Join Date: Dec 2002
by Adolf Hitler
Table of Contents
Foreward, from Landsberg Am Lech, Fortress Prison
Volume One: A Reckoning
I In the House of My Parents
II Years of Study and Suffering in Vienna
III General Political Considerations Based on My Vienna Period
V The World War
VI War Propaganda
VII The Revolution
VIII The Beginning of My Political Activity
IX The 'German Workers' Party'
X Causes of the Collapse
XI Nation and Race
XII The First Period of Development of the National Socialist German Workers' Party
Volume Two: The National Socialist Movement
Philosophy and Party
Subjects and Citizens
Personality and the Conception of the Folkish State
Philosophy and Organization
The Struggle of the Early Period - the Significance of the Spoken Word
The Struggle with the Red Front
The Strong Man is Mightiest Alone
Basic Ideas Regarding the Meaning and Organization of the SA
Federalism as a Mask
Propaganda and Organization
The Trade Union Question
German Alliance Policy After the War
Eastern Orientation or Eastern Policy
The Right of Emergency Defense
ON NOVEMBER 9, 1923, at 12.30 in the afternoon, in front of the Feldherrnhalle as well as in the courtyard of the former War Ministry the following men fell, with loyal faith in the resurrection of their people:
Alfarth, Felix, businessman, B. July 5, 19O1
Bauriedl, Andreas, hatter, B. May 4, 1879
Casella, Theodor, bank clerk, A. August 8, 1900
Ehrlich, Wilhelm, bank clerk, B. August 19, 1894
Faust, Martin, bank clerk, B. January 27, 19O1
Hechenberger, Anton, locksmith, B. September 28, 1902
Korner, Oskar, businessman, B. January 4, 1875
Kuhn, Karl, headwaiter, B. July 26, 1897
Laforce, Karl, student of engineering, B. October 28, 1904
Neubauer, Kurt, valet, B. March 27, 1899
Pape, Claus Von, businessman, B. August 16, 1904
Pfordten, Theodor Son Der, county court councillor, B. May 14, 1873
Rickmers, Johann, retired cavalry captain, B. May 7, 1881
Scheubner-Richter, Max Erwin Von, doctor of engineering, B. January 9, 1884
Stransky, Lorenz, Ritter Von, engineer, B. March 14, 1889
Wolf, Wilhelm, businessman, A. October 19, 1898
So-called national authorities denied these dead heroes a common grave. Therefore I dedicate to them, for
common memory, the first volume of this work. As its blood witnesses, may they shine forever, a glowing
example to the followers of our movement.
Landsberg Am Lech
October 16, I924
Volume One: A Reckoning
Chapter I: In The House Of My Parents
TODAY it seems to me providential that Fate should have chosen Braunau on the Inn as my birthplace. For this little town lies on the boundary between two German states which we of the younger generation at least have made it our life work to reunite by every means at our disposal.
German-Austria must return to the great German mother country, and not because of any economic considerations. No, and again no: even if such a union were unimportant from an economic point of view; yes, even if it were harmful, it must nevertheless take place. One blood demands one Reich. Never will the German nation possess the moral right to engage in colonial politics until, at least, it embraces its own sons within a single state. Only when the Reich borders include the very last German, but can no longer guarantee his daily bread, will the moral right to acquire foreign soil arise from the distress of our own people. Their sword will become our plow, and from the tears of war the daily bread of future generations will grow. And so this little city on the border seems to me the symbol of a great mission. And in another respect as well, it looms as an admonition to the present day. More than a hundred years ago, this insignificant place had the distinction of being immortalized in the annals at least of German history, for it was the scene of a tragic catastrophe which gripped the entire German nation. At the time of our fatherland's deepest humiliation, Johannes Palm of Nuremberg, burgher, bookseller, uncompromising nationalist and French hater, died there for the Germany which he loved so passionately even in her misfortune. He had stubbornly refused to denounce his accomplices who were in fact his superiors. In thus he resembled Leo Schlageter. And like him, he was denounced to the French by a representative of his government. An Augsburg police chief won this unenviable fame, thus furnishing an example for our modern German officials in Herr Severing's Reich.
In this little town on the Inn, gilded by the rays of German martyrdom, Bavarian by blood, technically Austrian, lived my parents in the late eighties of the past century; my father a dutiful civil servant; my mother giving all her being to the household, and devoted above all to us children in eternal, loving care. Little remains in my memory of this period, for after a few years my father had to leave the little border city he had learned to love, moving down the Inn to take a new position in Passau, that is, in Germany proper.
In those days constant moving was the lot of an Austrian customs official. A short time later, my father was sent to Linz, and there he was finally pensioned. Yet, indeed, this was not to mean rest for the old gentleman. In his younger days, as the son of a poor cottager, he couldn't bear to stay at home. Before he was even thirteen, the little boy laced his tiny knapsack and ran away from his home in the Waldviertel. Despite the at tempts of 'experienced' villagers to dissuade him, he made his way to Vienna, there to learn a trade. This was in the fifties of the past century. A desperate decision, to take to the road with only three gulden for travel money, and plunge into the unknown. By the time the thirteen-year-old grew to be seventeen, he had passed his apprentice's examination, but he was not yet content. On the contrary. The long period of hardship, endless misery, and suffering he had gone through strengthened his determination to give up his trade and become something better. Formerly the poor boy had regarded the priest as the embodiment of all humanly attainable heights; now in the big city, which had so greatly widened his perspective, it was the rank of civil servant. With all the tenacity of a young man whom suffering and care had made 'old' while still half a child, the seventeen-year-old clung to his new decision - he did enter the civil service. And after nearly twenty-three years, I believe, he reached his goal. Thus he seemed to have fulfilled a vow which he had made as a poor boy: that he would not return to his beloved native village until he had made something of himself.
His goal was achieved; but no one in the village could remember the little boy of former days, and to him the village had grown strange.
When finally, at the age of fifty-six, he went into retirement, he could not bear to spend a single day of his leisure in idleness. Near the Upper Austrian market village of Lambach he bought a farm, which he worked himself, and thus, in the circuit of a long and industrious life, returned to the origins of his forefathers.
It was at this time that the first ideals took shape in my breast. All my playing about in the open, the long walk to school, and particularly my association with extremely 'husky' boys, which sometimes caused my mother bitter anguish, made me the very opposite of a stay-at-home. And though at that time I scarcely had any serious ideas to the profession I should one day pursue, my sympathies were in any case not in the direction of my father's career. I believe that even then my oratorical talent was being developed in the form of more or less violent arguments with my schoolmates. I had become a little ringleader; at school I learned easily and at that time very well, but was otherwise rather hard to handle. Since in my free time I received singing lessons in the cloister at Lambach, I had excellent opportunity to intoxicate myself with the solemn splendor of the brilliant church festivals. As was only natural the abbot seemed to me, as the village priest had once seemed to my father, the highest and most desirable ideal. For a time, at least, this was the case. But since my father, for understandable reasons, proved unable to appreciate the oratorical talents of his pugnacious boy, or to draw from them any favorable conclusions regarding the future of his offspring, he could, it goes without saying, achieve no understanding for such youthful ideas. With concern he observed this conflict of nature.
As it happened, my temporary aspiration for this profession was in any case soon to vanish, making place for hopes more stated to my temperament. Rummaging through my father's library, I had come across various books of a military nature among them a popular edition of the Franco-German War of 1870-71. It consisted of two issues of an illustrated periodical from those years, which now became my favorite reading matter. It was not long before the great heroic struggle had become my greatest inner experience. From then on I became more and more enthusiastic about everything that was in any way connected with war or, for that matter, with soldiering.
But in another respect as well, this was to assume importance for me. For the first time, though as yet in a confused form, the question was forced upon my consciousness: Was there a difference - and if so, what difference - between the Germans who fought these battles and other Germans? Why hadn't Austria taken part in this war; why hadn't my father and all the others fought?
Are we not the same as all other Germans?
Do we not all belong together? This problem began to gnaw at my little brain for the first time. I asked cautious questions and with secret envy received the answer that not every German was fortunate enough to belong to Bismarck's Reich.
This was more than I could understand.
It was decided that I should go to high school.
From my whole nature, and to an even greater degree from my temperament, my father believed he could draw the inference that the humanistic Gymnasium would represent a conflict with my talents. A Realschol seemed to him more suitable. In this opinion he was especially strengthened by my obvious aptitude for drawing; a subject which in his opinion was neglected in the Austrian Gymnasiums. Another factor may have been his own laborious career which made humanistic study seem impractical in his eyes, and therefore less desirable. It was his basic opinion and intention that, like himself, his son would and must become a civil servant. It was only natural that the hardships of his youth should enhance his subsequent achievement in his eyes, particularly since it resulted exclusively from his own energy and iron diligence. It was the pride of the self-made man which made him want his son to rise to the same position in life, or of course, even higher if possible, especially since, by his own industrious life, he thought he would be able to facilitate his child's development so greatly.
It was simply inconceivable to him that I might reject what had become the content of his whole life. Consequently, my father's decision was simple, definite, and clear; in his own eyes I mean, of course. Finally, a whole lifetime spent in the bitter struggle for existence had given him a domineering nature, and it would have seemed intolerable to him to leave the final decision in such matters to an inexperienced boy, having as yet no sense of responsibility. Moreover, this would have seemed a sinful and reprehensible weakness in the exercise of his proper parental authority and responsibility for the future life of his child, and as such, absolutely incompatible with his concept of duty.
And yet things were to turn out differently.
Then barely eleven years old, I was forced into opposition for the first time in my life. Hard and determined as my father might be in putting through plans and purposes once conceived, his son was just as persistent and recalcitrant in rejecting an idea which appealed to him not at all, or in any case very little.
I did not want to become a civil servant.
Neither persuasion nor 'serious' arguments made any impression on my resistance. I did not want to be a civil servant: no, and again no. All attempts on my father's part to inspire me with love or pleasure in this profession by stories from his own life accomplished the exact opposite. I yawned and grew sick to my stomach at the thought of sitting in an office, deprived of my liberty; ceasing to be master of my own time and being compelled to force the content of a whole life into blanks that had to be filled out.
And what thoughts could this prospect arouse in a boy who in reality was really anything but 'good' in the usual sense of the word? School work was ridiculously easy, leaving me so much free time that the sun saw more of me than my room. When today my political opponents direct their loving attention to the examination of my life, following it back to those childhood days and discover at last to their relief what intolerable pranks this "Hitler" played even in his youth, I thank Heaven that a portion of the memories of those happy days still remains with me. Woods and meadows were then the battlefields on which the 'conflicts' which exist everywhere in life were decided.
In this respect my attendance at the Realschule, which now commenced, made little difference. But now, to be sure, there was a new conflict to be fought out.
As long as my father's intention of making me a civil servant encountered only my theoretical distaste for the profession, the conflict was bearable. Thus far, I had to some extent been able to keep my private opinions to myself; I did not always have to contradict him immediately. My own firm determination never to become a civil servant sufficed to give me complete inner peace. And this decision in me was immutable. The problem became more difficult when I developed a plan of my own in opposition to my father's. And this occurred at the early age of twelve. How it happened, I myself do not know, but one day it became clear to me that I would become a painter, an artist. There was no doubt as to my talent for drawing; it had been one of my father's reasons for sending me to the Realschule, but never in all the world would it have occurred to him to give me professional training in this direction. On the contrary. When for the first time, after once again rejecting my father's favorite notion, I was asked what I myself wanted to be, and I rather abruptly blurted out the decision I had meanwhile made, my father for the moment was struck speechless.
He doubted my sanity, or perhaps he thought he had heard wrong or misunderstood me. But when he was clear on the subject, and particularly after he felt the seriousness of my intention, he opposed it with all the determination of his nature. His decision was extremely simple, for any consideration of what abilities I might really have was simply out of the question.
'Artist, no, never as long as I live!' But since his son, among various other qualities, had apparently inherited his father's stubbornness, the same answer came back at him. Except, of course, that it was in the opposite sense.
And thus the situation remained on both sides. My father did not depart from his 'Never!' And I intensified my 'Oh, yes!'
The consequences, indeed, were none too pleasant. The old man grew embittered, and, much as I loved him, so did I. My father forbade me to nourish the slightest hope of ever being allowed to study art. I went one step further and declared that if that was the case I would stop studying altogether. As a result of such 'pronouncements,' of course, I drew the short end; the old man began the relentless enforcement of his authority. In the future, therefore, I was silent, but transformed my threat into reality. I thought that once my father saw how little progress I was making at the Realschule, he would let me devote myself to my dream, whether he liked it or not.
I do not know whether this calculation was correct. For the moment only one thing was certain: my obvious lack of success at school. What gave me pleasure I learned, especially everything which, in my opinion, I should later need as a painter. What seemed to me unimportant in this respect or was otherwise unattractive to me, I sabotaged completely. My report cards at this time, depending on the subject and my estimation of it, showed nothing but extremes. Side by side with 'laudable' and 'excellent,' stood 'adequate' or even 'inadequate.' By far my best accomplishments were in geography and even more so in history. These were my favorite subjects, in which I led the class.
If now, after so many years, I examine the results of this period, I regard two outstanding facts as particularly significant:
First: I became a nationalist.
Second: I learned to understand and grasp the meaning of history.
Old Austria was a 'state of nationalities.'
By and large, a subject of the German Reich, at that time at least, was absolutely unable to grasp the significance of this fact for the life of the individual in such a state. After the great victorious campaign of the heroic armies in the Franco-German War, people had gradually lost interest in the Germans living abroad; some could not, while others were unable to appreciate their importance. Especially with regard to the German-Austrians, the degenerate dynasty was only too frequently confused with the people, which at the core was robust and healthy.
What they failed to appreciate was that, unless the German in Austria had really been of the best blood, he would never have had the power to set his stamp on a nation of fifty-two million souls to such a degree that, even in Germany, the erroneous opinion could arise that Austria was a German state. This was an absurdity fraught with the direst consequences, and yet a glowing testimonial to the ten million Germans in the Ostmark. Only a handful of Germans in the Reich had the slightest conception of the eternal and merciless struggle for the German language, German schools, and a German way of life. Only today, when the same deplorable misery is forced on many millions of Germans from the Reich, who under foreign rule dream of their common fatherland and strive, amid their longing, at least to preserve their holy right to their mother tongue, do wider circles understand what it means to be forced to fight for one's nationality. Today perhaps some can appreciate the greatness of the Germans in the Reich's old Ostmark, who, with no one but themselves to depend on, for centuries protected the Reich against incursions from the East, and finally carried on an exhausting guerrilla warfare to maintain the German language frontier, at a time when the Reich was highly interested in colonies, but not in its own flesh and blood at its very doorstep.
As everywhere and always, in every struggle, there were, in this fight for the language in old Austria, three strata:
The fighters, the lukewarm and the traitors.
This sifting process began at school. For the remarkable fact about the language struggle is that its waves strike hardest perhaps in the school, since it is the seed-bed of the coming generation. It is a struggle for the soul of the child, and to the child its first appeal is addressed:
'German boy, do not forget you are a German,' and, 'Little girl, remember that you are to become a German mother.'
Anyone who knows the soul of youth will be able to understand that it is they who lend ear most joyfully to such a battle-cry. They carry on this struggle in hundreds of forms, in their own way and with their own weapons. They refuse to sing un-German songs. The more anyone tries to alienate them from German heroic grandeur, the wilder becomes their enthusiasm: they go hungry to save pennies for the grown-ups' battle fund their ears are amazingly sensitive to un-German teachers, and at the same time they are incredibly resistant; they wear the forbidden insignia of their own nationality and are happy to be punished or even beaten for it. Thus, on a small scale they are a faithful reflection of the adults, except that often their convictions are better and more honest.
I, too, while still comparatively young, had an opportunity to take part in the struggle of nationalities in old Austria. Collections were taken for the Sudmark I and the school association; we emphasized our convictions by wearing corn-flowers and red lack, and gold colors; 'Heil' was our greeting, and instead of the imperial anthem we sang 'Deutschland uber Alles,' despite warnings and punishments. In this way the child received political training in a period when as a rule the subject of a so-called national state knew little more of his nationality than its language. It goes without saying that even then I was not among the lukewarm. In a short time I had become a fanatical 'German Nationalist,' though the term was not identical with our present party concept.
This development in me made rapid progress; by the time I was fifteen I understood the difference between dynastic 'patriotism' and folkish 'nationalism'; and even then I was interested only in the latter.
For anyone who has never taken the trouble to study the inner conditions of the Habsburg monarchy, such a process may not be entirely understandable. In this country the instruction in world history had to provide the germ for this development, since to all intents and purposes there is no such thing as a specifically Austrian history. The destiny of this state is so much bound up with the life and development of all the Germans that a separation of history into German and Austrian does not seem conceivable. Indeed, when at length Germany began to divide into two spheres of power, this division itself became German history.
The insignia of former imperial glory, preserved in Vienna, still seem to cast a magic spell; they stand as a pledge that these twofold destinies are eternally one.
The elemental cry of the German-Austrian people for union with the German mother country, that arose in the days when the Habsburg state was collapsing, was the result of a longing that slumbered in the heart of the entire people - a longing to return to the never-forgotten ancestral home. But this would be in explicable if the historical education of the individual German-Austrian had not given rise to so general a longing. In it lies a well which never grows dry; which, especially in times of forgetfulness, transcends all momentary prosperity and by constant reminders of the past whispers softly of a new future.
Instruction in world history in the so-called high schools is even today in a very sorry condition. Few teachers understand that the aim of studying history can never be to learn historical dates and events by heart and recite them by rote; that what matters is not whether the child knows exactly when this or that battle was fought, when a general was born, or even when a monarch (usually a very insignificant one) came into the crown of his forefathers. No, by the living God, this is very unimportant.
To 'learn' history means to seek and find the forces which are the causes leading to those effects which we subsequently perceive as historical events.
The art of reading as of learning is this: to retain the essential, to forget the non-essential.
Perhaps it affected my whole later life that good fortune sent me a history teacher who was one of the few to observe this principle in teaching and examining. Dr. Leopold Potsch, my professor at the Realschule in Linz, embodied this requirement to an ideal degree. This old gentleman's manner was as kind as it was determined, his dazzling eloquence not only held us spellbound but actually carried us away. Even today I think back with gentle emotion on this gray-haired man who, by the fire of his narratives, sometimes made us forget the present; who, as if by enchantment, carried us into past times and, out of the millennial veils of mist, molded dry historical memories into living reality. On such occasions we sat there, often aflame with enthusiasm, and sometimes even moved to tears.
What made our good fortune all the greater was that this teacher knew how to illuminate the past by examples from the present, and how from the past to draw inferences for the present. As a result he had more understanding than anyone else for all the daily problems which then held us breathless. He used our budding nationalistic fanaticism as a means of educating us, frequently appealing to our sense of national honor. By this alone he was able to discipline us little ruffians more easily than would have been possible by any other means.
This teacher made history my favorite subject.
And indeed, though he had no such intention, it was then that I became a little revolutionary.
For who could have studied German history under such a teacher without becoming an enemy of the state which, through its ruling house, exerted so disastrous an influence on the destinies of the nation?
And who could retain his loyalty to a dynasty which in past and present betrayed the needs of the German people again and again for shameless private advantage?
Did we not know, even as little boys, that this Austrian state had and could have no love for us Germans?
Our historical knowledge of the works of the House of Habsburg was reinforced by our daily experience. In the north and south the poison of foreign nations gnawed at the body of our nationality, and even Vienna was visibly becoming more and more of an un-German city. The Royal House Czechized wherever possible, and it was the hand of the goddess of eternal justice and inexorable retribution which caused Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the most mortal enemy of Austrian-Germanism, to fall by the bullets which he himself had helped to mold. For had he not been the patron of Austria's Slavization from above?
Immense were the burdens which the German people were expected to bear, inconceivable their sacrifices in taxes and blood, and yet anyone who was not totally blind was bound to recognize that all this would be in vain. What pained us most was the fact that this entire system was morally whitewashed by the alliance with Germany, with the result that the slow extermination of Germanism in the old monarchy was in a certain sense sanctioned by Germany itself. The Habsburg hypocrisy, which enabled the Austrian rulers to create the ******d appearance that Austria was a German state, raised the hatred toward this house to flaming indignation and at the same time contempt.
Only in the Reich itself, the men who even then were called to power saw nothing of all this. As though stricken with blindness, they lived by the side of a corpse, and in the symptoms of rottenness saw only the signs of 'new' life.
The unholy alliance of the young Reich and the Austrian sham-state contained the germ of the subsequent World War and of the collapse as well.
In the course of this book I shall have occasion to take up this problem at length. Here it suffices to state that even in my earliest youth I came to the basic insight which never left me, but only became more profound:
That Germanism could be safeguarded only by the destruction of Austria, and, furthermore, that national sentiment is in no sense identical with dynastic patriotism; that above all the House of Habsburg was destined to be the misfortune of the German nation.
Even then I had drawn the consequences from this realization ardent love for my German-Austrian homeland state.
The habit of historical thinking which I thus learned in school has never left me in the intervening years. To an ever-increasing extent world history became for me an inexhaustible source of understanding for the historical events of the present, in other words, for politics. I do not want to 'learn' it, I want it to instruct me.
Thus, at an early age, I had become a political 'revolutionary,' and I became an artistic revolutionary at an equally early age.
The provincial capital of Upper Austria had at that time a theater which was, relatively speaking, not bad. Pretty much of everything was produced. At the age of twelve I saw Wilhelm Tell for the first time, and a few months later my first opera, Lohengrin. I was captivated at once. My youthful enthusiasm for the master of Bayreuth knew no bounds. Again and again I was drawn to his works, and it still seems to me especially fortunate that the modest provincial performance left me open to an intensified experience later on.
All this, particularly after I had outgrown my adolescence (which in my case was an especially painful process), reinforced my profound distaste for the profession which my father had chosen for me. My conviction grew stronger and stronger that I would never be happy as a civil servant. The fact that by this time my gift for drawing had been recognized at the Realschule made my determination all the firmer.
Neither pleas nor threats could change it one bit.
I wanted to become a painter and no power in the world could make me a civil servant.
Yet, strange as it may seem, with the passing years I became more and more interested in architecture.
At that time I regarded this as a natural complement to my gift as a painter, and only rejoiced inwardly at the extension of my artistic scope.
I did not suspect that things would turn out differently.
The question of my profession was to be decided more quickly than I had previously expected. In my thirteenth year I suddenly lost my father. A stroke of apoplexy felled the old gentleman who was otherwise so hale, thus painlessly ending his earthly pilgrimage, plunging us all into the depths of grief. His most ardent desire had been to help his son forge his career, thus preserving him from his own bitter experience. In this, to all appearances, he had not succeeded. But, though unwittingly, he had sown the seed for a future which at that time neither he nor I would have comprehended.
For the moment there was no ******d change.
My mother, to be sure, felt obliged to continue my education in accordance with my father's wish; in other words, to have me study for the civil servant's career. I, for my part, was more than ever determined absolutely not to undertake this career. In proportion as my schooling departed from my ideal in subject matter and curriculum, I became more indifferent at heart. Then suddenly an illness came to my help and in a few weeks decided my future and the eternal domestic quarrel. As a result of my serious lung ailment, a physician advised my mother in most urgent terms never to send me into an office. My attendance at the Realschule had furthermore to be interrupted for at least a year. The goal for which I had so long silently yearned, for which I had always fought, had through this event suddenly become reality almost of its own accord.
Concerned over my illness, my mother finally consented to take me out of the Realschule and let me attend the Academy.
These were the happiest days of my life and seemed to me almost a dream; and a mere dream it was to remain. Two years later, the death of my mother put a sudden end to all my high-flown plans.
It was the conclusion of a long and painful illness which from the beginning left little hope of recovery. Yet it was a dreadful blow, particularly for me. I had honored my father, but my mother I had loved.
Poverty and hard reality now compelled me to take a quick decision. What little my father had left had been largely exhausted by my mother's grave illness; the orphan's pension to which I was entitled was not enough for me even to live on, and so I was faced with the problem of somehow making my own living.
In my hand a suitcase full of clothes and underwear; in my heart an indomitable will, I journeyed to Vienna. I, too, hoped to wrest from Fate what my father had accomplished fifty years before; I, too, wanted to become 'something' - but on no account a civil servant.
