Germany Must Still Hate England
REVIEW of REVIEWS
A New Hymn of Hate—Teuton Policy Must Be Directed Against Britain
ADMIRAL VON TIRPITZ
GERMANY is still unrepentant, still figuring how she may regain what she has lost, still firm in her hatred of England. So much is made clear in the following very emphatic and vindictive article by Grand Admiral Von Tirpitz, that appeared in Die Grenzbote, Berlin, and reprinted in the London Times.
Von Tirpitz does not beat about the bush. England is the enemy and must be so regarded and thwarted at every turn. Russia is the natural friend and must be encouraged. He says:—
The terrible result of the world war has opened the eyes of many Germans to the fact that our Eastern policy before the war was wrong, or at least, in view of the dangerous situation of Germany at the time, insufficient. The question now before us is, therefore, whether or not we should return to that principle of orientation towards Russia to which Bismarck steadfastly adhered to the end of his life, in the face of the continued opposition of the liberal parties.
It is only human that all those who before the war and during the war believed in the final success of their bid for England’s favor, and acted accordingly, should have sought to explain the outcome of the war by arguing that had their wooing only been more thorough it would have been successful. It may very well be that we did not pursue either policy with unwavering consistency, and that it was because of this vacillation that we eventually came to grief. In my opinion in view of the great clash of interests we should have done better to have convinced ourselves that England was the mortal enemy of the German Empire and the German people— a point of view which does not in any way exclude the idea of avoiding if at all possible any conflict with England, and which must logically lead to the necessity for setting aside all vital points of dispute with Russia, even though some sacrifice on our part were unavoidable.
It can hardjy be denied that the history and origin of English Imperialism favors my view of the problem, and the only question which can really be raised is whether it was possible in the condition of affairs which had been reached at the beginning of the century for us to come to an arrangement with England purely upon a mutual commercial basis, or whether it was necessary in order to attain this end, of which at the same time I must say I do not approve, to facilitate the business negotiations by the possession of a force of our own which could be made effective against England. It is sometimes urged that the lirst was possible, while I am of the opinion that at best, that path could only have led to a societas leonina. It may be ¡.old that this would have been enough for os, and it: the light of the outcome of the war many Germans will certainly add the
cheap remark that even a partnership by which England had the lion’s share would be much preferable to Germany’s present situation.
But as regards the first point I was and am still of the opinion that it was the duty of so great a Kultur nation as Germany to make an attempt to maintain itself in a free and independent position in relation to the Anglo-Saxon world. That goal could never have been attained through an arrangement with England; and only if the attempt had succeeded could Germany have gained a position in which she could fulfil her highest duties of culture. But in any case we could never, even if we devoted ourselves to that purpose, reach a position of friendship with England such as has been outlined. Many years ago, when our memory of Waterloo had not yet been entirely erased, and before the conflict with England had become so very acute, a shrewd Dutchman explained to me that England would be “the enemy” for Germany, and that nothing could prevent that from happening. They, the Dutch, had occasion to study the question. The man was right. Perhaps he had in mind the English Admiral Monk’s declaration. Before the second of the three trade wars which England waged against Holland, when the question of a casus belli was under discussion, this Admiral told the hesitating assembly that it did not matter what reason they gave; what they needed was another bit of the Dutchmen’s trade.
Since the days of Queen Elizabeth England had waged nothing but trade and economic wars, whether it was for Spanish galleons loaded with silver, or for Dutch trade, or for French colonies. The economic, and thereby eventually the political, “domination” of the European continent was the definite aim of all English statesmen, yes, and of the entire English people — an aim from which they never took their eyes. England desired at least to have the ascendency in our continent. During last century she gained it by the
battle of Trafalgar, by the fall of Napoleon, and by the Congress of Vienna.
