, the "bad boy of Europe", had made a mockery of the crumbled Holy Roman Empire, Germany was
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inspired to a genuine Imperial unity, led, of course, by the Hohenzollern Dynasty. Thanks to Bismarck, Germany had by force of arms and clever diplomacy achieved its unity under Prussian hegemony. The north would rule the south, but with some trepidation, under Bismarck's constitution, of an incongruous imperial-federation. No, Germans must not blame Bismarck for the fatal defect of his constitution: he did not foresee the social revolution from below, rather he was anxious about holding the various states together under the Prussian dominance, and did not realize a dragon would soon be unleashed on the world. So now, with the restoration of the Imperial Roman Majesty in the Second Reich, and with Kaiser William II of the Hohenzollern House on the Imperial Throne, the Time had finally come for every patriotic German to carry on where Napoleon had failed, to accomplish what Nature demanded: a United States of the World! First of all, Europe must be saved. Since England was the greatest impediment to progress, the world must be saved from the clutches of the decrepit old English Octopus. William II is at the helm of the Imperial Ark, yet the World Spirit steers him to the preordained destiny of the Fatherland. The Kaiser is the genius of the German people whether he likes it or not, and he will soon become, against his will as a mere individual, alas, the "mad dog of Europe." Yes, indeed, the day of reckoning is coming, the hour is nigh, "Germany is watching and waiting, Year by year silently she prepares." --To Be Continued--

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