Volume One: A Reckoning
Chapter II: Years of Study and Suffering in Vienna
WHEN my mother died, Fate, at least in one respect, had made its decisions.
In the last months of her sickness, I had gone to Vienna to take the entrance examination for the Academy. I had set out with a pile of drawings, convinced that it would be child's play to pass the examination. At the Realschule I had been by far the best in my class at drawing, and since then my ability had developed amazingly; my own satisfaction caused me to take a joyful pride in hoping for the best.
Yet sometimes a drop of bitterness put in its appearance: my talent for painting seemed to be excelled by my talent for drawing, especially in almost all fields of architecture. At the same time my interest in architecture as such increased steadily, and this development was accelerated after a two weeks' trip to Vienna which I took when not yet sixteen. The purpose of my trip was to study the picture gallery in the Court Museum, but I had eyes for scarcely anything but the Museum itself. From morning until late at night, I ran from one object of interest to another, but it was always the buildings which held my primary interest. For hours I could stand in front of the Opera, for hours I could gaze at the Parliament; the whole Ring Boulevard seemed to me like an enchantment out of The Thousand-and-One-Nights.
Now I was in the fair city for the second time, waiting with burning impatience, but also with confident self-assurance, for the result of my entrance examination. I was so convinced that I would be successful that when I received my rejection, it struck me as a bolt from the blue. Yet that is what happened. When I presented myself to the rector, requesting an explanation for my non-acceptance at the Academy's school of painting, that gentleman assured me that the drawings I had submitted incontrovertibly showed my unfitness for painting, and that my ability obviously lay in the field of architecture; for me, he said, the Academy's school of painting was out of the question, the place for me was the School of Architecture. It was incomprehensible to him that I had never attended an architectural school or received any other training in architecture. Downcast, I left von Hansen's magnificent building on the Schillerplatz, for the first time in my young life at odds with myself. For what I had just heard about my abilities seemed like a lightning flash, suddenly revealing a conflict with which I had long been afflicted, although until then I had no clear conception of its why and wherefore.
In a few days I myself knew that I should some day become an architect.
To be sure, it was an incredibly hard road; for the studies I had neglected out of spite at the Realschule were sorely needed. One could not attend the Academy's architectural school without having attended the building school at the Technic, and the latter required a high-school degree. I had none of all this. The fulfillment of my artistic dream seemed physically impossible.
When after the death of my mother I went to Vienna for the third time, to remain for many years, the time which had meanwhile elapsed had restored my calm and determination. My old defiance had come back to me and my goal was now clear and definite before my eyes. I wanted to become an architect, and obstacles do not exist to be surrendered to, but only to be broken. I was determined to overcome these obstacles, keeping before my eyes the image of my father, who had started out as the child of a village shoemaker, and risen by his own efforts to be a government official. I had a better foundation to build on, and hence my possibilities in the struggle were easier, and what then seemed to be the harshness of Fate, I praise today as wisdom and Providence. While the Goddess of Suffering took me in her arms, often threatening to crush me, my will to resistance grew, and in the end this will was victorious.
I owe it to that period that I grew hard and am still capable of being hard. And even more, I exalt it for tearing me away from the hollowness of comfortable life; for drawing the mother's darling out of his soft downy bed and giving him 'Dame Care' for a new mother; for hurling me, despite all resistance, into a world of misery and poverty, thus making me acquainted with those for whom I was later to fight.
In this period my eyes were opened to two menaces of which I had previously scarcely known the names, and whose terrible importance for the existence of the German people I certainly did not understand: Marxism and Jewry.
To me Vienna, the city which, to so many, is the epitome of innocent pleasure, a festive playground for merrymakers, represents, I am sorry to say, merely the living memory of the saddest period of my life.
Even today this city can arouse in me nothing but the most dismal thoughts. For me the name of this Phaeacian city represents five years of hardship and misery. Five years in which I was forced to earn a living, first as a day laborer, then as a small painter; a truly meager living which never sufficed to appease even my daily hunger. Hunger was then my faithful bodyguard; he never left me for a moment and partook of all I had, share and share alike. Every book I acquired aroused his interest; a visit to the Opera prompted his attentions for days at a time; my life was a continuous struggle with this pitiless friend. And yet during this time I studied as never before. Aside from my architecture and my rare visits to the Opera, paid for in hunger, I had but one pleasure: my books.
At that time I read enormously and thoroughly. All the free time my work left me was employed in my studies. In this way I forged in a few years' time the foundations of a knowledge from which I still draw nourishment today.
And even more than this:
In this period there took shape within me a world picture and a philosophy which became the granite foundation of all my acts. In addition to what I then created, I have had to learn little; and I have had to alter nothing.
On the contrary.
Today I am firmly convinced that basically and on the whole all creative ideas appear in our youth, in so far as any such are present. I distinguish between the wisdom of age, consisting solely in greater thoroughness and caution due to the experience of a long life, and the genius of youth, which pours out thoughts and ideas with inexhaustible fertility, but cannot for the moment develop them because of their very abundance. It is this youthful genius which provides the building materials and plans for the future, from which a wiser age takes the stones, carves them and completes the edifice, in so far as the so-called wisdom of age has not stifled the genius of youth.
The life which I had hitherto led at home differed little or not at all from the life of other people. Carefree, I could await the new day, and there was no social problem for me. The environment of my youth consisted of petty-bourgeois circles, hence of a world having very little relation to the purely manual worker. For, strange as it may seem at first glance, the cleft between this class, which in an economic sense is by no means so brilliantly situated, and the manual worker is often deeper than we imagine. The reason for this hostility, as we might almost call it, lies in the fear of a social group, which has but recently raised itself above the level of the manual worker, that it will sink back into the old despised class, or at least become identified with it. To this, in many cases, we must add the repugnant memory of the cultural poverty of this lower class, the frequent vulgarity of its social intercourse; the petty bourgeois' own position in society, however insignificant it may be, makes any contact with this outgrown stage of life and culture intolerable.
Consequently, the higher classes feel less constraint in their dealings with the lowest of their fellow men than seems possible to the 'upstart.'
For anyone is an upstart who rises by his own efforts from his previous position in life to a higher one.
Ultimately this struggle, which is often so hard, kills all pity. Our own painful struggle for existence destroys our feeling for the misery of those who have remained behind.
In this respect Fate was kind to me. By forcing me to return to this world of poverty and insecurity, from which my father had risen in the course of his life, it removed the blinders of a narrow petty-bourgeois upbringing from my eyes. Only now did I learn to know humanity, learning to distinguish between empty appearances or brutal externals and the inner being.
After the turn of the century, Vienna was, socially speaking, one of the most backward cities in Europe.
Dazzling riches and loathsome poverty alternated sharply. In the center and in the inner districts you could really feel the pulse of this realm of fifty-two millions, with all the dubious magic of the national melting pot. The Court with its dazzling glamour attracted wealth and intelligence from the rest of the country like a magnet. Added to this was the strong centralization of the Habsburg monarchy in itself.
It offered the sole possibility of holding this medley of nations together in any set form. But the consequence was an extraordinary concentration of high authorities in the imperial capital
Yet not only in the political and intellectual sense was Vienna the center of the old Danube monarchy, but economically as well. The host of high of officers, government officials, artists, and scholars was confronted by an even greater army of workers, and side by side with aristocratic and commercial wealth dwelt dire poverty. Outside the palaces on the Ring loitered thousands of unemployed, and beneath this Via Triumphalis of old Austria dwelt the homeless in the gloom and mud of the canals.
In hardly any German city could the social question have been studied better than in Vienna. But make no mistake. This 'studying' cannot be done from lofty heights. No one who has not been seized in the jaws of this murderous viper can know its poison fangs. Otherwise nothing results but superficial chatter and false sentimentality. Both are harmful. The former because it can never penetrate to the core of the problem, the latter because it passes it by. I do not know which is more terrible: inattention to social misery such as we see every day among the majority of those who have been favored by fortune or who have risen by their own efforts, or else the snobbish, or at times tactless and obtrusive, condescension of certain women of fashion in skirts or in trousers, who feel for the people.' In any event, these gentry sin far more than their minds, devoid of all instinct, are capable of realizing. Consequently, and much to their own amazement, the result of their social 'efforts' is always nil, frequently, in fact, an indignant rebuff, though this, of course, is passed off as a proof of the people's ingratitude.
Such minds are most reluctant to realize that social endeavor has nothing in common with this sort of thing; that above all it can raise no claim to gratitude, since its function is not to distribute favors but to restore rights.
I was preserved from studying the social question in such a way. By drawing me within its sphere of suffering, it did not seem to invite me to 'study,' but to experience it in my own skin. It was none of its doing that the guinea pig came through the operation safe and sound.
An attempt to enumerate the sentiments I experienced in that period could never be even approximately complete; I shall describe here only the most essential impressions, those which often moved me most deeply, and the few lessons which I derived from them at the time.
The actual business of finding work was, as a rule, not hard for me, since I was not a skilled craftsman, but was obliged to seek my daily bread as a so-called helper and sometimes as a casual laborer. I adopted the attitude of all those who shake the dust of Europe from their feet with the irrevocable intention of founding a new existence in the New World and conquering a new home. Released from all the old, paralyzing ideas of profession and position, environment and tradition, they snatch at every livelihood that offers itself, grasp at every sort of work, progressing step by step to the realization that honest labor, no matter of what sort, disgraces no one. I, too, was determined to leap into this new world, with both feet, and fight my way through. I soon learned that there was always some kind of work to be had, but equally soon I found out how easy it was to lose it. The uncertainty of earning my daily bread soon seemed to me one of the darkest sides of my new life.
The 'skilled' worker does not find himself out on the street as frequently as the unskilled; but he is not entirely immune to this fate either. And in his case the loss of livelihood owing to lack of work is replaced by the lock-out, or by going on strike himself. In this respect the entire economy suffers bitterly from the individual's insecurity in earning his daily
The peasant boy who goes to the big city, attracted by the easier nature of the work (real or imaginary), by shorter hours, but most of all by the dazzling light emanating from the metropolis, is accustomed to a certain security in the matter of livelihood. He leaves his old job only when there is at least some prospect of a new one. For there is a great lack of agricultural workers, hence the probability of any long period of unemployment is in itself small. It is a mistake to believe that the young fellow who goes to the big city is made of poorer stuff than his brother who continues to make an honest living from the peasant sod. No, on the contrary: experience shows that all those elements which emigrate consist of the healthiest and most energetic natures, rather than conversely. Yet among these 'emigrants' we must count, not only those who go to America, but to an equal degree the young farmhand who resolves to leave his native village for the strange city. He, too, is prepared to face an uncertain fate. As a rule he arrives in the big city with a certain amount of money; he has no need to lose heart on the very first day if he has the ill fortune to find no work for any length of time. But it is worse if, after finding a job, he soon loses it. To find a new one, especially in winter, is often difficult if not impossible. Even so, the first weeks are tolerable. He receives an unemployment benefit from his union funds and manages as well as possible. But when his last cent is gone and the union, due to the long duration of his unemployment, discontinues its payments, great hardships begin. Now he walks the streets, hungry; often he pawns and sells his last possessions; his clothing becomes more and more wretched; and thus he sinks into external surroundings which, on top of his physical misfortune, also poison his soul. If he is evicted and if (as is so often the case) this occurs in winter, his misery is very great. At length he finds some sort of job again. But the old story is repeated. The same thing happens a second time, the third time perhaps it is even worse, and little by little he learns to bear the eternal insecurity with greater and greater indifference. At last the repetition becomes a habit.
And so this man, who was formerly so hard-working, grows lax in his whole view of life and gradually becomes the instrument of those who use him only for their own base advantage. He has so often been unemployed through no fault of his own that one time more or less ceases to matter, even when the aim is no longer to fight for economic rights, but to destroy political, social, or cultural values in general. He may not be exactly enthusiastic about strikes, but at any rate he has become indifferent.
With open eyes I was able to follow this process in a thousand examples. The more I witnessed it, the greater grew my revulsion for the big city which first avidly sucked men in and then so cruelly crushed them.
When they arrived, they belonged to their people; after remaining for a few years, they were lost to it.
I, too, had been tossed around by life in the metropolis - in my own skin I could feel the effects of this fate and taste them with my soul. One more thing I saw: the rapid change from work to unemployment and vice versa, plus the resultant fluctuation of income, end by destroying in many all feeling for thrift, or any understanding for a prudent ordering of their lives. It would seem that the body gradually becomes accustomed to living on the fat of the land in good times and going hungry in bad times. Indeed, hunger destroys any resolution for reasonable budgeting in better times to come by holding up to the eyes of its tormented victim an eternal mirage of good living and raising this dream to such a pitch of longing that a pathological desire puts an end to all restraint as soon as wages and earnings make it at all possible. The consequence is that once the man obtains work he irresponsibly forgets all ideas of order and discipline, and begins to live luxuriously for the pleasures of the moment. This upsets even the small weekly budget, as even here any intelligent apportionment is lacking; in the beginning it suffices for five days instead of seven, later only for three, finally scarcely for one day, and in the end it is drunk up in the very first night. Often he has a wife and children at home. Sometimes they, too, are infected by this life, especially when the man is good to them on the whole and actually loves them in his own way. Then the weekly wage is used up by the whole family in two or three days; they eat and drink as long as the money holds out and the last days they go hungry. Then the wife drags herself out into the neighborhood, borrows a little, runs up little debts at the food store, and in this way strives to get through the hard last days of the week. At noon they all sit together before their meager and sometimes empty bowls, waiting for the next payday, speaking of it, making plans, and, in their hunger, dreaming of the happiness to come.
And so the little children, in their earliest beginnings, are made familiar with this misery.
It ends badly if the man goes his own way from the very beginning and the woman, for the children's sake, opposes him. Then there is fighting and quarreling, and, as the man grows estranged from his wife, he becomes more intimate with alcohol. He is drunk every Saturday, and, with her instinct of self-preservation for herself and her children, the woman has to fight to get even a few pennies out of him; and, to make matters worse, this usually occurs on his way from the factory to the barroom. When at length he comes home on Sunday or even Monday night, drunk and brutal, but always parted from his last cent, such scenes often occur that God have mercy!
I have seen this in hundreds of instances. At first I was repelled or even outraged, but later I understood the whole tragedy of this misery and its deeper causes. These people are the unfortunate victims of bad conditions! Even more dismal in those days were the housing conditions. The misery in which the Viennese day laborer lived was frightful to behold. Even today it fills me with horror when I think of these wretched caverns, the lodging houses and tenements, sordid scenes of garbage, repulsive filth, and worse.
What was - and still is - bound to happen some day, when the stream of unleashed slaves pours forth from these miserable dens to avenge themselves on their thoughtless fellow men?
For thoughtless they are!
Thoughtlessly they let things slide along, and with their utter lack of intuition fail even to suspect that sooner or later Fate must bring retribution, unless men conciliate Fate while there is still time. How thankful I am today to the Providence which sent me to that school! In it I could no longer sabotage the subjects I did not like. It educated me quickly and thoroughly.
If I did not wish to despair of the men who constituted my environment at that time, I had to learn to distinguish between their external characters and lives and the foundations of their development. Only then could all this be borne without losing heart. Then, from all the misery and despair, from all the filth and ******d degeneration, it was no longer human beings that emerged, but the deplorable results of deplorable laws; and the hardship of my own life, no easier than the others, preserved me from capitulating in tearful sentimentality to the degenerate products of this process of development.
No, this is not the way to understand all these things!
Even then I saw that only a two-fold road could lead to the goal of improving these conditions:
The deepest sense of social responsibility for the creation of better foundations for our development, coupled with brutal determination on breaking down incurable tenors.
Just as Nature does not concentrate her greatest attention in preserving what exists, but in breeding offspring to carry on the species, likewise, in human life, it is less important artificially to alleviate existing evil, which, in view of human nature, is ninety-nine per cent impossible, than to ensure from the start healthier channels for a future development.
During my struggle for existence in Vienna, it had become clear to me that social activity must never and on no account be directed toward philanthropic flim-flam, but rather toward the elimination of the basic deficiencies in the organization of our economic and cultural life that must - or at all events can - lead to the degeneration of the individual.
The difficulty of applying the most extreme and brutal methods against the criminals who endanger the state lies not least in the uncertainty of our judgment of the inner motives or causes of such contemporary phenomena.
This uncertainty is only too well founded in our own sense of guilt regarding such tragedies of degeneration; be that as it may, it paralyzes any serious and firm decision and is thus partly responsible for the weak and half-hearted, because hesitant, execution of even the most necessary measures of self-preservation.
Only when an epoch ceases to be haunted by the shadow of its own consciousness of guilt will it achieve the inner calm and ******d strength brutally and ruthlessly to prune off the wild shoots and tear out the weeds.
Since the Austrian state had practically no social legislation or jurisprudence, its weakness in combating even malignant tumors was glaring.
I do not know what horrified me most at that time: the economic misery of my companions, their moral and ethical coarseness, or the low level of their intellectual development.
How often does our bourgeoisie rise in high moral indignation when they hear some miserable tramp declare that it is all the same to him whether he is a German or not, that he feels equally happy wherever he is, as long as he has enough to live on!
This lack of 'national pride' is most profoundly deplored, and horror at such an attitude is expressed in no uncertain terms.
How many people have asked themselves what was the real reason for the superiority of their own sentiments?
How many are aware of the infinite number of separate memories of the greatness of our national fatherland in all the fields of cultural and artistic life, whose total result is to inspire them with just pride at being members of a nation so blessed?
How many suspect to how great an extent pride in the fatherland depends on knowledge of its greatness in all these fields?
Do our bourgeois circles ever stop to consider to what an absurdly small extent this prerequisite of pride in the fatherland is transmitted to the 'people'?
Let us not try to condone this by saying that 'it is no better in other countries,' and that in those countries the worker avows his nationality 'notwithstanding.' Even if this were so, it could serve as no excuse for our own omissions. But it is not so; for the thing that we constantly designate as 'chauvinistic' education; for example among the French people, is nothing other than extreme emphasis on the greatness of France in all the fields of culture, or, as the Frenchman puts it, of 'civilization.' The fact is that the young Frenchman is not brought up to be objective, but is instilled with the most subjective conceivable view, in so far as the importance of the political or cultural greatness of his fatherland is concerned.
This education will always have to be limited to general and extremely broad values which, if necessary, must be engraved in the memory and feeling of the people by eternal repetition.
But to the negative sin of omission is added in our country the positive destruction of the little which the individual has the good fortune to learn in school. The rats that politically poison our nation gnaw even this little from the heart and memory of the broad masses, insofar as this has not been previously accomplished by poverty and suffering.
Imagine, for instance, the following scene:
In a basement apartment, consisting of two stuffy rooms, dwells a worker's family of seven. Among the five children there is a boy of, let us assume, three years. This is the age in which the first impressions are made on the consciousness of the child. Talented persons retain traces of memory from this period down to advanced old age. The very narrowness and overcrowding of the room does not lead to favorable conditions. Quarreling and wrangling will very frequently arise as a result. In these circumstances, people do not live with one another, they press against one another. Every argument, even the most trifling, which in a spacious apartment can be reconciled by a mild segregation, thus solving itself, here leads to loathsome wrangling without end. Among the children, of course, this is still bearable; they always fight under such circumstances, and among themselves they quickly and thoroughly forget about it. But if this battle is carried on between the parents themselves, and almost every day in forms which for vulgarity often leave nothing to be desired, then, if only very gradually, the results of such visual instruction must ultimately become apparent in the children. The character they will inevitably assume if this mutual quarrel takes the form of brutal attacks of the father against the mother, of drunken beatings, is hard for anyone who does not know this milieu to imagine. At the age of six the pitiable little boy suspects the existence of things which can inspire even an adult with nothing but horror. Morally poisoned, physically undernourished, his poor little head full of lice, the young 'citizen' goes off to public school. After a great struggle he may learn to read and write, but that is about all. His doing any homework is out of the question. On the contrary, the very mother and father, even in the presence of the children, talk about his teacher and school in terms which are not fit to be repeated, and are more inclined to curse the latter to their face than to take their little offspring across their knees and teach them some sense. All the other things that the little fellow hears at home do not tend to increase his respect for his dear fellow men. Nothing good remains of humanity, no institution remains unassailed; beginning with his teacher and up to the head of the government, whether it is a question of religion or of morality as such, of the state or society, it is all the same, everything is reviled in the most obscene terms and dragged into the filth of the basest possible outlook. When at the age of fourteen the young man is discharged from school, it is hard to decide what is stronger in him: his incredible stupidity as far as any real knowledge and ability are concerned, or the corrosive insolence of his behavior, combined with an immorality, even at this age, which would make your hair stand on end.
What position can this man - to whom even now hardly anything is holy, who, just as he has encountered no greatness conversely suspects and knows all the sordidness of life - occupy in the life into which he is now preparing to emerge?
The three-year-old child has become a fifteen-year-old despiser of all authority. Thus far, aside from dirt and filth, this young man has seen nothing which might inspire him to any higher enthusiasm.
But only now does he enter the real university of this existence.
Now he begins the same life which all along his childhood years he has seen his father living. He hangs around the street corners and bars, coming home God knows when; and for a change now and then he beats the broken-down being which was once his mother, curses God and the world, and at length is convicted of some particular offense and sent to a house of correction.
There he receives his last polish.
And his dear bourgeois fellow men are utterly amazed at the lack of 'national enthusiasm' in this young 'citizen.'
Day by day, in the theater and in the movies, in backstairs literature and the yellow press, they see the poison poured into the people by bucketfuls, and then they are amazed at the low 'moral content,' the 'national indifference,' of the masses of the people.
As though trashy films, yellow press, and such-like dung could furnish the foundations of a knowledge of the greatness of our fatherland! - quite aside from the early education of the individual.
What I had never suspected before, I quickly and thoroughly learned in those years:
The question of the 'nationalization' of a people is, among other things, primarily a question of creating healthy social conditions as a foundation for the possibility of educating the individual. For only those who through school and upbringing learn to know the cultural, economic, but above all the political, greatness of their own fatherland can and will achieve the inner pride in the privilege of being a member of such a people. And I can fight only for something that I love, love only what I respect, and respect only what I at least know.
Once my interest in the social question was aroused, I began to study it with all thoroughness. It was a new and hitherto unknown world which opened before me.
In the years 1909 and 1910, my own situation had changed somewhat in so far as I no longer had to earn my daily bread as a common laborer. By this time I was working independently as a small draftsman and painter of watercolors. Hard as this was with regard to earnings - it was barely enough to live on - it was good for my chosen profession. Now I was no longer dead tired in the evening when I came home from work, unable to look at a book without soon dozing off. My present work ran parallel to my future profession. Moreover, I was master of my own time and could apportion it better than had previously been possible.
I painted to make a living and studied for pleasure.
Thus I was able to supplement my visual instruction in the social problem by theoretical study. I studied more or less all of the books I was able to obtain regarding this whole field, and for the rest immersed myself in my own thoughts.
I believe that those who knew me in those days took me for an eccentric.
Amid all this, as was only natural, I served my love of architecture with ardent zeal. Along with music, it seemed to me the queen of the arts: under such circumstances my concern with it was not 'work,' but the greatest pleasure. I could read and draw until late into the night, and never grow tired. Thus my faith grew that my beautiful dream for the future would become reality after all, even though this might require long years. I was firmly convinced that I should some day make a name for myself as an architect.
In addition, I had the greatest interest in everything connected with politics, but this did not seem to me very significant. On the contrary: in my eyes this was the self-evident duty of every thinking man. Anyone who failed to understand this lost the right to any criticism or complaint.
In this field, too, I read and studied much.
By 'reading,' to be sure, I mean perhaps something different than the average member of our so-called 'intelligentsia.'