At the beginning of the present century her ascendency on the economic side was placed in jeopardy. Here it should be remembered that for a time England had become to some extent the capital of Europe, while Germany according to her geographical situation, supported by the five rivers that flow through the country, should have been the natural economic fountain-head of Europe, and not the isolated island of England. Hamburg, and not Cuxhaven, Shanghai, and not, as many people had thought, the Chusan Islands, were the business centres. In the same way Dar-es-Salam and not Zanzibar would have become in time the centre for East Africa. This law of nature, combined with other factors, was bound to force England back. The sense of economic retrogression penetrated to every class of the population. England was not going to descend to equality with us without a struggle, as soon as the situation became quite clear. No colonial or economic arrangements could stay this movement, and that is the sole reason why English statesmen would never actually enter into an agreement for the limitation of fleets during the years which preceded the war.
If you say that England might have felt herself threatened by the growth of our fleet, since her greatness depends upon the sea, there is also the other side of the question to be considered. England’s designs to monopolize the sea are openly acknowledged, and yet the sea belongs to all nations in an equal degree. There is another point which you do not take sufficiently into consideration, and that is that the English Fleet was just as menacing, or even more so, to an industrial Germany, since without a German fleet England was in a position to strangle Germany at any moment. Only the good Germans can believe that in such circumstances England would not have tightened the halter round Germany’s neck according as necessity dictated.
Before the outbreak of the war those who directed our foreign policy seem to have decided to pursue that Bismarckian principle which considered the maintenance of Austria a matter of life and death to the German people, to be defended if necessary by force of arms. Their mistake lay in coupling the menace to Austria with Russia’s desire to solve the Dardanelles question in her own way, as if Russian sovereignty over the Dardanelles had been a matter of life and death to Austria. But Bismarck designated the fate of Constantinople as an affair which was not vital to Germany, and for which it was not worth while sacrificing the bones of a Pomeranian grenadier.
That was however, Russia’s only aim and as we were now pursuing an antiRussian policy at Constantinople, Russia did not choose the way of the Black Sea, but the way through Servia, and she chose this way all the more readily since ticklish collisions with England were bound to have occurred over the water-way—which would have been to our profit. Now England sits astride the Sofia wall, because Russia and Germany were both fools.
Once again England has succeeded owing to sheer, incredible stupidity and jealousy of the European nations, and thanks to the wide moat which she possesses around her pirates’ nest.
Perhaps after this war the peoples of the European continent will realize how their interests are opposed to those of England, but are to a certain extent bound together and will close up their ranks.
It was the special task of Germany and her statesmen twenty or thirty years ago to seek to discern clearly the factors which made the gulf of antagonism between Europe and England unbridgable, because we were most immediately menaced. We needed to focus oúr policy upon the threatening storm clouds, and to support our policy it was necessary to obtain a power of our own on the water. Of these tasks we accomplished only the second, and that only between 1909 and 1914 in face of considerable obstruction from Bethmann and Wermuth. The first— the policy which our situation demanded— was inexcusably disregarded, and eventually what was in any case a premature explosion was needlessly brought about.
Now it is urged that since England’s power was against us, and was too strong for us, we should have entered into an agreement with England on a sort of junior partnership basis, and have liberated the Baltic countries, but I believe that any alliance with England means death to the other partner.
But even if by accepting the idea of alliance which was then in the air, we had been able to obtain a real success, it could only have been short-lived. The antagonism which, on sentimental grounds, existed between France and Germany, together with the antagonism to Russia which had been unnecessarily roused, would always have been used against us by England, for it would not have been possible to remove the fundamental clash of interests between us and England, which sooner or later would have shown itself afresh. This policy would only have been of use if we had wanted to gain time, and if our sea growth had been facilitated and our strength in alliances increased. On the other hand, if the development of our sea power had been hindered, we should
have been for ever more like an economic giant with lame feet, and we should have increased our possessions only to be a field for English exploitation and, to some extent, a money-box for England.
Von Tirpitz gives us to affirm that the agrarian life of Germany was not strong enough of itself, so that the problem of obtaining foodstuffs during a conflict lay for Germany in peaceful relations with Russia.