I know people who 'read' enormously, book for book, letter for letter, yet whom I would not describe as 'well-read.' True they possess a mass of 'knowledge,' but their brain is unable to organize and register the material they have taken in. They lack the art of sifting what is valuable for them in a book from that which is without value, of retaining the one forever, and, if possible, not even seeing the rest, but in any case not dragging it around with them as useless ballast. For reading is no end in itself, but a means to an end. It should primarily help to fill the framework constituted by every man's talents and abilities; in addition, it should provide the tools and building materials which the individual needs for his life's work, regardless whether this consists in a primitive struggle for sustenance or the satisfaction of a high calling; secondly, it should transmit a general world view. In both cases, however, it is essential that the content of what one reads at any time should not be transmitted to the memory in the sequence of the book or books, but like the stone of a mosaic should fit into the general world picture in its proper place, and thus help to form this picture in the mind of the reader. Otherwise there arises a confused muddle of memorized facts which not only are worthless, but also make their unto fortunate possessor conceited. For such a reader now believes himself in all seriousness to be 'educated,' to understand something of life, to have knowledge, while in reality, with every new acquisition of this kind of 'education,' he is growing more and more removed from the world until, not infrequently, he ends up in a sanitarium or in parliament. Never will such a mind succeed in culling from the confusion of his 'knowledge' anything that suits the demands of the hour, for his intellectual ballast is not organized along the lines of life, but in the sequence of the books as he read them and as their content has piled up in his brain. If Fate, in the requirements of his daily life, desired to remind him to make a correct application of what he had read, it would have to indicate title and page number, since the poor fool would otherwise never in all his life find the correct place. But since Fate does not do this, these bright boys in any critical situation come into the most terrible embarrassment, cast about convulsively for analogous cases, and with mortal certainty naturally find the wrong formulas.
If this were not true, it would be impossible for us to understand the political behavior of our learned and highly placed government heroes, unless we decided to assume outright villainy instead of pathological propensities.
On the other hand, a man who possesses the art of correct reading will, in studying any book, magazine, or pamphlet, instinctively and immediately perceive everything which in his opinion is worth permanently remembering, either because it is suited to his purpose or generally worth knowing. Once the knowledge he has achieved in this fashion is correctly coordinated within the somehow existing picture of this or that subject created by the imaginations it will function either as a corrective or a complement, thus enhancing either the correctness or the clarity of the picture. Then, if life suddenly sets some question before us for examination or answer, the memory, if this method of reading is observed, will immediately take the existing picture as a norm, and from it will derive all the individual items regarding these questions, assembled in the course of decades, submit them to the mind for examination and reconsideration, until the question is clarified or answered.
Only this kind of reading has meaning and purpose.
An orator, for example, who does not thus provide his intelligence with the necessary foundation will never be in a position cogently to defend his view in the face of opposition, though it may be a thousand times true or real. In every discussion his memory will treacherously leave him in the lurch; he will find neither grounds for reinforcing his own contentions nor any for confuting those of his adversary. If, as in the case of a speaker, it is only a question of making a fool of himself personally, it may not be so bad, but not so when Fate predestines such a know-it-all incompetent to be the leader of a state.
Since my earliest youth I have endeavored to read in the correct way, and in this endeavor I have been most happily supported by my memory and intelligence. Viewed in this light, my Vienna period was especially fertile and valuable. The experiences of daily life provided stimulation for a constantly renewed study of the most varied problems. Thus at last I was in a position to bolster up reality by theory and test theory by reality, and was preserved from being stifled by theory or growing banal through reality.
In this period the experience of daily life directed and stimulated me to the most thorough theoretical study of two questions in addition to the social question.
Who knows when I would have immersed myself in the doctrines and essence of Marxism if that period had not literally thrust my nose into the problem!
What I knew of Social Democracy in my youth was exceedingly little and very inaccurate.
I was profoundly pleased that it should carry on the struggle for universal suffrage and the secret ballot. For even then my intelligence told me that this must help to weaken the Habsburg regime which I so hated. In the conviction that the Austrian Empire could never be preserved except by victimizing its Germans, but that even the price of a gradual Slavization of the German element by no means provided a guaranty of an empire really capable of survival, since the power of the Slavs to uphold the state must be estimated as exceedingly dubious, I welcomed every development which in my opinion would inevitably lead to the collapse of this impossible state which condemned ten million Germans to death. The more the linguistic Babel corroded and disorganized parliament, the closer drew the inevitable hour of the disintegration of this Babylonian Empire, and with it the hour of freedom for my German-Austrian people. Only in this way could the Anschluss with the old mother country be restored.
Consequently, this activity of the Social Democracy was not displeasing to me. And the fact that it strove to improve the living conditions of the worker, as, in my innocence, I was still stupid enough to believe, likewise seemed to speak rather for it than against it. What most repelled me was its hostile attitude toward the struggle for the preservation of Germanism, its disgraceful courting of the Slavic 'comrade,' who accepted this declaration of love in so far as it was bound up with practical concessions, but otherwise maintained a lofty and arrogant reserve, thus giving the obtrusive beggars their deserved reward.
Thus, at the age of seventeen the word 'Marxism' was as yet little known to me, while 'Social Democracy' and socialism seemed to me identical concepts. Here again it required the fist of Fate to open my eyes to this unprecedented betrayal of the peoples.
Up to that time I had known the Social Democratic Party only as an onlooker at a few mass demonstrations, without possessing even the slightest insight into the mentality of its adherents or the nature of its doctrine; but now, at one stroke, I came into contact with the products of its education and 'philosophy.' And in a few months I obtained what might otherwise have required decades: an understanding of a pestilential whore, cloaking herself as social virtue and brotherly love, from which I hope humanity will rid this earth with the greatest dispatch, since otherwise the earth might well become rid of humanity.
My first encounter with the Social Democrats occurred during my employment as a building worker.
From the very beginning it was none too pleasant. My clothing was still more or less in order, my speech cultivated, and my manner reserved. I was still so busy with my own destiny that I could not concern myself much with the people around me. I looked for work only to avoid starvation, only to obtain an opportunity of continuing my education, though ever so slowly. Perhaps I would not have concerned myself at all with my new environment if on the third or fourth day an event had not taken place which forced me at once to take a position. I was asked to join the organization.
My knowledge of trade-union organization was at that time practically non-existent. I could not have proved that its existence was either beneficial or harmful. When I was told that I had to join, I refused. The reason I gave was that I did not understand the matter, but that I would not let myself be forced into anything. Perhaps my first reason accounts for my not being thrown out at once. They may perhaps have hoped to convert me or break down my resistance in a few days. In any event, they had made a big mistake. At the end of two weeks I could no longer have joined, even if I had wanted to. In these two weeks I came to know the men around me more closely, and no power in the world could have moved me to join an organization whose members had meanwhile come to appear to me in so unfavorable a light.
During the first days I was irritable.
At noon some of the workers went to the nearby taverns while others remained at the building site and ate a lunch which, as a rule was quite wretched. These were the married men whose wives brought them their noonday soup in pathetic bowls. Toward the end of the week their number always increased, why I did not understand until later. On these occasions politics was discussed.
I drank my bottle of milk and ate my piece of bread somewhere off to one side, and cautiously studied my new associates or reflected on my miserable lot. Nevertheless, I heard more than enough; and often it seemed to me that they purposely moved closer to me, perhaps in order to make me take a position. In any case, what I heard was of such a nature as to infuriate me in the extreme. These men rejected everything: the nation as an invention of the 'capitalistic' (how often was I forced to hear this single word!) classes; the fatherland as an instrument of the bourgeoisie for the exploitation of the working class; the authority of law as a means for oppressing the proletariat; the school as an institution for breeding slaves and slaveholders; religion as a means for stultifying the people and making them easier to exploit; morality as a symptom of stupid, sheeplike patience, etc. There was absolutely nothing which was not drawn through the mud of a terrifying depths
At first I tried to keep silent. But at length it became impossible. I began to take a position and to oppose them. But I was forced to recognize that this was utterly hopeless until I possessed certain definite knowledge of the controversial points. And so I began to examine the sources from which they drew this supposed wisdom. I studied book after book, pamphlet after pamphlet.
From then on our discussions at work were often very heated. I argued back, from day to day better informed than my antagonists concerning their own knowledge, until one day they made use of the weapon which most readily conquers reason: terror and violence. A few of the spokesmen on the opposing side forced me either to leave the building at once or be thrown off the scaffolding. Since I was alone and resistance seemed hopeless, I preferred, richer by one experience, to follow the former counsel.
I went away filled with disgust, but at the same time so agitated that it would have been utterly impossible for me to turn my back on the whole business. No, after the first surge of indignation, my stubbornness regained the upper hand. I was determined to go to work on another building in spite of my experience. In this decision I was reinforced by Poverty which, a few weeks later, after I had spent what little I had saved from my wages, enfolded me in her heartless arms. I had to go back whether I wanted to or not. The same old story began anew and ended very much the same as the first time.
I wrestled with my innermost soul: are these people human, worthy to belong to a great nation?
A painful question; for if it is answered in the affirmative, the struggle for my nationality really ceases to be worth the hardships and sacrifices which the best of us have to make for the sake of such scum; and if it is answered in the negative, our nation is pitifully poor in human beings.
On such days of reflection and cogitation, I pondered with anxious concern on the masses of those no longer belonging to their people and saw them swelling to the proportions of a menacing army.
With what changed feeling I now gazed at the endless columns of a mass demonstration of Viennese workers that took place one day as they marched past four abreast! For neatly two hours I stood there watching with bated breath the gigantic human dragon slowly winding by. In oppressed anxiety, I finally left the place and sauntered homeward. In a tobacco shop on the way I saw the Arbeiter-Zeitung, the central organ of the old Austrian Social Democracy. It was available in a cheap people's cafe, to which I often went to read newspapers; but up to that time I had not been able to bring myself to spend more than two minutes on the miserable sheet, whose whole tone affected me like moral vitriol. Depressed by the demonstration, I was driven on by an inner voice to buy the sheet and read it carefully. That evening I did so, fighting down the fury that rose up in me from time to time at this concentrated solution of lies.
More than any theoretical literature, my daily reading of the Social Democratic press enabled me to study the inner nature of these thought-processes.
For what a difference between the glittering phrases about freedom, beauty, and dignity in the theoretical literature, the delusive welter of words seemingly expressing the most profound and laborious wisdom, the loathsome humanitarian morality - all this written with the incredible gall that comes with prophetic certainty - and the brutal daily press, shunning no villainy, employing every means of slander, lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams, all in the name of this gospel of a new humanity. The one is addressed to the simpletons of the middle, not to mention the upper, educated, 'classes,' the other to the masses.
For me immersion in the literature and press of this doctrine and organization meant finding my way back to my own people. What had seemed to me an unbridgeable gulf became the source of a greater love than ever before.
Only a fool can behold the work of this villainous poisoner and still condemn the victim. The more independent I made myself in the next few years the clearer grew my perspective, hence my insight into the inner causes of the Social Democratic successes. I now understood the significance of the brutal demand that I read only Red papers, attend only Red meetings, read only Red books, etc. With plastic clarity I saw before my eyes the inevitable result of this doctrine of intolerance.
The psyche of the great masses is not receptive to anything that is half-hearted and weak.
Like the woman, whose psychic state is determined less by grounds of abstract reason than by an indefinable emotional longing for a force which will complement her nature, and who, consequently, would rather bow to a strong man than dominate a weakling, likewise the masses love a commander more than a petitioner and feel inwardly more satisfied by a doctrine, tolerating no other beside itself, than by the granting of liberalistic freedom with which, as a rule, they can do little, and are prone to feel that they have been abandoned. They are equally unaware of their shameless spiritual terrorization and the hideous abuse of their human freedom, or they absolutely fail to suspect the inner insanity of the whole doctrine. All they see is the ruthless force and brutality of its calculated manifestations, to which they always submit in the end.
If Social Democracy is opposed by a doctrine of greater truth, but equal brutality of methods, the latter will conquer, though this may require the bitterest struggle.
Before two years had passed, the theory as well as the technical methods of Social Democracy were clear to me.
I understood the infamous spiritual terror which this movement exerts, particularly on the bourgeoisie, which is neither morally nor mentally equal to such attacks; at a given sign it unleashes a veritable barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary seems most dangerous, until the nerves of the attacked persons break down and, just to have peace again, they sacrifice the hated individual.
However, the fools obtain no peace.
The game begins again and is repeated over and over until fear of the mad dog results in suggestive paralysis.
Since the Social Democrats best know the value of force from their own experience, they most violently attack those in whose nature they detect any of this substance which is so rare. Conversely, they praise every weakling on the opposing side, sometimes cautiously, sometimes loudly, depending on the real or supposed quality of his intelligence.
They fear an impotent, spineless genius less than a forceful nature of moderate intelligence.
But with the greatest enthusiasm they commend weaklings in both mind and force.
They know how to create the illusion that this is the only way of preserving the peace, and at the same time, stealthily but steadily, they conquer one position after another, sometimes by silent blackmail, sometimes by actual theft, at moments when the general attention is directed toward other matters, and either does not want to be disturbed or considers the matter too small to raise a stir about, thus again irritating the vicious antagonist.
This is a tactic based on precise calculation of all human weaknesses, and its result will lead to success with almost mathematical certainty unless the opposing side learns to combat poison gas with poison gas.
It is our duty to inform all weaklings that this is a question of to be or not to be. I achieved an equal understanding of the importance of physical terror toward the individual and the masses.
Here, too, the psychological effect can be calculated with precision.
Terror at the place of employment, in the factory, in the meeting hall, and on the occasion of mass demonstrations will always be successful unless opposed by equal terror.
In this case, to be sure, the party will cry bloody murder; though it has long despised all state authority, it will set up a howling cry for that same authority and in most cases will actually attain its goal amid the general confusion: it will find some idiot of a higher official who, in the imbecilic hope of propitiating the feared adversary for later eventualities, will help this world plague to break its opponent.
The impression made by such a success on the minds of the great masses of supporters as well as opponents can only be measured by those who know the soul of a people, not from books, but from life. For while in the ranks of their supporters the victory achieved seems a triumph of the justice of their own cause, the defeated adversary in most cases despairs of the success of any further resistance.
The more familiar I became, principally with the methods of physical terror, the more indulgent I grew toward all the hundreds of thousands who succumbed to it.
What makes me most indebted to that period of suffering is that it alone gave back to me my people, taught me to distinguish the victims from their seducers.
The results of this seduction can be designated only as victims. For if I attempted to draw a few pictures from life, depicting the essence of these 'lowest' classes, my picture would not be complete without the assurance that in these depths I also found bright spots in the form of a rare willingness to make sacrifices, of loyal comradeship, astonishing frugality, and modest reserve, especially among the older workers. Even though these virtues were steadily vanishing in the younger generation, if only through the general effects of the big city, there were many, even among the young men, whose healthy blood managed to dominate the foul tricks of life. If in their political activity, these good, often kind-hearted people nevertheless joined the mortal enemies of our nationality, thus helping to cement their ranks, the reason was that they neither understood nor could understand the baseness of the new doctrine, and that no one else took the trouble to bother about them, and finally that the social conditions were stronger than any will to the contrary that may have been present. The poverty to which they sooner or later succumbed drove them into the camp of the Social
Since on innumerable occasions the bourgeoisie has in the clumsiest and most immoral way opposed demands which were justified from the universal human point of view, often without obtaining or even justifiably expecting any profit from such an attitude, even the most self-respecting worker was driven out of the trade-union organization into political activity.
Millions of workers, I am sure, started out as enemies of the Social Democratic Party in their innermost soul, but their resistance was overcome in a way which was sometimes utterly insane; that is, when the bourgeois parties adopted a hostile attitude toward every demand of a social character. Their simple, narrow-minded rejection of all attempts to better working conditions, to introduce safety devices on machines, to prohibit child labor and protect the woman, at least in the months when she was bearing the future national comrade under her heart, contributed to drive the masses into the net of Social Democracy which gratefully snatched at every case of such a disgraceful attitude. Never can our political bourgeoisie make good its sins in this direction, for by resisting all attempts to do away with social abuses, they sowed hatred and seemed to justify even the assertions of the mortal enemies of the entire nation, to the effect that only the Social Democratic Party represented the interests of the working people.
Thus, to begin with, they created the moral basis for the actual existence of the trade unions, the organization which has always been the most effective pander to the political party.
In my Viennese years I was forced, whether I liked it or not, to take a position on the trade unions.
Since I regarded them as an inseparable ingredient of the Social Democratic Party as such, my decision was instantaneous and mistaken.
I flatly rejected them without thinking.
And in this infinitely important question, as in so many others, Fate itself became my instructor.
The result was a reversal of my first judgment.
By my twentieth year I had learned to distinguish between a union as a means of defending the general social rights of the wage-earner, and obtaining better living conditions for him as an individual, and the trade union as an instrument of the party in the political class struggle.
The fact that Social Democracy understood the enormous importance of the trade-union movement assured it of this instrument and hence of success; the fact that the bourgeoisie were not aware of this cost them their political position. They thought they could stop a logical development by means of an impertinent 'rejection,' but in reality they only forced it into illogical channels. For to call the trade-union movement in itself unpatriotic is nonsense and untrue to boot. Rather the contrary is true. If trade-union activity strives and succeeds in bettering the lot of a class which is one of the basic supports of the nation, its work is not only not anti-patriotic or seditious, but 'national' in the truest sense of the word. For in this way it helps to create the social premises without which a general national education is unthinkable. It wins the highest merit by eliminating social cankers, attacking intellectual as well as physical infections, and thus helping to contribute to the general health of the body politic.
Consequently, the question of their necessity is really superfluous.
As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in a social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people's wealth.
Both of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do not feel themselves to be members of the national community as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness grow profound evils for the future.
To eliminate the causes of such a development is to do a service to the nation and in no sense the opposite.
Let no one say that every individual is free to draw the consequences from an actual or supposed injustice; in other words, to leave his job. No! This is shadowboxing and must be regarded as an attempt to divert attention. Either the elimination of bad, unsocial conditions serves the interest of the nation or it does not. If it does, the struggle against them must be carried on with weapons which offer the hope of success. The individual worker, however, is never in a position to defend himself against the power of the great industrialist, for in such matters it cannot be superior justice that conquers (if that were recognized, the whole struggle would stop from lack of cause) - no, what matters here is superior power. Otherwise the sense of justice alone would bring the struggle to a fair conclusion, or, more accurately speaking, the struggle could never arise.
No, if the unsocial or unworthy treatment of men calls for resistance, this struggle, as long as no legal judicial authorities have been created for the elimination of these evils, can only be decided by superior power. And this makes it obvious that the power of the employer concentrated in a single person can only be countered by the mass of employees banded into a single person, if the possibility of a victory is not to be renounced in advance.
Thus, trade-union organization can lead to a strengthening of the social idea in its practical effects on daily life, and thereby to an elimination of irritants which are constantly giving cause for dissatisfaction and complaints.
If this is not the case, it is to a great extent the fault of those who have been able to place obstacles in the path of any legal regulation of social evils or thwart them by means of their political influence.
Proportionately as the political bourgeoisie did not understand, or rather did not want to understand, the importance of trade-union organization, and resisted it, the Social Democrats took possession of the contested movement. Thus, far-sightedly it created a firm foundation which on several critical occasions has stood up when all other supports failed. In this way the intrinsic purpose was gradually submerged, making place for new aims.
It never occurred to the Social Democrats to limit the movement they had thus captured to its original task.
No, that was far from their intention.
In a few decades the weapon for defending the social rights of man had, in their experienced hands? Become an instrument for the destruction of the national economy. And they did not let themselves be hindered in the least by the interests of the workers. For in politics, as in other fields, the use of economic pressure always permits blackmail, as long as the necessary unscrupulousness is present on the one side, and sufficient sheeplike patience on the other.
Something which in this case was true of both sides
By the turn of the century, the trade-union movement had ceased to serve its former function. From year to year it had entered more and more into the sphere of Social Democratic politics and finally had no use except as a battering-ram in the class struggle. Its purpose was to cause the collapse of the whole arduously constructed economic edifice by persistent blows, thus, the more easily, after removing its economic foundations, to prepare the same lot for the edifice of state. Less and less attention was paid to defending the real needs of the working class, and finally political expediency made it seem undesirable to relieve the social or cultural miseries of the broad masses at all, for otherwise there was a risk that these masses, satisfied in their desires could no longer be used forever as docile shocktroops.
The leaders of the class struggle looked on this development with such dark foreboding and dread that in the end they rejected any really beneficial social betterment out of hand, and actually attacked it with the greatest determination.
And they were never at a loss for an explanation of a line of behavior which seemed so inexplicable.
By screwing the demands higher and higher, they made their possible fulfillment seem so trivial and unimportant that they were able at all times to tell the masses that they were dealing with nothing but a diabolical attempt to weaken, if possible in fact to paralyze, the offensive power of the working class in the cheapest way, by such a ridiculous satisfaction of the most elementary rights. In view of the great masses' small capacity for thought, we need not be surprised at the success of these methods.
The bourgeois camp was indignant at this obvious insincerity of Social Democratic tactics, but did not draw from it the slightest inference with regard to their own conduct. The Social Democrats' fear of really raising the working class out of the depths of their cultural and social misery should have inspired the greatest exertions in this very direction, thus gradually wrestling the weapon from the hands of the advocates of the class struggle.
This, however, was not done.
Instead of attacking and seizing the enemy's position, the bourgeoisie preferred to let themselves be pressed to the wall and finally had recourse to utterly inadequate makeshifts, which remained ineffectual because they came too late, and, moreover, were easy to reject because they were too insignificant. Thus, in reality, everything remained as before, except that the discontent was greater.
Like a menacing storm-cloud, the 'free trade union' hung, even then, over the political horizon and the existence of the individual.
It was one of the most frightful instruments of terror against the security and independence of the national economy, the solidity of the state, and personal freedom.
And chiefly this was what made the concept of democracy a sordid and ridiculous phrase, and held up brotherhood to everlasting scorn in the words: 'And if our comrade you won't be, we'll bash your head in-one, two, three!'
And that was how I became acquainted with this friend of humanity. In the course of the years my view was broadened and deepened, but I have had no need to change it. The greater insight I gathered into the external character of Social Democracy, the greater became my longing to comprehend the inner core of this doctrine. The official party literature was not much use for this purpose. Insofar as it deals with economic questions, its assertions and proofs are false; insofar as it treats of political aims, it lies. Moreover, I was inwardly repelled by the newfangled pettifogging phraseology and the style in which it was written. With an enormous expenditure of words, unclear in content or incomprehensible as to meaning, they stammer an endless hodgepodge of phrases purportedly as witty as in reality they are meaningless. Only our decadent metropolitan bohemians can feel at home in this maze of reasoning and cull an 'inner experience' from this dung-heap of literary dadaism, supported by the proverbial modesty of a section of our people who always detect profound wisdom in what is most incomprehensible to them personally. However, by balancing the theoretical untruth and nonsense of this doctrine with the reality of the phenomenon, I gradually obtained a clear picture of its intrinsic will.
At such times I was overcome by gloomy foreboding and malignant fear. Then I saw before me a doctrine, comprised of egotism and hate, which can lead to victory pursuant to mathematical laws, but in so doing must put an end to humanity.
Meanwhile, I had learned to understand the connection between this doctrine of destruction and the nature of a people of which, up to that time, I had known next to nothing.
Only a knowledge of the Jews provides the key with which to comprehend the inner, and consequently real, aims of Social Democracy.
The erroneous conceptions of the aim and meaning of this party fall from our eyes like veils, once we come to know this people, and from the fog and mist of social phrases rises the leering grimace of Marxism.
Today it is difficult, if not impossible, for me to say when the word 'Jew ' first gave me ground for special thoughts. At home I do not remember having heard the word during my father's lifetime. I believe that the old gentleman would have regarded any special emphasis on this term as cultural backwardness. In the course of his life he had arrived at more or less cosmopolitan views which, despite his pronounced national sentiments, not only remained intact, but also affected me to some extent.
Likewise at school I found no occasion which could have led me to change this inherited picture.
At the Realschule, to be sure, I did meet one Jewish boy who was treated by all of us with caution, but only because various experiences had led us to doubt his discretion and we did not particularly trust him; but neither I nor the others had any thoughts on the matter.
Not until my fourteenth or fifteenth year did I begin to come across the word 'Jew,' with any frequency, partly in connection with political discussions. This filled me with a mild distaste, and I could not rid myself of an unpleasant feeling that always came over me whenever religious quarrels occurred in my presence.
At that time I did not think anything else of the question.
There were few Jews in Linz. In the course of the centuries their ******d appearance had become Europeanized and had taken on a human look; in fact, I even took them for Germans. The absurdity of this idea did not dawn on me because I saw no distinguishing feature but the strange religion. The fact that they had, as I believed, been persecuted on this account sometimes almost turned my distaste at unfavorable remarks about them into horror.
Thus far I did not so much as suspect the existence of an organized opposition to the Jews.
Then I came to Vienna.
Preoccupied by the abundance of my impressions in the architectural field, oppressed by the hardship of my own lot, I gained at first no insight into the inner stratification of the people in this gigantic city. Notwithstanding that Vienna in those days counted nearly two hundred thousand Jews among its two million inhabitants, I did not see them. In the first few weeks my eyes and my senses were not equal to the flood of values and ideas. Not until calm gradually returned and the agitated picture began to clear did I look around me more carefully in my new world, and then among other things I encountered the Jewish question.
I cannot maintain that the way in which I became acquainted with them struck me as particularly pleasant. For the Jew was still characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of religious attacks in this case as in others. Consequently, the tone, particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press, seemed to me unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation. I was oppressed by the memory of certain occurrences in the Middle Ages, which I should not have liked to see repeated. Since the newspapers in question did not enjoy an outstanding reputation (the reason for this, at that time, I myself did not precisely know), I regarded them more as the products of anger and envy than the results of a principled though perhaps mistaken, point of view.
I was reinforced in this opinion by what seemed to me the far more dignified form in which the really big papers answered all these attacks, or, what seemed to me even more praiseworthy, failed to mention them; in other words, simply killed them with silence.
I zealously read the so-called world press (Neue Freie Presse, Wiener Tageblatt, etc.) and was amazed at the scope of what they offered their readers and the objectivity of individual articles. I respected the exalted tone, though the flamboyance of the style sometimes caused me inner dissatisfaction, or even struck me unpleasantly. Yet this may have been due to the rhythm of life in the whole metropolis.
Since in those days I saw Vienna in that light, I thought myself justified in accepting this explanation of mine as a valid excuse.
But what sometimes repelled me was the undignified fashion in which this press curried favor with the Court. There was scarcely an event in the Hofburg which was not imparted to the readers either with raptures of enthusiasm or plaintive emotion, and all this to-do, particularly when it dealt with the 'wisest monarch' of all time, almost reminded me of the mating cry of a mountain cock.
To me the whole thing seemed artificial.
In my eyes it was a blemish upon liberal democracy.
To curry favor with this Court and in such indecent forms was to sacrifice the dignity of the nation.
This was the first shadow to darken my intellectual relationship with the 'big' Viennese press.
As I had always done before, I continued in Vienna to follow events in Germany with ardent zeal, quite regardless whether they were political or cultural. With pride and admiration, I compared the rise of the Reich with the wasting away of the Austrian state. If events in the field of foreign politics filled me, by and large, with undivided joy, the less gratifying aspects of internal life often aroused anxiety and gloom. The struggle which at that time was being carried on against William II did not meet with my approval. I regarded him not only as the German Emperor, but first and foremost as the creator of a German fleet. The restrictions of speech imposed on the Kaiser by the Reichstag angered me greatly because they emanated from a source which in my opinion really hadn't a leg to stand on, since in a single session these parliamentarian imbeciles gabbled more nonsense than a whole dynasty of emperors, including its very weakest numbers, could ever have done in centuries.
I was outraged that in a state where every idiot not only claimed the right to criticize, but was given a seat in the Reichstag and let loose upon the nation as a 'lawgiver,' the man who bore the imperial crown had to take 'reprimands' from the greatest babblers' club of all time.
But I was even more indignant that the same Viennese press which made the most obsequious bows to every rickety horse in the Court, and flew into convulsions of joy if he accidentally swished his tail, should, with supposed concern, yet, as it seemed to me, ill-concealed malice, express its criticisms of the German Kaiser. Of course it had no intention of interfering with conditions within the German Reich - oh, no, God forbid - but by placing its finger on these wounds in the friendliest way, it was fulfilling the duty imposed by the spirit of the mutual alliance, and, conversely, fulfilling the requirements of journalistic truth, etc. And now it was poking this finger around in the wound to its heart's content.
In such cases the blood rose to my head.
It was this which caused me little by little to view the big papers with greater caution.
And on one such occasion I was forced to recognize that one of the anti-Semitic papers, the Deutsches Volksblatt, behaved more decently.
Another thing that got on my nerves was the loathsome cult for France which the big press, even then, carried on. A man couldn't help feeling ashamed to be a German when he saw these saccharine hymns of praise to the 'great cultural nation.' This wretched licking of France's boots more than once made me throw down one of these 'world newspapers.' And on such occasions I sometimes picked up the Volksblatt, which, to be sure, seemed to me much smaller, but in these matters somewhat more appetizing. I was not in agreement with the sharp anti-Semitic tone, but from time to time I read arguments which gave me some food for thought.
At all events, these occasions slowly made me acquainted with the man and the movement, which in those days guided Vienna's destinies: Dr. Karl Lueger I and the Christian Social Party.
When I arrived in Vienna, I was hostile to both of them.
The man and the movement seemed 'reactionary' in my eyes.
My common sense of justice, however, forced me to change this judgment in proportion as I had occasion to become acquainted with the man and his work; and slowly my fair judgment turned to unconcealed admiration. Today, more than ever, I regard this man as the greatest German mayor of all times.
How many of my basic principles were upset by this change in my attitude toward the Christian Social movement!
My views with regard to anti-Semitism thus succumbed to the passage of time, and this was my greatest transformation of all.
It cost me the greatest inner soul struggles, and only after months of battle between my reason and my sentiments did my reason begin to emerge victorious. Two years later, my sentiment had followed my reason, and from then on became its most loyal guardian and sentinel.
At the time of this bitter struggle between spiritual education and cold reason, the visual instruction of the Vienna streets had performed invaluable services. There came a time when I no longer, as in the first days, wandered blindly through the mighty city; now with open eyes I saw not only the buildings but also the people. Once, as I was strolling through the Inner City, I suddenly encountered an apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks. Is this a Jew? was my first thought.
For, to be sure, they had not looked like that in Linz. I observed the man furtively and cautiously, but the longer I stared at this foreign face, scrutinizing feature for feature, the more my first question assumed a new form:
Is this a German?
As always in such cases, I now began to try to relieve my doubts by books. For a few hellers I bought the first anti-Semitic pamphlets of my life. Unfortunately, they all proceeded from the supposition that in principle the reader knew or even understood the Jewish question to a certain degree. Besides, the tone for the most part was such that doubts again arose in me, due in part to the dull and amazingly unscientific arguments favoring the thesis.
I relapsed for weeks at a time, once even for months.
The whole thing seemed to me so monstrous, the accusations so boundless, that, tormented by the fear of doing injustice, I again became anxious and uncertain.
Yet I could no longer very well doubt that the objects of my study were not Germans of a special religion, but a people in themselves; for since I had begun to concern myself with this question and to take cognizance of the Jews, Vienna appeared to me in a different light than before. Wherever I went, I began to see Jews, and the more I saw, the more sharply they became distinguished in my eyes from the rest of humanity. Particularly the Inner City and the districts north of the Danube Canal swarmed with a people which even ******dly had lost all resemblance to Germans.
And whatever doubts I may still have nourished were finally dispelled by the attitude of a portion of the Jews themselves.
Among them there was a great movement, quite extensive in Vienna, which came out sharply in confirmation of the national character of the Jews: this was the Zionists.
It looked to be sure, as though only a part of the Jews approved this viewpoint, while the great majority condemned and inwardly rejected such a formulation. But when examined more closely, this appearance dissolved itself into an unsavory vapor of pretexts advanced for mere reasons of expedience, not to say lies. For the so-called liberal Jews did not reject the Zionists as non-Jews, but only as Jews with an impractical, perhaps even dangerous, way of publicly avowing their Jewishness.
Intrinsically they remained unalterably of one piece.
In a short time this apparent struggle between Zionistic and liberal Jews disgusted me; for it was false through and through, founded on lies and scarcely in keeping with the moral elevation and purity always claimed by this people.
The cleanliness of this people, moral and otherwise, I must say, is a point in itself. By their very exterior you could tell that these were no lovers of water, and, to your distress, you often knew it with your eyes closed. Later I often grew sick to my stomach from the smell of these caftan-wearers. Added to this, there was their unclean dress and their generally unheroic appearance.
All this could scarcely be called very attractive; but it became positively repulsive when, in addition to their physical uncleanliness, you discovered the moral stains on this 'chosen people.'
In a short time I was made more thoughtful than ever by my slowly rising insight into the type of activity carried on by the Jews in certain fields. Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it?
If you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light - a kike!
What had to be reckoned heavily against the Jews in my eyes was when I became acquainted with their activity in the press, art, literature, and the theater. All the unctuous reassurances helped little or nothing. It sufficed to look at a billboard, to study the names of the men behind the horrible trash they advertised, to make you hard for a long time to come. This was pestilence, spiritual pestilence, worse than the Black Death of olden times, and the people was being infected with it! It goes without saying that the lower the intellectual level of one of these art manufacturers, the more unlimited his fertility will be, and the scoundrel ends up like a garbage separator, splashing his filth in the face of humanity. And bear in mind that there is no limit to their number; bear in mind that for one Goethe Nature easily can foist on the world ten thousand of these scribblers who poison men's souls like germ-carriers of the worse sort, on their fellow men.
It was terrible, but not to be overlooked, that precisely the Jew, in tremendous numbers, seemed chosen by Nature for this shameful calling.
Is this why the Jews are called the 'chosen people'?
I now began to examine carefully the names of all the creators of unclean products in public artistic life. The result was less and less favorable for my previous attitude toward the Jews. Regardless how my sentiment might resists my reason was forced to draw its conclusions.
The fact that nine tenths of all literary filth, artistic trash, and theatrical idiocy can be set to the account of a people, constituting hardly one hundredth of all the country's inhabitants, could simply not be tanked away; it was the plain truth.
And I now began to examine my beloved 'world press' from this point of view.
And the deeper I probed, the more the object of my former admiration shriveled. The style became more and more unbearable; I could not help rejecting the content as inwardly shallow and banal; the objectivity of exposition now seemed to me more akin to lies than honest truth; and the writers were Jews.
A thousand things which I had hardly seen before now struck my notice, and others, which had previously given me food for thought, I now learned to grasp and understand.
I now saw the liberal attitude of this press in a different light; the lofty tone in which it answered attacks and its method of killing them with silence now revealed itself to me as a trick as clever as it was treacherous; the transfigured raptures of their theatrical critics were always directed at Jewish writers, and their disapproval never struck anyone but Germans. The gentle pinpricks against William II revealed its methods by their persistency, and so did its commendation of French culture and civilization. The trashy content of the short story now appeared to me as outright indecency, and in the language I detected the accents of a foreign people; the sense of the whole thing was so obviously hostile to Germanism that this could only have been intentional.
But who had an interest in this?
Was all this a mere accident?
Gradually I became uncertain.
The development was accelerated by insights which I gained into a number of other matters. I am referring to the general view of ethics and morals which was quite openly exhibited by a large part of the Jews, and the practical application of which could be seen.
Here again the streets provided an object lesson of a sort which was sometimes positively evil.
The relation of the Jews to prostitution and, even more, to the white-slave traffic, could be studied in Vienna as perhaps in no other city of Western Europe, with the possible exception of the southern French ports. If you walked at night through the streets and alleys of Leopoldstadtat every step you witnessed proceedings which remained concealed from the majority of the German people until the War gave the soldiers on the eastern front occasion to see similar things, or, better expressed, forced them to see them.
When thus for the first time I recognized the Jew as the cold-hearted, shameless, and calculating director of this revolting vice traffic in the scum of the big city, a cold shudder ran down my back.
But then a flame flared up within me. I no longer avoided discussion of the Jewish question; no, now I sought it. And when I learned to look for the Jew in all branches of cultural and artistic life and its various manifestations, I suddenly encountered him in a place where I would least have expected to find him.
When I recognized the Jew as the leader of the Social Democracy, the scales dropped from my eyes. A long soul struggle had reached its conclusion.
Even in my daily relations with my fellow workers, I observed the amazing adaptability with which they adopted different positions on the same question, sometimes within an interval of a few days, sometimes in only a few hours. It was hard for me to understand how people who, when spoken to alone, possessed some sensible opinions, suddenly lost them as soon as they came under the influence of the masses. It was often enough to make one despair. When, after hours of argument, I was convinced that now at last I had broken the ice or cleared up some absurdity, and was beginning to rejoice at my success, on the next day to my disgust I had to begin all over again; it had all been in vain. Like an eternal pendulum their opinions seemed to swing back again and again to the old madness.
All this I could understand: that they were dissatisfied with their lot and cursed the Fate which often struck them so harshly; that they hated the employers who seemed to them the heartless bailiffs of Fate; that they cursed the authorities who in their eyes were without feeling for their situation; that they demonstrated against food prices and carried their demands into the streets: this much could be understood without recourse to reason. But what inevitably remained incomprehensible was the boundless hatred they heaped upon their own nationality, despising its greatness, besmirching its history, and dragging its great men into the gutter.
This struggle against their own species, their own clan, their own homeland, was as senseless as it was incomprehensible. It was unnatural.
It was possible to cure them temporarily of this vice, but only for days or at most weeks. If later you met the man you thought you had converted, he was just the same as before.
His old unnatural state had regained full possession of him.
I gradually became aware that the Social Democratic press was directed predominantly by Jews; yet I did not attribute any special significance to this circumstance, since conditions were exactly the same in the other papers. Yet one fact seemed conspicuous: there was not one paper with Jews working on it which could have been regarded as truly national according to my education and way of thinking.
I swallowed my disgust and tried to read this type of Marxist press production, but my revulsion became so unlimited in so doing that I endeavored to become more closely acquainted with the men who manufactured these compendiums of knavery.
From the publisher down, they were all Jews.
I took all the Social Democratic pamphlets I could lay hands on and sought the names of their authors: Jews. I noted the names of the leaders; by far the greatest part were likewise members of the 'chosen people,' whether they were representatives in the Reichsrat or trade-union secretaries, the heads of organizations or street agitators. It was always the same gruesome picture. The names of the Austerlitzes, Davids, Adlers, Ellenbogens, etc., will remain forever graven in my memory. One thing had grown dear to me: the party with whose petty representatives I had been carrying on the most violent struggle for months was, as to leadership, almost exclusively in the hands of a foreign people; for, to my deep and joyful satisfaction, I had at last come to the conclusion that the Jew was no German.
Only now did I become thoroughly acquainted with the seducer of our people.
A single year of my sojourn in Vienna had sufficed to imbue me with the conviction that no worker could be so stubborn that he would not in the end succumb to better knowledge and better explanations. Slowly I had become an expert in their own doctrine and used it as a weapon in the struggle for my own profound conviction.
Success almost always favored my side.
The great masses could be saved, if only with the gravest sacrifice in time and patience.
But a Jew could never be parted from his opinions.
At that time I was still childish enough to try to make the madness of their doctrine clear to them; in my little circle I talked my tongue sore and my throat hoarse, thinking I would inevitably succeed in convincing them how ruinous their Marxist madness was; but what I accomplished was often the opposite. It seemed as though their increased understanding of the destructive effects of Social Democratic theories and their results only reinforced their determination.
The more I argued with them, the better I came to know their dialectic. First they counted on the stupidity of their adversary, and then, when there was no other way out, they themselves simply played stupid. If all this didn’t help, they pretended not to understand, or, if challenged, they changed the subject in a hurry, quoted platitudes which, if you accepted them, they immediately related to entirely different matters, and then, if again attacked, gave ground and pretended not to know exactly what you were talking about. Whenever you tried to attack one of these apostles, your hand closed on a jelly-like slime which divided up and poured through your fingers, but in the next moment collected again. But if you really struck one of these fellows so telling a blow that, observed by the audience, he couldn’t help but agree, and if you believed that this had taken you at least one step forward, your amazement was great the next day. The Jew had not the slightest recollection of the day before, he rattled off his same old nonsense as though nothing at all had happened, and, if indignantly challenged, affected amazement; he couldn’t remember a thing, except that he had proved the correctness of his assertions the previous day.
Sometimes I stood there thunderstruck.
I didn’t know what to be more amazed at: the agility of their tongues or their virtuosity at lying.
Gradually I began to hate them.
All this had but one good side: that in proportion as the real leaders or at least the disseminators of Social Democracy came within my vision, my love for my people inevitably grew. For who, in view of the diabolical craftiness of these seducers, could damn the luckless victims? How hard it was, even for me, to get the better of this race of dialectical liars! And how futile was such success in dealing with people who twist the truth in your mouth who without so much as a blush disavow the word they have just spoken, and in the very next minute take credit for it after all.
No. The better acquainted I became with the Jew, the more forgiving I inevitably became toward the worker. In my eyes the gravest fault was no longer with him, but with all those who did not regard it as worth the trouble to have mercy on him, with iron righteousness giving the son of the people his just deserts, and standing the seducer and corrupter up against the wall.
Inspired by the experience of daily life, I now began to track down the sources of the Marxist doctrine. Its effects had become clear to me in individual cases; each day its success was apparent to my attentive eyes, and, with some exercise of my imagination, I was able to picture the consequences. The only remaining question was whether the result of their action in its ultimate form had existed in the mind's eye of the creators, or whether they themselves were the victims of an error.
I felt that both were possible.
In the one case it was the duty of every thinking man to force himself to the forefront of the ill-starred movement, thus perhaps averting catastrophe; in the other, however, the original founders of this plague of the nations must have been veritable devils - for only in the brain of a monster - not that of a man - could the plan of an organization assume form and meaning, whose activity must ultimately result in the collapse of human civilization and the consequent devastation of the world.
In this case the only remaining hope was struggle, struggle with all the weapons which the human spirit, reason, and will can devise, regardless on which side of the scale Fate should lay its blessing.
Thus I began to make myself familiar with the founders of this doctrine, in order to study the foundations of the movement. If I reached my goal more quickly than at first I had perhaps ventured to believe, it was thanks to my newly acquired, though at that time not very profound, knowledge of the Jewish question. This alone enabled me to draw a practical comparison between the reality and the theoretical flim-flam of the founding fathers of Social Democracy, since it taught me to understand the language of the Jewish people, who speak in order to conceal or at least to veil their thoughts; their real aim is not therefore to be found in the lines themselves, but slumbers well concealed between them.
For me this was the time of the greatest spiritual upheaval I have ever had to go through.
I had ceased to be a weak-kneed cosmopolitan and become an anti-Semite.
Just once more-and this was the last time-fearful, oppressive thoughts came to me in profound anguish.
When over long periods of human history I scrutinized the activity of the Jewish people, suddenly there rose up in me the fearful question whether inscrutable Destiny, perhaps for reasons unknown to us poor mortals, did not with eternal and immutable resolve, desire the final victory of this little nation.
Was it possible that the earth had been promised as a reward to this people which lives only for this earth?
Have we an objective right to struggle for our self-preservation, or is this justified only subjectively within ourselves?
As I delved more deeply into the teachings of Marxism and thus in tranquil clarity submitted the deeds of the Jewish people to contemplation, Fate itself gave me its answer.
The Jewish doctrine of Marxism rejects the aristocratic principle of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength by the mass of numbers and their dead weight. Thus it denies the value of personality in man, contests the significance of nationality and race, and thereby withdraws from humanity the premise of its existence and its culture. As a foundation of the universe, this doctrine would bring about the end of any order intellectually conceivable to man. And as, in this greatest of all recognizable organisms, the result of an application of such a law could only be chaos, on earth it could only be destruction for the inhabitants of this planet.
If, with the help of his Marxist creed, the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity and this planet will, as it did thousands of years ago, move through the ether evoid of men.
Eternal Nature inexorably avenges the infringement of her commands.
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.
Volume One: A Reckoning
Chapter III: General Political Considerations Based on My Vienna Period
TODAY it is my conviction that in general, aside from cases of unusual talent, a man should not engage in public political activity before his thirtieth year. He should not do so, because up to this time, as a rule, he is engaged in molding a general platform, on the basis of which he proceeds to examine the various political problems and finally establishes his own position on them. Only after he has acquired such a basic philosophy, and the resultant firmness of outlook on the special problems of the day, is he, inwardly at least, mature enough to be justified in partaking in the political leadership of the general public.
Otherwise he runs the risk of either having to change his former position on essential questions, or, contrary to his better knowledge and understanding, of clinging to a view which reason and conviction have long since discarded. In the former case this is most embarrassing to him personally, since, what with his own vacillations, he cannot justifiably expect the faith of his adherents to follow him with the same unswerving firmness as before; for those led by him, on the other hand, such a reversal on the part of the leader means perplexity and not rarely a certain feeling of shame toward those whom they hitherto opposed. In the second case, there occurs a thing which, particularly today, often confronts us: in the same measure as the leader ceases to believe in what he says, his arguments become shallow and flat, but he tries to make up for it by vileness in his choice of means. While he himself has given up all idea of fighting seriously for his political revelations (a man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in), his demands on his supporters become correspondingly greater and more shameless until he ends up by sacrificing the last shred of leadership and turning into a 'politician; in other words, the kind of man whose only real conviction is lack of conviction, combined with offensive impertinence and an art of lying, often developed to the point of complete shamelessness.
If to the misfortune of decent people such a character gets into a parliament, we may as well realize at once that the essence of his politics will from now on consist in nothing but an heroic struggle for the permanent possession of his feeding-bottle for himself and his family. The more his wife and children depend on it, the more tenaciously he will fight for his mandate. This alone will make every other man with political instincts his personal enemy; in every new movement he will scent the possible beginning of his end, and in every man of any greatness the danger which menaces him through that man.
I shall have more to say about this type of parliamentary bedbug.
Even a man of thirty will have much to learn in the course of his life, but this will only be to supplement and fill in the framework provided him by the philosophy he has basically adopted When he learns, his learning will not have to be a revision of principle, but a supplementary study, and his supporters will not have to choke down the oppressive feeling that they have hitherto been falsely instructed by him. On the contrary: the visible organic growth of the leader will give them satisfaction, for when he learns, he will only be deepening their own philosophy. And this in their eyes will be a proof for the correctness of the views they have hitherto held.
A leader who must depart from the platform of his general philosophy as such, because he recognizes it to be false, behaves with decency only if, in recognizing the error of his previous insight, he is prepared to draw the ultimate consequence. In such a case he must, at the very least, renounce the public exercise of any further political activity. For since in matters of basic knowledge he has once succumbed to an error, there is a possibility that this will happen a second time. And in no event does he retain the right to continue claiming, not to mention demanding, the confidence of his fellow citizens.
How little regard is taken of such decency today is attested by the general degeneracy of the rabble which contemporaneously feel justified in 'going into' politics.
Hardly a one of them is fit for it.
I had carefully avoided any public appearance, though I think that I studied politics more closely than many other men. Only in the smallest groups did I speak of the things which inwardly moved or attracted me. This speaking in the narrowest circles had many good points: I learned to orate less, but to know people with their opinions and objections that were often so boundlessly primitive. And I trained myself, without losing the time and occasion for the continuance of my own education. It is certain that nowhere else in Germany was the opportunity for this so favorable as in Vienna.
General political thinking in the old Danubian monarchy was just then broader and more comprehensive in scope than in old Germany, excluding parts of Prussia, Hamburg, and the North Sea coast, at the same period. In this case, to be sure, I understand, under the designation of 'Austria,' that section of the great Habsburg Empire which, in consequence of its German settlement, not only was the historic cause of the very formation of this state, but whose population, moreover, exclusively demonstrated that power which for so many centuries was able to give this structure, so artificial in the political sense, its inner cultural life. As time progressed, the existence and future of this state came to depend more and more on the preservation of this nuclear cell of the Empire.
If the old hereditary territories were the heart of the Empire continually driving fresh blood into the circulatory stream of political and cultural life, Vienna was the brain and will in one
Its mere ******d appearance justified one in attributing to this city the power to reign as a unifying queen amid such a conglomeration of peoples, thus by the radiance of her own beauty causing us to forget the ugly symptoms of old age in the structure as a whole.