He sees as the crucial point in any agreement with Russia the latter’s aims in regard to Constantinople. He continues:—
When we. took away the defence of Constantinople from the British we drew hatred of the Russian people upon ourselves. The Russian told himself that the way to Constantinople lay through Berlin. Here I should like to remark that even from an economic standpoint we have no vital interest in the Berlin-ConstantinopleBaghdad line. The Orient Express was not of vital importance—the economic way lay on the water. The corn from Odessa did not go up the Danube to Mannheim, but through the Straits of Gibraltar and the English Channel and by Antwerp. Before the war I was told by more than one shrewd Russian that this Eastern policy of ours was alone responsible for the enmity between Germany and Russia.
Morally our people is in very poor health. The reckless egoism of opportunism has at present entirely swamped the idea of the State. The sovereignty of the masses without a strong brake must lead any people to destruction. The majority of our people no longer understand that duties stand higher than rights, that the well-being of the whole means in the long run the well-being of the individual, that freedom cannot exist without order, and that reduction to a universal level is Utopian and any attempt to bring it about strangles all personal initiative and with it all collective effort. This way is leading us farther along the road to ruin. If we cannot free ourselves from this plight we have no prospect of regaining our position.
He speaks at some length on the development of Bolshevik ideas in Germany and how such ideas have been fostered by the Ebert and Scheidemann-Erzberger Governments. He continues:—
Meanwhile, for that very reason our most important task is to recover our internal vitality in order to put the only thing which we have left—work—into the scale, and its success will remain, to an ever-increasing extent, essentially dependent upon the direction which we follow in our foreign policy. Therefore it seems to me beyond doubt that when the door to the Atlantic has been closed to us for a considerable time we shall have to seek a solid economic understanding with our European neighbors, whose interests, as I see them, lie in the same direction.
It is possible, but by no means certain, that the English would tolerate a revival of Germany to a certain extent—that is to say, so long as they believe they can make use of us as paid slaves. Robert Cecil said something like that in his last speech on the League of Nations, adding a significant clause to the effect that England should nevertheless remain on the alert to take matters in hand should this revival become too powerful for her. Here he certainly expresses the attitude of the whole English nation.
Our course is therefore clear. If we are ever obliged to work for a long time as paid slaves for other nations, we must take the utmost care that it is not for England. Small temporary advantages must not be allowed to outweigh this principle. The gulf of antagonism between us and England remains therefore, to my mind, as unbridgable as ever. In this matter I allow myself to be guided by the optimistic belief that our nation, when the bandage has been removed from its eyes, will regain its self-confidence, and together with it the will to recover. This it can only do in opposition to England and with a programme of solidarity between the Continental nations of Europe.
It will not lead us into antagonism with the Transatlantic nations, not even with America, in spite of her participation in the war against us. The desire of the American people should not be confounded with the worn-out policy of President Wilson. The United States^ and the other oversea nations have no interest in allowing England again to become the European distributing centre for their raw materials.
In spite of all our experiences during the war the most able men among us are always ready to allow the English to lead them round by the nose as soon as they approach us with soft words or little acts of kindness. They do not see that England fans our hatred for France in every sphere, while she herself, with her benevolent Puritan mask, remains in the background, just as she did in Greece during the war. Our good German Michaels do not see that it is above all things to
England’s interests to hinder our economic revival.
Such people would possibly consider it a success against the French if the English were, for example, to take over the policing of the Ruhr district. The cunning with which the Versailles Peace Treaty was inspired by England in her own interests— the confiscation of our colonies and our merchant fleet, and the seizure of Danzig and Memel, with its corollary of restricted trade connexions with Russia—has still
not opened our eyes. Again the English are concealing themselves craftily behind the French, whose prejudice against us stirs up German national feeling against the old hereditary enemy, leaving it no time to concern itself with the no less destructive enmity of England. It is my firm conviction that we and the Continent of Europe, which has gone down with us, can only recover if we recognize England’s cold, egotistical psychology, and act accordingly.