The Empire might quiver and quake beneath the bloody battles of the different nationalities, yet foreigners, and especially Germans, saw only the charming countenance of this city. What made the deception all the greater was that Vienna at that time seemed engaged in what was perhaps its last and greatest visible revival. Under the rule of a truly gifted mayor, the venerable residence of the Emperors of the old regime awoke once more to a miraculous youth. The last great German to be born in the ranks of the people who had colonized the Ostmark was not officially numbered among so-called Statesmen'; but as mayor of Vienna, this capital and imperial residence,' Dr. Lueger conjured up one amazing achievement after another in, we may say, every field of economic and cultural municipal politics, thereby strengthening the heart of the whole Empire, and indirectly becoming a statesman greater than all the so-called 'diplomats' of the time
If the conglomeration of nations called 'Austria' nevertheless perished in the end, this does not detract in the least from the political ability of the Germans in the old Ostmark, but was the necessary result of the impossibility of permanently maintaining a state of fifty million people of different nationalities by means of ten million people, unless certain definite prerequisites were established in time.
The ideas of the German-Austrian were more than grandiose.
He had always been accustomed to living in a great empire and had never lost his feeling for the tasks bound up with it. He was the only one in this state who, beyond the narrow boundaries of the crown lands, still saw the boundaries of the Reich; indeed, when Fate finally parted him from the common fatherland, he kept on striving to master the gigantic task and preserve for the German people what his fathers had once wrested from the East in endless struggles. In this connection it should be borne in mind that this had to be done with divided energy; for the heart and memory of the best never ceased to feel for the common mother country, and only a remnant was left for the homeland.
The general horizon of the German-Austrian was in itself comparatively broad. His economic connections frequently embraced almost the entire multiform Empire. Nearly all the big business enterprises were in his hands; the directing personnel, both technicians and officials, were in large part provided by him. He was also in charge of foreign trade in so far as the Jews had not laid their hands on this domain, which they have always seized for their own. Politically, he alone held the state together. Military service alone cast him far beyond the narrow boundaries of his homeland. The German-Austrian recruit might join a German regiment, but the regiment itself might equally well be in Herzegovina, Vienna, or Galicia. The officers' corps was still German, the higher officials predominantly so. Finally, art and science were German. Aside from the trash of the more modern artistic development, which a nation of Negroes might just as well have produced, the German alone possessed and disseminated a truly artistic attitude. In music, architecture, sculpture, and painting, Vienna was the source supplying the entire dual monarchy in inexhaustible abundance, without ever seeming to go dry itself.
Finally, the Germans directed the entire foreign policy if we disregard a small number of Hungarians.
And yet any attempt to preserve this Empire was in vain, for the most essential premise was lacking.
For the Austrian state of nationalities there was only one possibility of overcoming the centrifugal forces of the individual nations. Either the state was centrally governed hence internally organized along the same lines. or it was altogether inconceivable.
At various lucid moments this insight dawned on the ' supreme ' authority. But as a rule it was soon forgotten or shelved as difficult of execution. Any thought of a more federative organization of the Empire was doomed to failure owing to the lack of a strong political germ-cell of outstanding power. Added to this were the internal conditions of the Austrian state which differed essentially from the German Empire of Bismarck. In Germany it was only a question of overcoming political conditions, since there was always a common cultural foundation. Above all, the Reich, aside from little foreign splinters, embraced members of only one people.
In Austria the opposite was the case.
Here the individual provinces, aside from Hungary, lacked any political memory of their own greatness, or it had been erased by the sponge of time, or at least blurred and obscured. In the period when the principle of nationalities was developing, however, national forces rose up in the various provinces, and to counteract them was all the more difficult as on the rim of the monarchy national states began to form whose populations, racially equivalent or related to the Austrian national splinters, were now able to exert a greater power of attraction than, conversely, remained possible for the GermanAustrian.
Even Vienna could not forever endure this struggle.
With the development of Budapest into a big city, she had for the first time a rival whose task was no longer to hold the entire monarchy together, but rather to strengthen a part of it. In a short time Prague was to follow her example, then Lemberg, Laibach, etc. With the rise of these former provincial cities to national capitals of individual provinces, centers formed for more or less independent cultural life in these provinces. And only then did the politico-national instincts obtain their spiritual foundation and depth. The time inevitably approached when these dynamic forces of the individual peoples would grow sponger than the force of common interests, and that would be the end of Austria.
Since the death of Joseph II the course of this development was clearly discernible. Its rapidity depended on a series of factors which in part lay in the monarchy itself and in part were the result of the Empire's momentary position on foreign policy.
If the fight for the preservation of this state was to be taken up and carried on in earnest, only a ruthless and persistent policy of centralization could lead to the goal. First of all, the purely formal cohesion had to be emphasized by the establishment in principle of a uniform official language, and the administration had to be given the technical implement without which a unified state simply cannot exist. Likewise a unified state-consciousness could only be bred for any length of time by schools and education. This was not feasible in ten or twenty years; it was inevitably a matter of centuries; for in all questions of colonization, persistence assumes greater importance than the energy of the moment.
It goes without saying that the administration as well as the political direction must be conducted with strict uniforrnity. To me it was infinitely instructive to ascertain why this did not occur,. or rather, why it was not done. He who was guilty of this omission was alone to blame for the collapse of the Empire.
Old Austria more than any other state depended on the greatness of her leaders. The foundation was lacking for a national state, which in its national basis always possesses the power of survival, regardless how deficient the leadership as such may be. A homogeneous national state can, by virtue of the natural inertia of its inhabitants, and the resulting power of resistance, sometimes withstand astonishingly long periods of the worst administration or leadership without inwardly disintegrating. At such times it often seems as though there were no more life in such a body, as though it were dead and done for, but one fine day the supposed corpse suddenly rises and gives the rest of humanity astonishing indications of its unquenchable vital force.
It is different, however, with an empire not consisting of similar peoples, which is held together not by common blood but by a common fist. In this case the weakness of leadership will not cause a hibernation of the state, but an awakening of all the individual instincts which are present in the blood, but carmot develop in times when there is a dominant will. Only by a common education extending over centuries, by common tradition, common interests, etc., can this danger be attenuated. Hence the younger such state formations are, the more they depend on the greatness of leadership, and if they are the work of outstanding soldiers and spiritual heroes, they often crumble immediately after the death of the great solitary founder. But even after centuries these dangers cannot be regarded as overcome; they only lie dormant, often suddenly to awaken as soon as the weakness of the common leadership and the force of education and all the sublime traditions can no longer overcome the impetus of the vital urge of the individual tribes.
Not to have understood this is perhaps the tragic guilt of the House of Habsburg.
For only a single one of them did Fate once again raise high the torch over the future of his country, then it
was extinguished for-ever.
Joseph IIX Roman Emperor of the German nation, saw with fear and trepidation how his House, forced to the outermost corner of the Empire, would one day inevitably vanish in the maelstrom of a Babylon of nations unless at the eleventh hour the omissions of his forefathers were made good. With super-human power this 'friend of man' braced himself against the negligence of his ancestors and endeavored to retrieve in one decade what centuries had failed to do. If he had been granted only forty years for his work, and if after him even two generations had continued his work as he began it, the miracle would probably have been achieved.
But when, after scarcely ten years on the thrones worn in body and soul, he died, his work sank with him into the grave, to awaken no more and sleep forever in the Capuchin crypt. His successors were equal to the task neither in mind nor in will.
When the first revolutionary lightnings of a new era flashed through Europe, Austria, too, slowly began to catch fire, little by little. But when the fire at length broke out, the flame was fanned less by social or general political causes than by dynamic forces of national origin.
The revolution of 1848 may have been a class struggle everywhere, but in Austria it was the beginning of a new racial war. By forgetting or not recognizing this origin and putting themselves in the service of the revolutionary uprising, the Germans sealed their own fate. They helped to arouse the spirit of 'Western democracy,' which in a short time removed the foundations of their own existence.
With the formation of a parliamentary representative body without the previous establishment and crystallization of a common state language, the cornerstone had been laid for the end of German domination of the monarchy.' From this moment on the state itself was lost. All that followed was merely the historic liquidation of an empire.
To follow this process of dissolution was as heartrending as it was instructive. This execution of an historical sentence was carried out in detail in thousands and thousands of forrns. The fact that a large part of the people moved blindly through the manifestations of decay showed only that the gods had willed Austria's destruction.
I shall not lose myself in details on this point, for that is not the function of this book. I shall only submit to a more thoroughgoing observation those events which are the everunchanging causes of the decline of nations and states, thus possessing significance for our time as well, and which ultimately contributed to securing the foundations of my own political thinking.
At the head of those institutions which could most clearly have revealed the erosion of the Austrian monarchy, even to a shopkeeper not otherwise gifted with sharp eyes, was one which ought to have had the greatest strength parliament, or, as it was called in Austria, the Reichsrat.
Obviously the example of this body had been taken from England, the land of classical 'democracy.' From there the whole blissful institution was taken and transferred as unchanged as possible to Vienna.
The English two-chamber system was solemnly resurrected in the Abgeordnetenhaus and the Herrenhaus. Except that the houses' themselves were somewhat different. When Barry raised his parliament buildings from the waters of the Thames, he thrust into the history of the British Empire and from it took the decorations for the twelve hundred niches, consoles, and pillars of his magnificent edifice. Thus, in their sculpture and painting, the House of Lords and the House of Commons became the nation's Hall of Fame.
This was where the first difficulty came in for Vienna. For when Hansen, the Danish builder, had completed the last pinnacle on the marble building of the new parliament, there was nothing he could use as decoration except borrowings from antiquity. Roman and &reek statesmen and philosophers now embellish this opera house of Western democracy, and in symbolic irony the quadrigae fly from one another in all four directions above the two houses, in this way giving the best external expression of the activities that went on inside the building.
The 'nationalities' had vetoed the glorification of Austrian history in this work as an insult and provocation, just as in the Reich itself it was only beneath the thunder of World War battles that they dared to dedicate Wallot's Reichstag Building to the German people by an inscription.
When, not yet twenty years old, I set foot for the first time in the magnificent building on the Franzensring to attend a session of the House of Deputies as a spectator and listener, I was seized with the most conflicting sentiments.
I had always hated parliament, but not as an institution in itself. On the contrary, as a freedom-loving man I could not even conceive of any other possibility of government, for the idea of any sort of dictatorship would, in view of my attitude toward the House of Habsburg, have seemed to me a crime against freedom and all reason.
What contributed no little to this was that as a young man, in consequence of my extensive newspaper reading, I had, without myself realizing it, been inoculated with a certain admiration for the British Parliament, of which I was not easily able to rid myself. The dignity with which the Lower House there fulfilled its tasks (as was so touchingly described in our press) impressed me immensely. Could a people have any more exalted form of self-government?
But for this very reason I was an enemy of the Austrian parliament. I considered its whole mode of conduct unworthy of the great example. To this the following was now added:
The fate of the Germans in the Austrian state was dependent on their position in the Reichsrat. Up to the introduction of universal and secret suffrage, the Germans had had a majority, though an insignificant one, in parliament. Even this condition was precarious, for the Social Democrats, with their unreliable attitude in national questions, always turned against German interests in critical matters affecting the Germans-in order not to alienate the members of the various foreign nationalities. Even in those days the Social Democracy could not be regarded as a German party. And with the introduction of universal suffrage the German superiority ceased even in a purely numerical sense. There was no longer any obstacle in the path of the further de-Germanization of the state.
For this reason my instinct of national self-preservation caused me even in those days to have little love for a representative body in which the Germans were always misrepresented rather than represented. Yet these were deficiencies which, like so many others, were attributable, not to the thing in itself, but to the Austrian state. I still believed that if a German majority were restored in the representative bodies, there would no longer be any reason for a principled opposition to them, that is, as long as the old state continued to exist at all.
These were my inner sentiments when for the first time I set foot in these halls as hallowed as they were disputed. For me, to be sure, they were hallowed only by the lofty beauty of the magnificent building. A Hellenic miracle on German soil!
How soon was I to grow indignant when I saw the lamentable comedy that unfolded beneath my eyes!
Present were a few hundred of these popular representatives who had to take a position on a question of most vital economic importance.
The very first day was enough to stimulate me to thought for weeks on end.
The intellectual content of what these men said was on a really depressing level, in so far as you could understand their babbling at all; for several of the gentlemen did not speak German, but their native Slavic languages or rather dialects. I now had occasion to hear with my own ears what previously I had known only from reading the newspapers. A wild gesticulating mass screaming all at once in every different key, presided over by a goodnatured old uncle who was striving in the sweat of his brow to revive the dignity of the House by violently ringing his bell and alternating gentle reproofs with grave admonitions.
I couldn't help laughing.
A few weeks later I was in the House again. The picture was changed beyond recognition. The hall was absolutely empty. Down below everybody was asleep. A few deputies were in their places, yawning at one another; one was 'speaking.' A vicepresident of the House was present, looking into the hall with obvious boredom.
The first misgivings arose in me. From now on, whenever time offered me the slightest opportunity, I went back and, with silence and attention, viewed whatever picture presented itself, listened to the speeches in so far as they were intelligible, studied the more or less intelligent faces of the elect of the peoples of this woe-begone state-and little by little formed my own ideas.
A year of this tranquil observation sufficed totally to change or eliminate my former view of the nature of this institution. My innermost position was no longer against the misshapen form which this idea assumed in Austria; no, by now I could no longer accept the parliament as such. Up till then I had seen the misfortune of the Austrian parliament in the absence of a German majority; now I saw that its ruination lay in the whole nature and essence of the institution as such.
A whole series of questions rose up in me.
I began to make myself familiar with the democratic principle of majority rule as the foundation of this whole institution, but devoted no less attention to the intellectual and moral values of these gentlemen, supposedly the elect of the nations, who were expected to serve this purpose.
Thus I came to know the institution and its representatives at once.
In the course of a few years, my knowledge and insight shaped a plastic model of that most dignified phenomenon of modern times: the parliamentarian. He began to impress himself upon me in a form which has never since been subjected to any essential change.
Here again the visual instruction of practical reality had prevented me from being stifled by a theory which at first sight seemed seductive to so many, but which none the less must be counted among the symptoms of human degeneration.
The Western democracy of today is the forerunner of Marxism which without it would not be thinkable. It provides this world plague with the culture in which its germs can spread. In its most extreme forrn, parliamentarianism created a 'monstrosity of excrement and fire,' in which, however, sad to say, the 'fire' seems to me at the moment to be burned out.
I must be more than thankful to Fate for laying this question before me while I was in Vienna, for I fear that in Germany at that time I would have found the answer too easily. For if I had first encountered this absurd institution known as 'parliament' in Berlin, I might have fallen into the opposite fallacy, and not without seemingly good cause have sided with those who saw the salvation of the people and the Reich exclusively in furthering the power of the imperial idea, and who nevertheless were alien and blind at once to the times and the people involved.
In Austria this was impossible.
Here it was not so easy to go from one mistake to the other. If parliament was worthless, the Habsburgs were even more worthless-in no event, less so. To reject 'parliamentarianism' was not enough, for the question still remained open: what then? The rejection and abolition of the Reichsrat would have left the House of Habsburg the sole governing force, a thought which, especially for me, was utterly intolerable.
The difficulty of this special case led me to a more thorough contemplation of the problem as such than would otherwise have been likely at such tender years.
What gave me most food for thought was the obvious absence of any responsibility in a single person.
The parliament arrives at some decision whose consequences may be ever so ruinous-nobody bears any responsibility for this, no one can be taken to account. For can it be called an acceptance of responsibility if, after an unparalleled catastrophe, the guilty government resigns? Or if the coalition changes, or even if parliament is itself dissolved?
Can a fluctuating majority of people ever be made responsible in any case?
Isn't the very idea of responsibility bound up with the individual?
But can an individual directing a government be made practically responsible for actions whose preparation and execution must be set exclusively to the account of the will and inclination of a multitude of men?
Or will not the task of a leading statesman be seen, not in the birth of a creative idea or plan as such, but rather in the art of making the brilliance of his projects intelligible to a herd of sheep and blockheads, and subsequently begging for their kind approval?
Is it the criterion of the statesman that he should possess the art of persuasion in as high degree as that of political intelligence in formulating great policies or decisions? Is the incapacity of a leader shown by the fact that he does not succeed in winning for a certain idea the majority of a mob thrown together by more or less savory accidents?
Indeed, has this mob ever understood an idea before success proclaimed its greatness?
Isn't every deed of genius in this world a visible protest of genius against the inertia of the mass?
And what should the statesman do, who does not succeed in gaining the favor of this mob for his plans by flattery?
Should he buy it?
Or, in view of the stupidity of his fellow citizens, should he renounce the execution of the tasks which he has recognized to be vital necessities? Should he resign or should he remain at his post?
In such a case, doesn't a man of true character find himself in a hopeless conflict between knowledge and decency, or rather honest conviction?
Where is the dividing line between his duty toward the general public and his duty toward his personal honor?
Mustn't every true leader refuse to be thus degraded to the level of a political gangster?
And, conversely, mustn't every gangster feel that he is cut out for politics, since it is never he, but some intangible mob, which has to bear the ultimate responsibility?
Mustn't our principle of parliamentary majorities lead to the demolition of any idea of leadership?
Does anyone believe that the progress of this world springs from the mind of majorities and not from the brains of individuals?
Or does anyone expect that the future will be able to dispense with this premise of human culture?
Does it not, on the contrary, today seem more indispensable than ever?
By rejecting the authority of the individual and replacing it by the numbers of some momentary mob, the parliamentary principle of majority rule sins against the basic aristocratic principle of Nature, though it must be said that this view is not necessarily embodied in the present-day decadence of our upper ten thousand.
The devastation caused by this institution of modern parliamentary rule is hard for the reader of Jewish newspapers to imagine, unless he has learned to think and examine independently. It is, first and foremost, the cause of the incredible inundation of all political life with the most inferior, and I mean the most inferior, characters of our time. Just as the true leader will withdraw from all political activity which does not consist primarily in creative achievement and work, but in bargaining and haggling for the favor of the majority, in the same measure this activity will suit the small mind and consequently attract it.
The more dwarfish one of these present-day leather merchants is in spirit and ability, the more clearly his own insight makes him aware of the lamentable figure he actually cuts-that much more will he sing the praises of a system which does not demand of him the power and genius of a giant, but is satisfied with the craftiness of a village mayor, preferring in fact this kind of wisdom to that of a Pericles. And this kind doesn't have to torment himself with responsibility for his actions. He is entirely removed from such worry, for he well knows that, regardless what the result of his 'statesmanlike' bungling may be, his end has long been written in the stars: one day he will have to cede his place to another equally great mind, for it is one of the characteristics of this decadent system that the number of great statesmen increases in proportion as the stature of the individual decreases With increasing dependence on parliamentary majorities it will inevitably continue to shrink, since on the one hand great minds will refuse to be the stooges of idiotic incompetents and bigmouths, and on the other, conversely, the representatives of the majority, hence of stupidity, hate nothing more passionately than a superior mind.
For such an assembly of wise men of Gotham, it is always a consolation to know that they are headed by a leader whose intelligence is at the level of those present: this will give each one the pleasure of shining from time to time-and, above all, if Tom can be master, what is to prevent Dick and Harry from having their turn too?
This invention of democracy is most intimately related to a quality which in recent times has grown to be a real disgrace, to wit, the cowardice of a great part of our so-called 'leadership. What luck to be able to hide behind the skirts of a so-called majority in all decisions of any real importance!
Take a look at one of these political bandits. How anxiously he begs the approval of the majority for every measure, to assure himself of the necessary accomplices, so he can unload the responsibility at any time. And this is one of the main reasons why this type of political activity is always repulsive and hateful to any man who is decent at heart and hence courageous, while it attracts all low characters-and anyone who is unwilling to take personal responsibility for his acts, but seeks a shield, is a cowardly scoundrel. When the leaders of a nation consist of such vile creatures, the results will soon be deplorable. Such a nation will be unable to muster the courage for any determined act; it will prefer to accept any dishonor, even the most shameful, rather than rise to a decision; for there is no one who is prepared of his own accord to pledge his person and his head for the execution of a dauntless resolve.
For there is one thing which we must never forget: in this, too, the majority can never replace the man. It is not only a representative of stupidity, but of cowardice as well. And no more than a hundred empty heads make one wise man will an heroic decision arise from a hundred cowards.
The less the responsibility of the individual leader, the more numerous will be those who, despite their most insignificant stature, feel called upon to put their immortal forces in the service of the nation. Indeed, they will be unable to await their turn; they stand in a long line, and with pain and regret count the number of those waiting ahead of them, calculating almost the precise hour at which, in all probability, their turn will come. Consequently, they long for any change in the office hovering before their eyes, and are thankful for any scandal which thins out the ranks ahead of them. And if some man is unwilling to move from the post he holds, this in their eyes is practically a breach of a holy pact of solidarity. They grow vindictive, and they do not rest until the impudent fellow is at last overthrown, thus turning his warm place back to the public. And, rest
assured, he won't recover the position so easily. For as soon as one of these creatures is forced to give up a position, he will try at once to wedge his way into the 'waiting-line' unless the hue and cry raised by the others prevents him.
The consequence of all this is a terrifying turn-over in the most important offices and positions of such a state, a result which is always harmful, but sometimes positively catastrophic. For it is not only the simpleton and incompetent who will fall victim to thus custom, but to an even greater extent the real leader, if Fate somehow manages to put one in this place. As soon as this fact has been recognized, a solid front will form against him, especially if such a mind has not arisen from their own ranks, but none the less dares to enter into this exalted society. For on principle these gentry like to be among themselves and they hate as a common enemy any brain which stands even slightly above the zeros. And in this respect their instinct is as much sharper as it is deficient in everything else.
The result will be a steadily expanding intellectual impoverishment of the leading circles. The result for the nation and the state, everyone can judge for himself, excepting in so far as he himself is one of these kind of 'leaders.'
Old Austria possessed the parliamentary regime in its purest form.
To be sure, the prime ministers were always appointed by the Emperor and King, but this very appointment was nothing halt the execution of the parliamentary will. The haggling and bargaining for the individual portfolios represented Western democracy of the first water. And the results corresponded to the principles applied. Particularly the change of individual personalities occurred in shorter and shorter terms, ultimately becoming a veritable chase. In the same measure, the stature of the ' statesmen ' steadily diminished until finally no one remained but that type of parliamentary gangster whose statesmanship could only be measured and recognized by their ability in pasting together the coalitions of the moment; in other words, concluding those pettiest of political bargains which alone demonstrate the fitness of these representatives of the people for practical work.
Thus the Viennese school transmitted the best impressions in this field.
But what attracted me no less was to compare the ability and knowledge of these representatives of the people and the tasks which awaited them. In this case, whether I liked it or not, I was impelled to examine more closely the intellectual horizon of these elect of the nations themselves, and in so doing, I could not avoid giving the necessary attention to the processes which lead to the discovery of these ornaments of our public life.
The way in which the real ability of these gentlemen was applied and placed in the service of the fatherland-in other words, the technical process of their activity-was also worthy of thorough study and investigation.
The more determined I was to penetrate these inner conditions, to study the personalities and material foundations with dauntless and penetrating objectivity, the more deplorable became my total picture of parliamentary life. Indeed, this is an advisable procedure in dealing with an institution which, in the person of its representatives, feels obliged to bring up 'objectivity ' in every second sentence as the only proper basis for every investigation and opinion. Investigate these gentlemen themselves and the laws of their sordid existence, and you will be amazed at the result.
There is no principle which, objectively considered, is as false as that of parliamentarianism.
Here we may totally disregard the manner in which our fine representatives of the people are chosen, how they arrive at their office and their new dignity. That only the tiniest fraction of them rise in fulfillment of a general desire, let alone a need, will at once be apparent to anyone who realizes that the political understanding of the broad masses is far from being highly enough developed to arrive at definite general political views of their own accord and seek out the suitable personalities.
The thing we designate by the word 'public opinion' rests only in the smallest part on experience or knowledge which the individual has acquired by hirnself, but rather on an idea which is inspired by so-called 'enlightenment,' often of a highly persistent and obtrusive type.
Just as a man's denominational orientation is the result of upbringing, and only the religious need as such slumbers in his soul, the political opinion of the masses represents nothing but the final result of an incredibly tenacious and thorough manipulation of their mind and soul.
By far the greatest share in their political 'education,' which in this case is most aptly designated by the word 'propaganda,' falls to the account of the press. It is foremost in performing this 'work of enlightenment' and thus represents a sort of school for grown-ups. This instruction, however, is not in the hands of the state, but in the claws of forces which are in part very inferior. In Vienna as a very young man I had the best opportunity to become acquainted with the owners and spiritual manufacturers of this machine for educating the masses. At first I could not help but be amazed at how short a time it took this great evil power within the state to create a certain opinion even where it meant totally falsifying profound desiresand views which surely existed among the public. In a few days a ridiculous episode had become a significant state action, while, conversely, at the same time, vital problems fell a prey to public oblivion, or rather were simply filched from the memory and consciousness of the masses.
Thus, in the course of a few weeks it was possible to conjure up names out of the void, to associate them with incredible hopes on the part of the broad public, even to give them a popularity which the really great man often does not obtain his whole life long; names which a month before no one had even seen or heard of, while at the same time old and proved figures of political or other public life, though in the best of health, simply died as far as their fellow men were concemed, or were heaped with such vile insults that their names soon threatened to become the symbol of some definite act of infamy or villainy. We must study this vile Jewish technique of emptying garbage pails full of the vilest slanders and defamations from hundreds and
hundreds of sources at once, suddenly and as if by magic, on the clean garments of honorable men, if we are fully to appreciate the entire menace represented by these scoundrels of the press.
There is absolutely nothing one of these spiritual robberbarons will not do to achieve his savory aims.
He will poke into the most secret family affairs and not rest until his truth-searching instinct digs up some miserable incident which is calculated to finish off the unfortunate victim. But if, after the most careful sniffing, absolutely nothing is found, either in the man's public or private life, one of these scoundrels simply seizes on slander, in the firm conviction that despite a thousand refutations something always sticks and, moreover, through the immediate and hundredfold repetition of his defamations by all his accomplices, any resistance on the part of the victim is in most cases utterly impossible; and it must be borne in mind that this rabble never acts out of motives which might seem credible or even understandable to the rest of humanity. God forbid! While one of these scum is attacking his beloved fellow men in the most contemptible fashion, the octopus covers himself with a veritable cloud of respectability and unctuous phrases, prates about ' journalistic duty '
and such like lies, and even goes so far as to shoot off his mouth at committee meetings and congresses- that is, occasions where these pests are present in large numbers -about a very special variety of 'honor,' to wit, the journalistic variety, which the assembled rabble gravely and mutually confirm.
These scum manufacture more than three quarters of the so-called 'public opinion,' from whose foam the parliamentarian Aphrodite arises. To give an accurate description of this process and depict it in all its falsehood and improbability, one would have to write volumes. But even if we disregard all this and examine only the given product along with its activity, this seems to me enough to make the objective lunacy of this institution dawn on even the naivest mind.
This human error, as senseless as it is dangerous, will most readily be understood as soon as we compare democratic parliamentarianism with a truly Germanic democracy.
The distinguishing feature of the former is that a body of, let us say five hundred men, or in recent times even women, is chosen and entrusted with making the ultimate decision in any and all matters. And so for practical purposes they alone are the government; for even if they do choose a cabinet which undertakes the external direction of the affairs of state, this is a mere sham. In reality this so-called government cannot take a step without first obtaining the approval of the general assembly. Consequently, it cannot be made responsible for anything, since the ultimate decision never lies with it, but with the majority of parliament. In every case it does nothing but carry out the momentary will of the majority. Its political ability can only be judged according to the skill with which it understands how either to adapt itself to the will of the majority or to pull the majority over to its side. Thereby it sinks from the heights of real government to the level of a beggar confronting the
momentary majority. Indeed, its most urgent task becomes nothing more than either to secure the favor of the existing majority, as the need arises, or to form a majority with more friendly inclinations. If this succeeds, it may 'govern' a little while longer; if it doesn't succeed, it can resign. The soundness of its purposes as such is beside the point.
For practical purposes, this excludes all responsibility
To what consequences this leads can be seen from a few simple considerations:
The internal composition of the five hundred chosen representatives of the people, with regard to profession or even individual abilities, gives a picture as incoherent as it is usually deplorable. For no one can believe that these men elected by the nation are elect of spirit or even of intelligence ! It is to be hoped that no one will suppose that the ballots of an electorate which is anything else than brilliant will give rise to statesmen by the hundreds. Altogether we cannot be too sharp in condemning the absurd notion that geniuses can be born from general elections. In the first place, a nation only produces a real statesman once in a blue moon and not a hundred or more at once; and in the second place, the revulsion of the masses for every outstanding genius is positively instinctive. Sooner will a camel pass through a needle's eye than a great man be ' discovered' by an
In world history the man who really rises above the norm of the broad average usually announces himself personally.
As it is, however, five hundred men, whose stature is to say the least modest, vote on the most important affairs of the nation, appoint governments which in every single case and in every special question have to get the approval of the exalted assembly, so that policy is really made by five hundred.
And that is just what it usually looks like.
But even leaving the genius of these representatives of the people aside, bear in mind how varied are the problems awaiting attention, in what widely removed fields solutions and decisions must be made, and you will realize how inadequate a governing institution must be which transfers the ultimate right of decision to a mass assembly of people, only a tiny fraction of which possess knowledge and experience of the matter to be treated. The most important economic measures are thus submitted to a forum, only a tenth of whose members have any economic education to show. This is nothing more nor less than placing the ultimate decision in a matter in the hands of men totally lacking in every prerequisite for the task.
The same is true of every other question. The decision is always made by a majority of ignoramuses and incompetents, since the composition of this institution remains unchanged while the problems under treatment extend to nearly every province of public life and would thereby presuppose a constant turn-over in the deputies who are to judge and decide on them, since it is impossible to let the same persons decide matters of transportation as, let us say, a question of high foreign policy. Otherwise these men would all have to be universal geniuses such as we actually seldom encounter once in centuries. Unfortunately we are here confronted, for the most part, not with 'thinkers,' but with dilettantes as limited as they are conceited and inflated, intellectual demimonde of the worst sort. And this is the source of the often-incomprehensible frivolity with which these gentry speak and decide on things which would require careful meditation even in the greatest minds. Measures of the gravest significance for the future of a whole state, yes, of a nation, are passed as though a game of schafDopf or tarock, which would certainly be better suited to their abilities, lay on the table before them and not the fate of a race.
Yet it would surely be unjust to believe that all of the deputies in such a parliament were personally endowed with so little sense of responsibility.
No, by no means.
But by forcing the individual to take a position on such questions completely ill-suited to him, this system gradually ruins his character. No one will summon up the courage to declare: Gentlemen, I believe we understand nothing about this matter I personally certainly do not.' (Besides, this would change matters little, for surely this kind of honesty would remain totally unappreciated, and what is more, our friends would scarcely allow one honorable jackass to spoil their whole game.) Anyone with a knowledge of people will realize that in such an illustrious company no one is eager to be the stupidest, and in certain circles honesty is almost synonymous with stupidity
Thus, even the representative who at first was honest is thrown into this track of general falsehood and deceit. The very conviction that the non-participation of an individual in the business would in itself change nothing kills every honorable impulse which may rise up in this or that deputy. And finally, moreover, he may tell himself that he personally is far from being the worst among the others, and that the sole effect of his collaboration is perhaps to prevent worse things from happening.
It will be objected, to be sure, that though the individual deputy possesses no special understanding in this or that matter, his position has been discussed by the fraction which directs the policy of the gentleman in question, and that the fraction has its special committees which are more than adequately enlightened by experts anyway.
At first glance this seems to be true. But then the question arises: Why are five hundred chosen when only a few possess the necessary wisdom to take a position in the most important matters?
And this is the worm in the apple!
It is not the aim of our present-day parliamentarianism to constitute an assembly of wise men, but rather to compose a band of mentally dependent nonentities who are the more easily led in certain directions, the greater is the personal limitation of the individual. That is the only way of carrying on party politics in the malodorous present-day sense. And only in this way is it possible for the real wirepuller to remain carefully in the background and never personally be called to responsibility. For then every decision, regardless how harmful to the nation, will not be set to the account of a scoundrel visible to all, but will be unloaded on the shoulders of a whole fraction.
And thereby every practical responsibility vanishes. For responsibility can lie only in the obligation of an individual and not in a parliamentary bull session.
Such an institution can only please the biggest liars and sneaks of the sort that shun the light of day, because it is inevitably hateful to an honorable, straightforward man who welcomes personal responsibility.
And that is why this type of democracy has become the instrument of that race which in its inner goals must shun the light of day, now and in all ages of the future. Only the Jew can praise an institution which is as dirty and false as he himself.
Juxtaposed to this is the truly Germanic democracy characterized by the free election of a leader and his obligation fully to assume all responsibility for his actions and omissions. In it there is no majority vote on individual questions, but only the decision of an individual who must answer with his fortune and his life for his choice.
If it be objected that under such conditions scarcely anyone would be prepared to dedicate his person to so risky a task, there is but one possible answer:
Thank the Lord, Germanic democracy means just this: that any old climber or moral slacker cannot rise by devious paths to govern his national comrades, but that, by the very greatness of the responsibility to be assumed, incompetents and weaklings are frightened off.
But if, nevertheless, one of these scoundrels should attempt to sneak in, we can find him more easily, and mercilessly challenge him: Out, cowardly scoundrel! Remove your foot, you are besmirching the steps; the front steps of the Pantheon of history are not for sneak-thieves, but for heroes!
I had fought my way to this conclusion after two years attendance at the Vienna parliament.
After that I never went back.
The parliamentary regime shared the chief blame for the weakness, constantly increasing in the past few years, of the Habsburg state. The more its activities broke the predominance of the Germans, the more the country succumbed to a system of playing off the nationalities against one another. In the Reichsrat itself this was always done at the expense of the Germans and thereby, in the last analysis, at the expense of the Empire; for by the turn of the century it must have been apparent even to the simplest that the monarchy's force of attraction would no longer be able to withstand the separatist tendencies of the provinces.
On the contrary.
The more pathetic became the means which the state had to employ for its preservation, the more the general contempt for it increased. Not only in Hungary, but also in the separate Slavic provinces, people began to identify themselves so little with the common monarchy that they did not regard its weakness as their own disgrace. On the contrary, they rejoiced at such symptoms of old age; for they hoped more for the Empire's death than for its recovery.
In parliament, for the moment, total collapse was averted by undignified submissiveness and acquiescence at every extortion, for which the German had to pay in the end; and in the country, by most skillfully playing off the different peoples against each other. But the general line of development was nevertheless directed against the Germans. Especially since Archduke Francis Ferdinand became heir apparent and began to enjoy a certain influence, there began to be some plan and order in the policy of Czechization from above. With all possible means, this future ruler of the dual monarchy tried to encourage a policy of deGermanization, to advance it himself or at least to sanction it. Purely German towns, indirectly through government official dom, were slowly but steadily pushed into the mixed-language danger zones. Even in Lower Austria this process began to make increasingly rapid progress, and many Czechs considered Vienna their largest city.
The central idea of this new Habsburg, whose family had ceased to speak anything but Czech (the Archduke's wife, a former Czech countess, had been morganatically married to the Prince-she came from circles whose anti-German attitude was traditional), was gradually to establish a Slavic state in Central Europe which for defense against Orthodox Russia should be placed on a strictly Catholic basis. Thus, as the Habsburgs had so often done before, religion was once again put into the service of a purely political idea, and what was worse-at least from the German viewpoint-of a catastrophic idea.
The result was more than dismal in many respects. Neither the House of Habsburg nor the Catholic Church received the expected reward.
Habsburg lost the throne, Rome a great state.
For by employing religious forces in the service of its political considerations, the crown aroused a spirit which at the outset it had not considered possible.
In answer to the attempt to exterminate the Germans in the old monarchy by every possible means, there arose the PanGerman movement in Austria.
By the eighties the basic Jewish tendency of Manchester liberalism had reached, if not passed, its high point in the monarchy. The reaction to it, however, as with everything in old Austria, arose primarily from a social, not from a national standpoint. The instinct of self-preservation forced the Germans to adopt the sharpest measures of defense. Only secondarily did economic considerations begin to assume a decisive influence. And so, two party formations grew out of the general political confusion, the one with the more national, the other with the more social, attitude, but both highly interesting and instructive for the future.
After the depressing end of the War of 1866, the House of Habsburg harbored the idea of revenge on the battlefield. Only the death of Emperor Max of Mexico, whose unfortunate expedition was blamed primarily on Napoleon III and whose abandonment by the French aroused general indignation, prevented a closer collaboration with France. Habsburg nevertheless lurked in wait. If the War of 1870-71 had not been so unique a triumph, the Vienna Court would probably have risked a bloody venture to avenge Sadowa. But when the first amazing and scarcely credible, but none the less true, tales of heroism arrived from the battlefields, the 'wisest' of all monarchs recognized that the hour was not propitious and put the best possible face on a bad business.
But the heroic struggle of these years had accomplished an even mightier miracle; for with the Habsburgs a change of position never arose from the urge of the innermost heart, but from the compulsion of circumstances. However, the German people of the old Ostmark were swept along by the Reich's frenzy of victory, and looked on with deep emotion as the dream of their fathers was resurrected to glorious reality.
For make no mistake: the truly German-minded Austrian had, even at Koniggratz, and from this time on, recognized the tragic but necessary prerequisite for the resurrection of a Reich which would no longer be-and actually was not-afflicted with the foul morass of the old Union. Above all, he had come to understand thoroughly, by his own suffering, that the House of Habsburg had at last concluded its historical mission and that the new Reich could choose as Emperor only him whose heroic convictions made him worthy to bear the 'Crown of the Rhine.' But how much more was Fate to be praised for accomplishing this investiture in the scion of a house which in Frederick the Great had given the nation a gleaming and eternal symbol of its
But when after the great war the House of Habsburg began with desperate determination slowly but inexorably to exterminate the dangerous German element in the dual monarchy (the inner convictions of this element could not be held in doubt), for such would be the inevitable result of the Slavization policy- the doomed people rose to a resistance such as modern German history had never seen.
For the first time, men of national and patriotic mind became rebels.
Rebels, not against the nation and not against the state as such, but rebels against a kind of government which in their conviction would inevitably lead to the destruction of their own nationality.
For the first time in modern German history, traditional dynastic patriotism parted ways with the national love of fatherland and people.
The Pan-German movement in German-Austria in the nineties is to be praised for demonstrating in clear, unmistakable terms that a state authority is entitled to demand respect and protection only when it meets the interests of a people, or at least does not harm them.
There can be no such thing as state authority as an end in itself, for, if there were, every tyranny in this world would be unassailable and sacred.
If, by the instrument of governmental power, a nationality is led toward its destruction, then rebellion is not only the right of every member of such a *******it is his duty.
And the question-when is this the case?-is decided not by theoretical dissertations, but by force and-results.
Since, as a matter of course, all governmental power claims the duty of preserving state authority-regardless how vicious it is, betraying the interests of a people a thousandfold-the national instinct of self-preservation, in overthrowing such a power and achieving freedom or independence, will have to employ the same weapons by means of which the enemy tries to maintain his power. Consequently, the struggle will be carried on with 'legal' means as long as the power to be overthrown employs such means; but it will not shun illegal means if the oppressor uses them.
In general it should not be forgotten that the highest aim of human existence is not the preservation of a state, let alone a government, but the preservation of the species.
And if the species itself is in danger of being oppressed or utterly eliminated, the question of legality is reduced to a subordinate role. Then, even if the methods of the ruling power are alleged to be legal a thousand times over, nonetheless the oppressed people's instinct of self-preservation remains the loftiest justification of their struggle with every weapon.
Only through recognition of this principle have wars of liberation against internal and external enslavement of nations on this earth come down to us in such majestic historical examples.
Human law cancels out state law.
And if a people is defeated in its struggle for human rights, this merely means that it has been found too light in the scale of destiny for the happiness of survival on this earth. For when a people is not willing or able to fight for its existence- Providence in its eternal justice has decreed that people's end.
The world is not for cowardly peoples.
How easy it is for a tyranny to cover itself with the cloak of so-called 'legality' is shown most clearly and penetratingly by the example of Austria.
The legal state power in those days was rooted in the antiGerman soil of parliament with its non-German majorities- and in the equally anti-German ruling house. In these two factors the entire state authority was embodied. Any attempt to change the destinies of the German-Austrian people from this position was absurd. Hence, in the opinions of our friends the worshipers of state authority as such and of the 'legal' way, all resistance would have had to be shunned, as incompatible with legal methods. But this, with compelling necessity, would have meant the end of the German people in the monarchy-and in a very short time. And, as a matter of fact, the Germans were saved from this fate only by the collapse of this state.
The bespectacled theoretician, it is true, would still prefer to die for his doctrine than for his people.
Since it is men who make the laws, he believes that they live for the sake of these laws.
The Pan-German movement in Austria had the merit of completely doing away with this nonsense, to the horror of all theoretical pedants and other fetish-worshiping isolationists in the government.
Since the Habsburgs attempted to attack Germanism with all possible means, this party attacked the 'exalted' ruling house itself, and without mercy. For the first time it probed into this rotten state and opened the eyes of hundreds of thousands. To its credit be it said that it released the glorious concept of love of fatherland from the embrace of this sorry dynasty.
In the early days of its appearance, its following was extremely great, threatening to become a veritable avalanche. But the success did not last. When I came to Vienna, the movement had long been overshadowed by the Christian Social Party which had meanwhile attained power-and had indeed been reduced to almost complete insignificance.
This whole process of the growth and passing of the Pan-German movement on the one hand, and the unprecedented rise of the Christian Social Party on the other, was to assume the deepest significance for me as a classical object of study.
When I came to Vienna, my sympathies were fully and wholly on the side of the Pan-German tendency.
That they mustered the courage to cry 'Loch Hohenzollern' impressed me as much as it pleased me; that they still regarded themselves as an only temporarily severed part of the German Reich, and never let a moment pass without openly attesting this fact, inspired me with joyful confidence; that in all questions regarding Germanism they showed their colors without reserve, and never descended to compromises, seemed to me the one still passable road to the salvation of our people; and I could not understand how after its so magnificent rise the movement should have taken such a sharp decline. Even less could I understand how the Christian Social Party at this same period could achieve such immense power. At that time it had just reached the apogee of its glory.
As I set about comparing these movements, Fate, accelerated by my otherwise sad situation, gave me the best instruction for an understanding of the causes of this riddle.
I shall begin my comparisons with the two men who may be regarded as the leaders and founders of the two parties: Georg von Schonerer and Dr. Karl Lueger.
From a purely human standpoint they both tower far above the scope and stature of so-called parliamentary figures. Amid the morass of general political corruption their whole life remained pure and unassailable. Nevertheless my personal sympathy lay at first on the side of the Pan-German Schonerer, and turned only little by little toward the Christian Social leader as well.
Compared as to abilities, Schonerer seemed to me even then the better and more profound thinker in questions of principle. He foresaw the inevitable end of the Austrian state more clearly and correctly than anyone else. If, especially in the Reich, people had paid more attention to his warnings against the Habsburg monarchy, the calamity of Germany's World War against all Europe would never have occurred.
But if Schonerer recognized the problems in their innermost essence, he erred when it came to men.
Here, on the other hand, lay Dr. Lueger's strength.
He had a rare knowledge of men and in particular took good care not to consider people better than they are. Consequently, he reckoned morewith the real possibilities of life while Schonerer had but little understanding for them. Theoretically speaking, all the Pan-German's thoughts were correct, but since he lacked the force and astuteness to transmit his theoretical knowledge to the masses-that is, to put it in a form suited to the receptivity of the broad masses, which is and remains exceedingly limited-all his knowledge was visionary wisdom, and could never become practical reality.
And this lack of actual knowledge of men led in the course of time to an error in estimating the strength of whole movements as well as age-old institutions.
Finally, Schonerer realized, to be sure, that questions of basic philosophy were involved, but he did not understand that only the broad masses of a people are primarily able to uphold such well-nigh religious convictions.
Unfortunately, he saw only to a limited extent the extra-ordinary limitation of the will to fight in so-called 'bourgeois' circles, due, if nothing else, to their economic position which makes the individual fear to lose too much and thereby holds him in check.
And yet, on the whole, a philosophy can hope for victory only if the broad masses adhere to the new doctrine and declare their readiness to undertake the necessary struggle.
From this deficient understanding of the importance of the lower strata of the people arose a completely inadequate con-ception of the social question.
In all this Dr. Lueger was the opposite of Schonerer.
His thorough knowledge of men enabled him to judge the possible forces correctly, at the same time preserving him from underestimating existing institutions, and perhaps for this very reason taught him to make use of these institutions as instruments for the achievement of his purposes.
He understood only too well that the political fighting power of the upper bourgeoisie at the present time was but slight and inadequate for achieving the victory of a great movement. He therefore laid the greatest stress in his political activity on winning over the classes whose existence was threatened and therefore tended to spur rather than paralyze the will to fight. Likewise he was inclined to make use of all existing implements of power, to incline mighty existing institutions in his favor, drawing from these old sources of power the greatest possible profit for his own movement.
Thus he adjusted his new party primarily to the middle class menaced with destruction, and thereby assured himself of a following that was difficult to shake, whose spirit of sacrifice was as great as its fighting power. His policy toward the Catholic Church, fashioned with infinite shrewdness, in a short time won over the younger clergy to such an extent that the old Clerical Party was forced either to abandon the field, or, more wisely, to join the new party, in order to slowly recover position after position.
To take this alone as the characteristic essence of the man would be to do him a grave injustice. For in addition to being an astute tactician, he had the qualities of a truly great and brilliant reformer: though here, too, he observed the limits set by a precise knowledge of the existing possibilities as well as his own personal abilities.
It was an infinitely practical goal that this truly significant man had set himself. He wanted to conquer Vienna. Vienna was the heart of the monarchy; from this city the last flush of life flowed out into the sickly, old body of the crumbling empire. The healthier the heart became, the more the rest of the body was bound to revive: an idea, correct in principle, but which could be applied only for a certain limited time.
And herein lay this man's weakness.
What he had done as mayor of Vienna is immortal in the best sense of the word; but he could no longer save the monarchy, it was too late.
His opponent, Schonerer, had seen this more clearly
All Dr. Lueger's practical efforts were amazingly successful the hopes he based on them were not realized.
Schonerer's efforts were not successful, but his most terrible fears came true.
Thus neither man realized his ultimate goal. Lueger could no longer save Austria, and Schonerer could no longer save the German people from ruin.
It is infinitely instructive for our present day to study the causes for the failure of both parties. This is particularly useful for my friends, since in many points conditions today are similar to then and errors can thereby be avoided which at that time caused the end of the one movement and the sterility of the other.
To my mind, there were three causes for the collapse of the Pan-German movement in Austria.
In the first place, its unclear conception of the significance of the social problem, especially for a new and essentially revolutionary party.
Since Schonerer and his followers addressed themselves principally to bourgeois circles, the result was bound to be very feeble and tame.
Though some people fail to suspect it, the German bourgeoisie, especially in its upper circles, is pacifistic to the point of positive self-abnegation, where internal affairs of the nation or state are concerned. In good times that is, in this case, in times of good government such an attitude makes these classes extremely valuable to the state; but in times of an inferior regime it is positively ruinous. To make possible the waging of any really serious struggle, the Pan-German movement should above all have dedicated itself to winning the masses. That it failed to do so deprived it in advance of the elemental impetus which a wave of its kind simply must have if it is not in a short time to ebb away.
Unless this principle is borne in mind and carried out from the very start, the new party loses all possibility of later making up for what has been lost. For, by the admission of numerous moderate bourgeois elements, the basic attitude of the movement will always be governed by them and thus lose any further prospect of winning appreciable forces from the broad masses. As a result, such a movement will not rise above mere grumbling and criticizing. The faith bordering more or less on religion, combined with a similar spirit of sacrifice, will cease to exist; in its place will arise an effort gradually to grind off the edges of struggle by means of 'positive' collaboration; that is, in this case, by acceptance of the existing order, thus ultimately leading to a putrid peace.
And this is what happened to the Pan-German movement because it had not from the outset laid its chief stress on winning supporters from the circles of the great masses. It achieved 'bourgeois respectability and a muffled radicalism.'
From this error arose the second cause of its rapid decline.
At the time of the emergence of the Pan-German movement the situation of the Germans in Austria was already desperate. From year to year the parliament had increasingly become an institution for the slow destruction of the German people. Any attempt at salvation in the eleventh hour could offer even the slightest hope of success only if this institution were eliminated.
Thus the movement was faced with a question of basic importance:
Should its members, to destroy parliament, go into parliament, in order, as people used to say, 'to bore from within,' or should they carry on the struggle from outside by an attack on this institution as such?
They went in and they came out defeated.
To be sure, they couldn't help but go in.
To carry on the struggle against such a power from outside means to arm with unflinching courage and to be prepared for endless sacrifices. You seize the bull by the horns, you suffer many heavy blows, you are sometimes thrown to the earth, sometimes you get up with broken limbs, and only after the hardest contest does victory reward the bold assailant. Only the greatness of the sacrifices will win new fighters for the cause, until at last tenacity is rewarded by success.
But for this the sons of the broad masses are required.
They alone are determined and tough enough to carry through the fight to its bloody end.
And the Pan-German movement did not possess these broad masses; thus no course remained open but to go into parliament
It would be a mistake to believe that this decision was the result of long soul torments, or even meditations; no, no other idea entered their heads. Participation in this absurdity was only the sediment resulting from general, unclear conceptions regarding the significance and effect of such a participation in an institution which had in principle been recognized as false. In general, the party hoped that this would facilitate the enlightenment of the broad masses, since it would now have an opportunity to speak before the 'forum of the whole nation.' Besides, it seemed plausible that attacking the root of the evil was bound to be more successful than storming it from outside. They thought the security of the individual fighter was increased by the protection of parliamentary immunity, and that this could only enhance the force of the attack.
In reality, it must be said, things turned out very differently.
The forum before which the Pan-German deputies spoke had not become greater but smaller; for each man speaks only to the circle which can hear him, or which obtains an account of his words in the newspapers.
And, not the halls of parliament, but the great public meeting, represents the largest direct forum of listeners.
For, in the latter, there are thousands of people who have come only to hear what the speaker has to say to them, while in the halls of parliament there are only a few hundreds, and most of these are present only to collect their attendance fees, and cer-tainly not to be illuminated by the wisdom of this or that fellow 'representative of the people.'
And above all:
This is always the same public, which will never learn anything new, since, aside from the intelligence, it is lacking in the very rudiments of will.
Never will one of these representatives of the people honor a superior truth of his own accord, and place himself in its service.
No, this is something that not a single one of them will do unless he has reason to hope that by such a shift he may save his mandate for one more session. Only when it is in the air that the party in power will come off badly in a coming election, will these ornaments of virility shift to a party or tendency which they presume will come out better, though you may be confident that this change of position usually occurs amidst a cloudburst of moral justifications. Consequently, when an existing party appears to be falling beneath the disfavor of the people to such an extent that the probability of an annihilating defeat threatens, such a great shift will always begin: then the parliamentary rats leave the party ship.
All this has nothing to do with better knowledge or intentions, but only with that prophetic gift which warns these parliamentary bedbugs at the right moment and causes them to drop, again and again, into another warm party bed.
But to speak to such a 'forum' is really to cast pearls before the well-known domestic beasts. It is truly not worth while. The result can be nothing but zero.
And that is just what it was.
The Pan-German deputies could talk their throats hoarse: the effect was practically nil.
The press either killed them with silence or mutilated their speeches in such a way that any coherence, and often even the sense, was twisted or entirely lost, and public opinion received a very poor picture of the aims of the new movement. What the various gentlemen said was quite unimportant; the important thing was what people read about them. And this was an extract from their speeches, so disjointed that it could-as intended-only seem absurd. The only forum to which they really spoke consisted of five hundred parliamentarians, and that is enough said.
But the worst was the following:
The Pan-German movement could count on success only if it realized from the very first day that what was required was not a new party, but a new philosophy. Only the latter could produce the inward power to fight this gigantic struggle to its end. And for this, only the very best and courageous minds can serve as leaders.
If the struggle for a philosophy is not lead by heroes prepared to make sacrifices, there will, in a short time, cease to be any warriors willing to die. The man who is fighting for his own existence cannot have much left over for the community.
In order to maintain this requirement, every man must know that the new movement can offer the present nothing but honor and fame in posterity. The more easily attainable posts and offices a movement has to hand out, the more inferior stuff it will attract, and in the end these political hangers-on overwhelm a successful party in such number that the honest fighter of former days no longer recognizes the old movement and the new arrivals definitely reject him as an unwelcome intruder. When this happens, the 'mission' of such a movement is done for.
As soon as the Pan-German movement sold its soul to parlia-ment, it attracted 'parliamentarians' instead of leaders and fighters.
Thus it sank to the level of the ordinary political parties of the day and lost the strength to oppose a catastrophic destiny with the defiance of martyrdom. Instead of fighting, it now learned to make speeches and 'negotiate.' And in a short time the new parliamentarian found it a more attractive, because less dangerous, duty to fight for the new philosophy with the 'spiritual' weapons of parliamentary eloquence, than to risk his own life, if necessary, by throwing himself into a struggle whose issue was uncertain and which in any case could bring him no profit.
Once they had members in parliament, the supporters outside began to hope and wait for miracles which, of course, did not occur and could not occur. For this reason they soon became impatient, for even what they heard from their own deputies was by no means up to the expectations of the voters. This was perfectly natural, since the hostile press took good care not to give the people any faithful picture of the work of the Pan-German deputies.
The more the new representatives of the people developed a taste for the somewhat gentler variety of 'revolutionary' struggle in parliament and the provincial diets, the less prepared they were to return to the more dangerous work of enlightening the broad masses of the people. The mass meeting, the only way to exert a truly effective, because personal, influence on large sections of the people and thus possibly to win them, was thrust more and more into the background.
Once the platform of parliament was definitely substituted for the beer table of the meeting hall, and from this forum speeches were poured, not into the people, but on the heads of their so called 'elect,' the Pan-German movement ceased to be a movement of the people and in a short time dwindled into an academic discussion club to be taken more or less seriously.
Consequently, the bad impression transmitted by the press was in no way corrected by personal agitation at meetings by the individual gentlemen, with the result that finally the word 'PanGerman' began to have a very bad sound in the ears of the broad masses.
For let it be said to all our present-day fops and knights of the pen: the greatest revolutions in this world have never been directed by a goose-quill!
No, to the pen it has always been reserved to provide their theoretical foundations.
But the power which has always started the greatest religious and political avalanches in history rolling has from time immemorial been the magic power of the spoken word, and that alone.
Particularly the broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech. And all great movements are popular movements, volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotional sentiments, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or by the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses; they are not the lemonade-like outpourings of literary aesthetes and drawingroom heroes.
Only a storm of hot passion can turn the destinies of peoples, and he alone can arouse passion who bears it within himself.
It alone gives its chosen one the words which like hammer blows can open the gates to the heart of a people.
But the man whom passion fails and whose lips are sealed- he has not been chosen by Heaven to proclaim its will.
Therefore, let the writer remain by his ink-well, engaging in 'theoretical' activity, if his intelligence and ability are equal to it; for leadership he is neither born nor chosen.
A movement with great aims must therefore be anxiously on its guard not to lose contact with the broad masses.
It must examine every question primarily from this standpoint and make its decisions accordingly.
It must, furthermore, avoid everything which might diminish or even weaken its ability to move the masses, not for 'demagogic' reasons, but in the simple knowledge that without the mighty force of the mass of a people, no great idea, however lofty and noble it may seem, can be realized.
Hard reality alone must determine the road to the goal; unwillingness to travel unpleasant roads only too often in this world means to renounce the goal; which may or may not be what you want.
As soon as the Pan-German movement by its parliamentary attitude had shifted the weight of its activity to parliament instead of the people, it lost the future and instead won cheap successes of the moment.
It chose the easier struggle and thereby became unworthy of ultimate victory.
Even in Vienna I pondered this very question with the greatest care, and in the failure to recognize it saw one of the main causes of the collapse of the movement which in those days, in my opinion, was predestined to undertake the leadership of the German element.
The first two mistakes which caused the Pan-German movement to founder were related to each other. Insufficient knowledge of the inner driving forces of great revolutions led to an insufficient estimation of the importance of the broad masses of the people; from this resulted its insufficient interest in the social question, its deficient and inadequate efforts to win the soul of the lower classes of the nation, as well as its over-favorable attitude toward parliament.
If they had recognized the tremendous power which at all times must be attributed to the masses as the repository of revolutionary resistance, they would have worked differently in social and propagandist matters. Then the movement's center of gravity would not have been shifted to parliament, but to the workshop and the street.
Likewise the third error finds its ultimate germ in failure to recognize the value of the masses, which, it is true, need superior minds to set them in motion in a given direction, but which then, like a flywheel, lend the force of the attack momentum and uniform persistence.
The hard struggle which the Pan-germans fought with the Catholic Church can be accounted for only by their insufficient understanding of the spiritual nature of the people.
The causes for the new party's violent attack on Rome were as follows:
As soon as the House of Habsburg had definitely made up its mind to reshape Austria into a Slavic state, it seized upon every means which seemed in any way suited to this tendency. Even religious institutions were, without the slightest qualms, harnessed to the service of the new ' state idea ' by this unscrupulous ruling house.
The use of Czech pastorates and their spiritual shepherds was but one of the many means of attaining this goal, a general Slavization of Austria.
The process took approximately the following form:
Czech pastors were appointed to German communities; slowly but surely they began to set the interests of the Czech people above the interests of the churches, becoming germ-cells of the de-Germanization process.
The German clergy did practically nothing to counter these methods. Not only were they completely useless for carrying on this struggle in a positive German sense; they were even unable to oppose the necessary resistance to the attacks of the adversary. Indirectly, by the misuse of religion on the one hand, and owing to insufficient defense on the other, Germanism was slowly but steadily forced back.
If in small matters the situation was as described, in big things, unfortunately, it was not far different.
Here, too, the anti-German efforts of the Habsburgs did not encounter the resistance they should have, especially on the part of the high clergy, while the defense of German interests sank completely into the background.
The general impression could only be that the Catholic clergy as such was grossly infringing on German rights.
Thus the Church did not seem to feel with the German people, but to side unjustly with the enemy. The root of the whole evil lay, particularly in Schonerer's opinion, in the fact that the di-recting body of the Catholic Church was not in Germany, and that for this very reason alone it was hostile to the interests of our nationality.
The so-called cultural problems, in this as in virtually every other connection in Austria at that time, were relegated almost entirely to the background. The attitude of the Pan-German movement toward the Catholic Church was determined far less by its position on science, etc., than by its inadequacy in the championing of German rights and, conversely, its continued aid and comfort to Slavic arrogance and greed.
Georg Schonerer was not the man to do things by halves. He took up the struggle toward the Church in the conviction that by it alone he could save the German people. The 'AwayfromRome' movement seemed the most powerful, though, to be sure, the most difficult, mode of attack, which would inevitably shatter the hostile citadel. If it was successful, the tragic church schism in Germany would be healed, and it was possible that the inner strength of the Empire and the German nation would gain enormously by such a victory.
But neither the premise nor the inference of this struggle was correct.
Without doubt the national force of resistance of the Catholic clergy of German nationality, in all questions connected with Germanism, was less than that of their non-German, particularly Czech, brethren.
Likewise only an ignoramus could fail to see that an offensive in favor of German interests was something that practically never occurred to the German clergyman.
And anyone who was not blind was forced equally to admit that this was due primarily to a circumstance under which all of us Germans have to suffer severely: that is, the objectivity of our attitude toward our nationality as well as everything else.
While the Czech clergyman was subjective in his attitude toward his people and objective only toward the Church, the German pastor was subjectively devoted to the Church and remained objective toward the nation. A phenomenon which, to our misfortune, we can observe equally well in thousands of other cases.
This is by no means a special legacy of Catholicism, but with us it quickly corrodes almost every institution, whether it be governmental or ideal.
Just compare the position which our civil servants, for example, take toward the attempts at a national awakening with the position which in such a case the civil servants of another people would take. Or does anyone believe that an officers' corps anywhere else in the world would subordinate the interests of the nation amid mouthings about 'state authority,' in the way that has been taken for granted in our country for the last five years, in fact, has been viewed as especially meritorious? In the Jewish question, for example, do not both denominations today take a standpoint which corresponds neither to the requirements of the nation nor to the real needs of religion? Compare the attitude of a Jewish rabbi in all questions of even the slightest importance for the Jews as a race with the attitude of by far the greatest part of our clergy-of both denominations, if you please!
We always find this phenomenon when it is a question of defending an abstract idea as such.
'State authority,' 'democracy,' 'pacifism,' 'international solidarity,' etc., are all concepts which with us nearly always become so rigid and purely doctrinaire that subsequently all purely national vital necessities are judged exclusively from their standpoint.
This catastrophic way of considering all matters from the angle of a preconceived opinion kills every possibility of thinking oneself subjectively into a matter which is objectively opposed to one's own doctrine, and finally leads to a total reversal of means and ends. People will reject any attempt at a national uprising if it can take place only after the elimination of a bad, ruinous regime, since this would be an offense against 'state authority,' and ' state authority ' is not a means to an end, but in the eyes of such a fanatical objectivist rather represents the aim itself, which is sufficient to fill out his whole lamentable life. Thus, for example, they would indignantly oppose any attempt at a dictatorship, even if it was represented by a Frederick the Great and the momentary political comedians of a parliamentary majority were incapable dwarfs or really inferior characters, just because the law of democracy seems holier to such a principle-monger than the welfare of a nation. The one will therefore defend the worst tyranny, a tyranny which is ruining the people, since at the moment it embodies 'state authority,' while the other rejects even the most beneficial government as soon as it fails to satisfy his conception of 'democracy.'
In exactly the same way, our German pacifist will accept in silence the bloodiest rape of our nation at-the hands of the most vicious military powers if a change in this state of affairs can be achieved only by resistance-that is, force-for this would be contrary to the spirit of his peace society. Let the international German Socialist be plundered in solidarity by the rest of the world, he will accept it with brotherly affection and no thought of retribution or even defense, just because he is-a German.
This may be a sad state of affairs, but to change a thing means to recognize it first.
The same is true of the weak defense of German interests by a part of the clergy.
It is neither malicious ill will in itself, nor is it caused, let us say, by commands from 'above'; no, in such a lack of national determination we see merely the result of an inadequate education in Germanism from childhood up and, on the other hand, an unlimited submission to an idea which has become an idol.
Education in democracy, in socialism of the international variety, in pacifism, etc., is a thing so rigid and exclusive, so purely subjective from these points of view, that the general picture of the remaining world is colored by this dogmatic conception, while the attitude toward Germanism has remained exceedingly objective from early youth. Thus, the pacifist, by giving himself subjectively and entirely to his idea, will, in the presence of any menace to his people, be it ever so grave and unjust, always (in so far as he is a German) seek after the objective right and never from pure instinct of self-preservation join the ranks of his herd and fight with them.
To what extent this is also true of the different religions is shown by the following:
Protestantism as such is a better defender of the interests of Germanism, in so far as this is grounded in its genesis and later tradition: it fails, however, in the moment when this defense of national interests must take place in a province which is either absent from the general line of its ideological world and traditional development, or is for some reason rejected.
Thus, Protestantism will always stand up for the advancement of all Germanism as such, as long as matters of inner purity or national deepening as well as German freedom are involved since all these things have a firm foundation in its own being; but it combats with the greatest hostility any attempt to rescue the nation from the embrace of its most mortal enemy, since its attitude toward the Jews just happens to be more or less dogmatically established. Yet here we are facing the question without whose solution all other attempts at a German reawakening or resurrection are and remain absolutely senseless and impossible.
In my Vienna period I had leisure and opportunity enough for an unprejudiced examination of this question too, and in my daily contacts was able to establish the correctness of this view a thousand times over.
In this focus of the most varied nationalities, it immediately becomes clearly apparent that the German pacifist is alone in always attempting to view the interests of his own nation objectively, but that the Jew will never regard those of the Jewish people in this way; that only the German Socialist is linternaticnal' in a sense which forbids him to beg justicefor his own people except by whimpering and whining in the midst of his international comrades, but never a Czech or a Pole, etc.; in short, I recognized even then that the misfortune lies only partly in these doctrines, and partly in our totally inadequate education in national sentiment and a resultant lack of devotion to our nation.
Thus, the first theoretical foundation for a struggle of the PanGerman movement against Catholicism as such was lacking.
Let the German people be raised from childhood up with that exclusive recognition of the rights of their own nationality, and let not the hearts of children be contaminated with the curse of our 'objectivity,' even in matters regarding the preservation of their own ego. Then in a short time it will be seen that (presupposing, of course, a radically national government) in Germany, as in Ireland, Poland, or France, the Catholic will always be a German.
The mightiest proof of this was provided by that epoch which for the last time led our nation into a life-and-death struggle before the judgment seat of history in defense of its own existence.
As long as leadership from above was not lacking, the people fulfilled their duty and obligation overwhelmingly. Whether Protestant pastor or Catholic priest, both together contributed infinitely in maintaining for so long our power to resist, not only at the front but also at home. In these years and particularly at the first flare, there really existed in both camps but a single holy German Reich, for whose existence and future each man turned to his own heaven.
The Pan-German movement in Austria should have asked itself one question:
Is the preservation of German-Austrianism possible under a Catholic faith, or is it not? If yes, the political party had no right to concern itself with religious or denominational matters; if not, then what was needed was a religious reformation and never a political party.
Anyone who thinks he can arrive at a religious reformation by the detour of a political organization only shows that he has no glimmer of knowledge of the development of religious ideas or dogmas and their ecclesiastical consequences.
Verily a man cannot serve two masters. And I consider the foundation or destruction of a religion far greater than the foundation or destruction of a state, let alone a party.
And let it not be said that this is only a defense against the attacks from the other side!
It is certain that at all times unscrupulous scoundrels have not shunned to make even religion the instrument of their political bargains (for that is what such rabble almost always and exclusively deal in): but just as certainly it is wrong to make a religious denomination responsible for a number of tramps who abuse it in exactly the same way as they would probably make anything else serve their low instincts.
Nothing can better suit one of these parliamentarian good-for-nothings and lounge-lizards than when an opportunity is offered to justify his political swindling, even after the fact.
For as soon as religion or even denomination is made responsible for his personal vices and attacked on that ground, this shameless liar sets up a great outcry and calls the whole world to witness that his behavior has been completely justified and that he alone and his eloquence are to be thanked for saving religion of the Church. The public, as stupid as it is forgetful, is, as a rule, prevented by the very outcry from recognizing the real instigator of the struggle or else has forgotten him, and the scoundrel has to all intents and purposes achieved his goal.
The sly fox knows perfectly well that this has nothing to do with religion; and he will silently laugh up his sleeve while his honest but clumsy opponent loses the game and one day, despairing of the loyalty and faith of humanity, withdraws from it all.
And in another sense it would be unjust to make religion as such or even the Church responsible for the failings of individuals. Compare the greatness of the visible organization before our eyes with the average fallibility of man in general, and you will have to admit that in it the relation of good and evil is better than anywhere else. To be sure, even among the priests themselves there are those to whom their holy office is only a means of satisfying their political ambition, yes, who in political struggle forget, in a fashion which is often more than deplorable that they are supposed to be the guardians of a higher truth and not the representatives of lies and slander-but for one such unworthy priest there are a thousand and more honorable ones, shepherds most loyally devoted to their mission, who, in our present false and decadent period, stand out of the general morass like little islands.
No more than I condemn, or would be justified in condemning, the Church as such when a degenerate individual in a cassock obscenely transgresses against morality, do I condemn it when one of the many others besmirches and betrays his nationality at a time when this is a daily occurrence anyway. Particularly today, we must not forget that for one such Ephialtes there are thousands who with bleeding heart feel the misfortune of their people and like the best of our nation long for the hour in which Heaven will smile on us again.
And if anyone replies that here we are not concerned with such everyday problems, but with questions of principle and truth or dogmatic content, we can aptly counter with another question:
If you believe that you have been chosen by Fate to reveal the truth in this matter, do so; but then have the courage to do so, not indirectly through a political party-for this is a swindle; but for today's evil substitute your future good.
But if you lack courage, or if your good is not quite clear even to yourself, then keep your fingers out of the matter; in any case, do not attempt by roundabout sneaking through a political movement to do what you dare not do with an open vizor.
Political parties have nothing to do with religious problems, as long as these are not alien to the nation, undermining the morals and ethics of the race; just as religion cannot be amalgamated with the scheming of political parties.
When Church dignitaries make use of religious institutions or doctrines to injure their nation, we must never follow them on this path and fight with the same methods.
For the political leader the religious doctrines and institutions of his people trust always remain inviolable; or else he has no right to be in politics, but should become a reformer, if he has what it takes!
Especially in Germany any other attitude would lead to a catastrophe.
In my study of the Pan-German movement and its struggle against Rome, I then, and even more in the years to come, arrived at the following conviction: This movement's inadequate appreciation of the importance of the social problem cost it the truly militant mass of the people; its entry into parliament took away its mighty impetus and burdened it with all the weaknesses peculiar to this institution; the struggle against the Catholic Church made it impossible in numerous small and middle circles, and thus robbed it of countless of the best elements that the nation can call its own.
The practical result of the Austrian Kulturkampf At was next to ****
To be sure, it succeeded in tearing some hundred thousand members away from the Church, yet without causing it any particular damage. In this case the Church really had no need to shed tears over the lost 'lambs'; for it lost only those who had long ceased to belong to it. The difference between the new reformation and the old one was that in the old days many of the best people in the Church turned away from it through profound religious conviction, while now only those who were lukewarm to begin with departed, and this from 'considerations' of a political nature.
And precisely from the political standpoint the result was just as laughable as it was sad.
Once again a promising political movement for the salvation of the German nation had gone to the dogs because it had not been led with the necessary cold ruthlessness, but had lost itself in fields which could only lead to disintegration.
For one thing is assuredly true:
The Pan-German movement would never have made this mistake but for its insufficient understanding of the psyche of the broad masses. If its leaders had known that to achieve any success one should, on purely psychological grounds, never show the masses two or more opponents, since this leads to a total disintegration of their fighting power, for this reason alone the thrust of the Pan-German movement would have been directed at a single adversary. Nothing is more dangerous for a political party than to be led by those jacks-of-all-trades who want everything but can never really achieve anything.
Regardless how much room for criticism there was in any religious denomination a political party must never for a moment lose sight of the fact that in all previous historical experience a purely political party in such situations had never succeeded in producing a religious reformation. And the aim of studying history is not to forget its lessons when occasion arises for its practical application, or to decide that the present situation is different after all, and that therefore its old eternal truths are no longer applicable; no, the purpose of studying history is precisely its lesson for the present. The man who cannot do this must not conceive of himself as a political leader; in reality he is a shallow, though usually very conceited, fool, and no amount of good will can excuse his practical incapacity.
In general the art of all truly great national leaders at all times consists among other things primarily in not dividing the attention of a people, but in concentrating it upon a single foe. The more unified the application of a people's will to fight, the greater will be the magnetic attraction of a movement and the mightier will be the impetus of the thrust. It belongs to the genius of a great leader to make even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category, because in weak and uncertain characters the knowledge of having different enemies can only too readily lead to the beginning of doubt in their own right.
Once the wavering mass sees itself in a struggle against too many enemies, objectivity will put in an appearance, throwing open the question whether all others are really wrong and only their own people or their own movement are in the right.
And this brings about the first paralysis of their own power. Hence a multiplicity of different adversaries must always be
combined so that in the eyes of the masses of one's own supporters the struggle is directed against only one enemy. This strengthens their faith in their own right and enhances their bitterness against those who attack it.
That the old Pan-German movement failed to understand this deprived it of success.
Its goal had been correct, its will pure, but the road it chose was wrong. It was like a mountain climber who keeps the peak to be climbed in view and who sets out with the greatest determination and energy, but pays no attention to the trail, for his eyes are always on his goal, so that he neither sees nor feels out the character of the ascent and thus comes to grief in the end.
The opposite state of affairs seemed to prevail with its great competitor, the Christian Social Party.
The road it chose was correct and well-chosen, but it lacked clear knowledge of its goal.
In nearly all the matters in which the Pan-German movement was wanting, the attitude of the Christian Social Party was correct and well-planned.
It possessed the necessary understanding for the importance of the masses and from the very first day assured itself of at least a part of them by open emphasis on its social character. By aiming essentially at winning the small and lower middle classes and artisans, it obtained a following as enduring as it was self-sacrificing. It avoided any struggle against a religious institution and thus secured the support of that mighty organization which the Church represents. Consequently, it possessed only a single truly great central opponent. It recognized the value of large-scale propaganda and was a virtuoso in influencing the psychological instincts of the broad masses of its adherents.
If nevertheless it was unable to achieve its goal and dream of saving Austria, this was due to two deficiencies in its method and to its lack of clarity concerning the aim itself.
The anti-Semitism of the new movement was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge. The reason for the intrusion of this mistake was the same which brought about the second fallacy
If the Christian Social Party wanted to save Austria, then in the opinion of its founders it must not operate from the standpoint of the racial principle, for if it did a dissolution of the state would, in a short time, inevitably occur. Particularly the situation in Vienna itself, in the opinion of the party leaders, demanded that all points which would divide their following should be set aside as much as possible, and that all unifying conceptions be emphasized in their stead.
At that time Vienna was so strongly permeated especially with Czech elements that only the greatest tolerance with regard to all racial questions could keep them in a party which was not anti-German to begin with. If Austria were to be saved, this was indispensable. And so they attempted to win over small Czech artisans who were especially numerous in Vienna, by a struggle against liberal Manchesterism, and in the struggle against the Jews on a religious basis they thought they had discovered a slogan transcending all of old Austria's national differences.
It is obvious that combating Jewry on such a basis could provide the Jews with small cause for concern. If the worst came to the worst, a splash of baptismal water could always save the business and the Jew at the same time. With such a superficial motivation, a serious scientific treatment of the whole problem was never achieved, and as a result far too many people, to whom this type of anti-Semitism was bound to be incomprehensible, were repelled. The recruiting power of the idea was limited almost exclusively to intellectually limited circles, unless true knowledge were substituted for purely emotional feeling. The intelligentsia remained aloof as a matter of principle. Thus the whole movement came to look more and more like an attempt at a new conversion of the Jews, or perhaps even an expression of a certain competitive envy. And hence the struggle lost the character of an inner and higher consecration; to many, and not necessarily the worst people, it came to seem immoral and reprehensible. Lacking was the conviction that this was a vital question for all humanity, with the fate of all non-Jewish peoples depending on its solution.
Through this half-heartedness the anti-Semitic line of the Christian Social Party lost its value.
It was a sham anti-Semitism which was almost worse than none at all; for it lulled people into security; they thought they had the foe by the ears, while in reality they themselves were being led by the nose.
In a short time the Jew had become so accustomed to this type of anti-Semitism that he would have missed its disappearance more than its presence inconvenienced him.
If in this the Christian Social Party had to make a heavy sacrifice to the state of nationalities, they had to make an even greater one when it came to championing Germanism as such.
They could not be 'nationalistic' unless they wanted to lose the ground from beneath their feet in Vienna. They hoped that by a pussy-footing evasion of this question they could still save the Habsburg state, and by that very thing they encompassed its ruin. And the movement lost the mighty source of power which alone can fill a political party with inner strength for any length of time.
Through this alone the Christian Social Party became a party like any other.
In those days I followed both movements most attentively One, by feeling the beat of its innermost heart, the other, carried away by admiration for the unusual man who even then seemed to me a bitter symbol of all Austrian Germanism.
When the mighty funeral procession bore the dead mayor from the City Hall toward the Ring, I was among the many hundred thousands looking on at the tragic spectacle. I was profoundly moved and my feelings told me that the work, even of this man, was bound to be in vain, owing to the fatal destiny which would inevitably lead this state to destruction. If Dr. Karl Lueger had lived in Germany, he would have been ranked among the great minds of our people; that he lived and worked in this impossible state was the misfortune of his work and of himself.
When he died, the little flames in the Balkans were beginning to leap up more greedily from month to month, and it was a gracious fate which spared him from witnessing what he still thought he could prevent.
Out of the failure of the one movement and the miscarriage of the other, I for my part sought to find the causes, and came to the certain conviction that, quite aside from the impossibility of bolstering up the state in old Austria, the errors of the two parties were as follows:
The Pan-German movement was right in its theoretical view about the aim of a German renascence, but unfortunate in its choice of methods. It was nationalistic, but unhappily not socialistic enough to win the masses. But its anti-Semitism was based on a correct understanding of the importance of the racial problem, and not on religious ideas. Its struggle against a definite denomination, however, was actually and tactically false.
The Christian Social movement had an unclear conception of the aim of a German reawakening, but had intelligence and luck in seeking its methods as a party. It understood the importance of the social question, erred in its struggle against the Jews, and had no notion of the power of the national idea.
If, in addition to its enlightened knowledge of the broad masses, the Christian Social Party had had a correct idea of the importance of the racial question, such as the Pan-German movement had achieved; and if, finally, it had itself been nationalistic, or if the Pan-German movement, in addition to its correct knowledge of the aim of the Jewish question, had adopted the practical shrewdness of the Christian Social Party, especially in its attitude toward socialism, there would have resulted a movement which even then in my opinion might have successfully intervened in German destiny.
If this did not come about, it was overwhelmingly due to the nature of the Austrian state.
Since I saw my conviction realized in no other party, I could in the period that followed not make up my mind to enter, let alone fight with, any of the existing organizations. Even then I regarded all political movements as unsuccessful and unable to carry out a national reawakening of the German people on a larger and not purely external scale.
But in this period my inner revulsion toward the Habsburg state steadily grew.
The more particularly I concerned myself with questions of foreign policy, the more my conviction rose and took root that this political formation could result in nothing but the misfortune of Germanism. More and more clearly I saw at last that the fate of the German nation would no longer be decided here, but in the Reich itself. This was true, not only of political questions, but no less for all manifestations of cultural life in general.
Also in the field of cultural or artistic affairs, the Austrian state showed all symptoms of degeneration, or at least of unimportance for the German nation. This was most true in the field of architecture. The new architecture could achieve no special successes in Austria, if for no other reason because since the completion of the Ring its tasks, in Vienna at least, had become insignificant in comparison with the plans arising in Germany.
Thus more and more I began to lead a double life; reason and reality told me to complete a school as bitter as it was beneficial in Austria, but my heart dwelt elsewhere.
An oppressive discontent had seized possession of me, the more I recognized the inner hollowness of this state and the impossibility of saving it, and felt that in all things it could be nothing but the misfortune of the German people.
I was convinced that this state inevitably oppressed and handicapped any really great German as, conversely, it would help every un-German figure.
I was repelled by the conglomeration of races which the capital showed me, repelled by this whole mixture of Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Ruthenians, Serbs, and Croats, and everywhere, the eternal mushroom of humanity-Jews and more Jews.
To me the giant city seemed the embodiment of racial desecration.
The German of my youth was the dialect of Lower Bavaria, I could neither forget it nor learn the Viennese jargon. The longer I lived in this city, the more my hatred grew for the foreign mixture of peoples which had begun to corrode this old site of German culture.
The idea that this state could be maintained much longer seemed to me positively ridiculous.
Austria was then like an old mosaic; the cement, binding the various little stones together, had grown old and begun to crumble; as long as the work of art is not touched, it can continue to give a show of existence, but as soon as it receives a blow, it breaks into a thousand fragments. The question was only when the blow would come.
Since my heart had never beaten for an Austrian monarchy, but only for a German Reich, the hour of this state's downfall could only seem to me the beginning of the redemption of the German nation.
For all these reasons a longing rose stronger and stronger in me, to go at last whither since my childhood secret desires and secret love had drawn me.
I hoped some day to make a name for myself as an architect and thus, on the large or small scale which Fate would allot me, to dedicate my sincere services to the nation.
But finally I wanted to enjoy the happiness of living and working in the place which some day would inevitably bring about the fulfillment of my most ardent and heartfelt wish: the union of my beloved homeland with the common fatherland, the German Reich.
Even today many would be unable to comprehend the greatness of such a longing, but I address myself to those to whom Fate has either hitherto denied this, or from whom in harsh cruelty it has taken it away; I address myself to all those who, detached from their mother country, have to fight even for the holy treasure of their language, who are persecuted and tortured for their loyalty to the fatherland, and who now, with poignant emotion, long for the hour which will permit them to return to the heart of their faithful mother; I address myself to all these, and I know that they will understand me !
Only he who has felt in his own skin what it means to be a German, deprived of the right to belong to his cherished fatherland, can measure the deep longing which burns at all times in the hearts of children separated from their mother country. It torments those whom it fills and denies them contentment and happiness until the gates of their father's house open, and in the common Reich, common blood gains peace and tranquillity.
Yet Vienna was and remained for me the hardest, though most thorough, school of my life. I had set foot in this town while still half a boy and I left it a man, grown quiet and grave. In it I obtained the foundations for a philosophy in general and a political view in particular which later I only needed to supplement in detail, but which never left me. But not until today have I been able to estimate at their full value those years of study.
That is why I have dealt with this period at some length, because it gave me my first visual instruction in precisely those questions which belonged to the foundations of a party which, arising from smallest beginnings, after scarcely five years is beginning to develop into a great mass movement. I do not know what my attitude toward the Jews, Social Democracy, or rather Marxism as a whole, the social question, etc., would be today if at such an early time the pressure of destiny-and my own study -had not built up a basic stock of personal opinions within me.
For if the misery of the fatherland can stimulate thousands and thousands of men to thought on the inner reasons for this collapse, this can never lead to that thoroughness and deep insight which are disclosed to the man who has himself mastered Fate only after years of struggle.
Volume One: A Reckoning
Chapter IV: Munich
IN THE SPRING of 1912 I came at last to Munich.
The city itself was as familiar to me as if I had lived for years within its walls. This is accounted for by my study which at every step had led me to this metropolis of German art. Not only has one not seen Germany if one does not know Munich-no, above all, one does not know German art if one has not seen Munich.
In any case, this period before the War was the happiest and by far the most contented of my life. Even if my earnings were still extremely meager, I did not live to be able to paint, but painted only to be able to secure my livelihood or rather to enable myself to go on studying. I possessed the conviction that I should some day, in spite of all obstacles, achieve the goal I had set myself. And this alone enabled me to bear all other petty cares of daily existence lightly and without anxiety. In addition to this, there was the heartfelt love which seized me for this city more than for any other place that I knew, almost from the first hour of my sojourn there. A German city! What a difference from Vienna! I grew sick to my stomach when I even thought back on this Babylon of races. In addition, the dialect, much closer to me, which particularly in my contacts with Lower Bavarians, reminded me of my former childhood. There were a thousand and more things which were or became inwardly dear and precious to me. But most of all I was attracted by this wonderful marriage of primordial power and fine artistic mood, this single line from the Hofbrauhaus to the Odeon, from the October Festival to the Pinakothek, etc. If today I am more attached to this city than to any other spot of earth in this world, it is partly due to the fact that it is and remains inseparably bound up with the development of my own life; if even then I achieved the happiness of a truly inward contentment, it can be attributed only to the magic which the miraculous residence of the Wittelsbachs exerts on every man who is blessed, not only with a calculating mind but with a feeling soul.
What attracted me most aside from my professional work was, here again, the study of the political events of the day, among them particularly the occurrences in the field of foreign affairs. I came to these latter indirectly through the German alliance policy which from my Austrian days I considered absolutely mistaken. However, the full extent of this self-deception on the part of the Reich had not been clear to me in Vienna. In those days I was inclined to assume-or perhaps I merely talked myself into it as an excuse-that Berlin perhaps knew how weak and unreliable the ally would be in reality, yet, for more or less mysterious reasons, held back this knowledge in order to bolster up an alliance policy which after all Bismarck himself had founded and the sudden cessation of which could not be desirable, if for no other reason lest the lurking foreigner be alarmed in any way, or the shopkeeper at home be worried.
To be sure, my associations, particularly among the people itself, soon made me see to my horror that this belief was false. To my amazement I could not help seeing everywhere that even in otherwise well-informed circles there was not the slightest glimmer of knowledge concerning the nature of the Habsburg monarchy. Particularly the common people were caught in the mad idea that the ally could be regarded as a serious power which in the hour of need would surely rise to the situation. Among the masses the monarchy was still regarded as a ' German' state on which we could count. They were of the opinion that there, too, the power could be measured by the millions as in Germany itself, and completely forgot that, in the first place: Austria had long ceased to be a German state; and in the second place: the internal conditions of this Empire were from hour to hour moving closer to disintegration.
I had come to know this state formation better than the so-called official 'diplomats,' who blindly, as almost always, rushed headlong toward catastrophe; for the mood of the people was always a mere discharge of what was funneled into public opinion from above. But the people on top made a cult of the 'ally,' as if it were the Golden Calf. They hoped to replace by cordiality what was lacking in honesty. And words were always taken for coin of the realm.
Even in Vienna I had been seized with anger when I reflected on the disparity appearing from time to time between the speeches of the official statesmen and the content of the Viennese press. And yet Vienna, in appearance at least, was still a German city. How different it was if you left Vienna, or rather German-Austria, and went to the Slavic provinces of the Empire! You had only to take up the Prague newspapers to find out what they thought of the whole exalted hocus-pocus of the Triple Alliance. There was nothing but bitter scorn and mockery for this 'masterpiece of statecraft. 'In the midst of peace, with both emperors pressing kisses of friendship on each other's foreheads, the Czechs made no secret of the fact that this alliance would be done for on the day when an attempt should be made to translate it from the moonbeams of the Nibelungen ideal into practical reality.
What excitement seized these same people several years later when the time finally came for the alliances to show their worth and Italy leapt out of the triple pact, leaving her two comrades in the lurch, and in the end even becoming their enemy ! That anyone even for a moment should have dared to believe in the possibility of such a miracle-to wit, the mirade that Italy would fight side by side with Austria-could be nothing but incomprehensible to anyone who was not stricken with diplomatic blindness. But in Austria things were not a hair's-breadth different.
In Austria the only exponents of the alliance idea were the Habsburgs and the Germans. The Habsburgs, out of calculation and compulsion; the Germans, from good faith and political-stupidity. From good faith, for they thought that by the Triple Alliance they were performing a great service for the German Reich itself, helping to strengthen and secure it; from political stupidity, because neither did the first-mentioned occur, but on the contrary, they thereby helped to chain the Reich to the corpse of a state which would inevitably drag them both into the abyss, and above all because they themselves, solely by virtue of this alliance, fell more and more a prey to de-Germanization. For by the alliance with the Reich, the Habsburgs thought they could be secure against any interference from this side, which unfortunately was the case, and thus they were able far more easily and safely to carry through their internal policy of slowly eliminating Germanism. Not only that in view of our well-known ' objectivity' they had no need to fear any intervention on the part of the Reich government, but, by pointing to the alliance, they could also silence any embarrassing voice among the Austrian-Germans which might rise in German quarters against Slavization of an excessively disgraceful character.
For what was the German in Austria to do if the Germans of the Reich recognized and expressed confidence in the Habsburg government? Should he offer resistance and be branded by the entire German public as a traitor to his own nationality? When for decades he had been making the most enormous sacrifices precisely for his nationality!
But what value did this alliance have, once Germanism had been exterminated in the Habsburg monarchy? Wasn't the value of the Triple Alliance for Germany positively dependent on the preservation of German predominance in Austria? Or did they really believe that they could live in an alliance with a Slavic Habsburg Empire?
The attitude of official German diplomacy and of all public opinion toward the internal Austrian problem of nationalities was beyond stupidity, it was positively insane! They banked on an alliance, made the future and security of a people of seventy millions dependent on it-and looked on while the sole basis for this alliance was from year to year, inexorably and by plan, being destroyed in the partner-nation. The day was bound to come when a ' treaty ' with Viennese diplomacy would remain, but the aid of an allied empire would be lost.
With Italy this was the case from the very beginning.
If people in Germany had only studied history a little more clearly, and gone into the psychology of nations, they would not have been able to suppose even for an hour that the Quirinal and the Vienna Hofburg would ever stand together on a common fighting front. Sooner would Italy have turned into a volcano than a government have dared to send even a single Italian to the battlefield for the fanatically hated Habsburg state, except as an enemy. More than once in Vienna I saw outbursts of the passionate contempt and bottomless hatred with which the Italian was ' devoted ' to the Austrian state. The sins of the House of Habsburg against Italian freedom and independence in the course of the centuries was too great to be forgotten, even if the will to forget them had been present. And it was not present; neither in the people nor in the Italian government. For Italy there were therefore two possibilities for relations with Austria: either alliance or war.
By choosing the first, the Italians were able to prepare, undisturbed, for the second.
Especially since the relation of Austria to Russia had begun to drive closer and closer to a military clash, the German alliance policy was as senseless as it was dangerous.
This was a classic case, bearing witness to the absence of any broad and correct line of thinking.
Why, then, was an alliance concluded? Only in order better to guard the future of the Reich than, reduced to her own resources, she would have been in a position to do. And this future of the Reich was nothing other than the question of preserving the German people's possibility of existence.
Therefore the question could be formulated only as follows:
What form must the life of the German nation assume in the tangible future, and how can this development be provided with the necessary foundations and the required security within the framework of general European relation of forces?
A clear examination of the premises for foreign activity on the part of German statecraft inevitably led to the following conviction:
Germany has an annual increase in population of nearly nine hundred thousand souls. The difficulty of feeding this army of new citizens must grow greater from year to year and ultimately end in catastrophe, unless ways and means are found to forestall the danger of starvation and misery in time.
There were four ways of avoiding so terrible a development for the future:
1. Following the French example, the increase of births could be artificially restricted, thus meeting the problem of overpopulation
Nature herself in times of great poverty or bad climactic conditions, as well as poor harvest, intervenes to restrict the increase of population of certain countries or races; this, to be sure, by a method as wise as it is ruthless. She diminishes, not the power of procreation as such, but the conservation of the procreated, by exposing them to hard trials and deprivations with the result that all those who are less strong and less healthy are forced back into the womb of the eternal unknown. Those whom she permits to survive the inclemency of existence are a thousand fold tested hardened, and well adapted to procreate-in turn, in order that the process of thoroughgoing selection may begin again from the beginning. By thus brutally proceeding against the individual and immediately calling him back to herself as soon as he shows himself unequal to the storm of life, she keeps the race and species strong, in fact, raises them to the highest accomplishments.
At the same time the diminution of number strengthens the individual and thus in the last analysis fortifies the species.
It is different, however, when man undertakes the limitation of his number. He is not carved of the same wood, he is ' humane.' He knows better than the cruel queen of wisdom. He limits not the conservation of the individual, but procreation itself. This seems to him, who always sees himself and never the race, more human and more justified than the opposite way. Unfortunately, however, the consequences are the reverse:
While Nature, by making procreation free, yet submitting survival to a hard trial, chooses from an excess number of individuals the best as worthy of living, thus preserving them alone and in them conserving their species, man limits procreation, but is hysterically concerned that once a being is born it should be preserved at any price. This correction of the divine will seems to him as wise as it is humane, and he takes delight in having once again gotten the best of Nature and even having proved her inadequacy. The number, to be sure, has really been limited, but at the same time the value of the individual has diminished; this, however, is something the dear little ape of the Almighty does not want to see or hear about.
For as soon as procreation as such is limited and the number of births diminished, the natural struggle for existence which leaves only the strongest and healthiest alive is obviously replaced by the obvious desire to ' save ' even the weakest and most sickly at any price, and this plants the seed of a future generation which must inevitably grow more and more deplorable the longer this mockery of Nature and her will continues.
And the end will be that such a people will some day be deprived of its existence on this earth; for man can defy the eternal laws of the will to conservation for a certain time, but sooner or later vengeance comes. A stronger race will drive out the weak, for the vital urge in its ultimate form will, time and again, burst all the absurd fetters of the so-called humanity of individuals, in order to replace it by the humanity of Nature which destroys the weak to give his place to the strong.
Therefore, anyone who wants to secure the existence of the German people by a self-limitation of its reproduction is robbing it of its future.
2. A second way would be one which today we, time and time again, see proposed and recommended: internal colonization. This is a proposal which is well meant by just as many as by most people it is misunderstood, thus doing the greatest conceivable damage that anyone can imagined
Without doubt the productivity of the soil can be increased up to a certain limit. But only up to a certain limit, and not continuously without end. For a certain time it will be possible to compensate for the increase of the German people without having to think of hunger, by increasing the productivity of our soil. But beside this, we must face the fact that our demands on life ordinarily rise even more rapidly than the number of the population Man's requirements with regard to food and clothing increase from year to year, and even now, for example, stand in no relation to the requirements of our ancestors, say a hundred years ago. It IS, therefore, insane to believe that every rise in production provides the basis for an increase in population: no; this is true only up to a certain degree, since at least a part of the increased production of the soil is spent in satisfying the increased needs of men. But even with the greatest limitation on the one hand and the utmost industry on the other, here again a limit will one day be reached, created by the soil itself. With the utmost toil it will not be possible to obtain any more from its and then, though postponed for a certain time, catastrophe again manifests itself. First, there will be hunger from time to time, when there is famine, etc. As the population increases, this will happen more and more often, so that finally it will only be absent when rare years of great abundance fill the granaries. But at length the time approaches when even then it will not be possible to satisfy men's needs, and hunger has become the eternal companion of such a people. Then Nature must help again and make a choice among those whom she has chosen for life; but again man helps himself; that is, he turns to artificial restriction of his increase with all the above-indicated dire consequences for race and species.
The objection may still be raised that this future will face the whole of humanity in any case and that consequently the individual nation can naturally not avoid this fate.
At first glance this seems perfectly correct. Yet here the following must be borne in mind:
Assuredly at a certain time the whole of humanity will be compelled, in consequence of the impossibility of making the fertility of the soil keep pace with the continuous increase in population, to halt the increase of the human race and either let Nature again decide or, by self-help if possible, create the necessary balance, though, to be sure, in a more correct way than is done today. But then this will strike all peoples, while today only those races are stricken with such suffering which no longer possess the force and strength to secure for themselves the necessary territories in this world. For as matters stand there are at the present time on this earth immense areas of unused soil, only waiting for the men to till them. But it is equally true that Nature as such has not reserved this soil for the future possession of any particular nation or race; on the contrary, this soil exists for the people which possesses the force to take it and the industry to cultivate it.
Nature knows no political boundaries. First, she puts living creatures on this globe and watches the free play of forces. She then confers the master's right on her favorite child, the strongest in courage and industry.
When a people limits itself to internal colonization because other races are clinging fast to greater and greater surfaces of this earth, it will be forced to have recourse to self-limitation at a time when the other peoples are still continuing to increase. Some day this situation will arise, and the smaller the living space at the disposal of the people, the sooner it will happen. Since in general, unfortunately, the best nations, or, even more correctly, the only truly cultured races, the standard-bearers of all human progress, all too frequently resolve in their pacifistic blindness to renounce new acquisitions of soil and content themselves with 'internal' colonization, while the inferior races know how to secure immense living areas in this world for themselves-this would lead to the following final result:
The culturally superior, but less ruthless races, would in consequence of their limited soil, have to limit their increase at a time when the culturally inferior but more brutal and more natural t peoples, in consequence of their greater living areas, would still be in a position to increase without limit. In other words: some day the world will thus come into possession of the culturally inferior but more active men.
Then, though in a perhaps very distant future, there will be but two possibilities either the world will be governed according to the ideas of our modern democracy, and then the weight of any decision will result in favor of the numerically stronger races, or the world will be dominated in accordance with the laws of the natural order of force, and then it is the peoples of brutal will who will conquer, and consequently once again not the nation of self restriction.
No one can doubt that this world will some day be exposed to the severest struggles for the existence of mankind. In the end, only the urge for self-preservation can conquer. Beneath it so-called humanity, the expression of a mixture of stupidity, cowardice, and know-it-all conceit, will melt like snow in the March sun. Mankind has grown great in eternal struggle, and only in eternal peace does it perish.
For us Germans the slogan of 'inner colonization' is catastrophic, if for no other reason because it automatically reinforces us in the opinion that we have found a means which, in accordance with the pacifistic tendency, allows us ' to earn ' our right to exist by labor in a life of sweet slumbers. Once this doctrine were taken seriously in our country, it would mean the end of every exertion to preserve for ourselves the place which is our due. Once the average German became convinced that he could secure his life and future in this way, all attempts at an active, and hence alone fertile, defense of German vital necessities would be doomed to failure. In the face of such an attitude on the part of the nation any really beneficial foreign policy could be regarded as buried, and with it the future of the German people as a whole.
Taking these consequences into account, it is no accident that it is always primarily the Jew who tries and succeeds in planting such mortally dangerous modes of thought in our people. He knows his customers too well not to realize that they gratefully let themselves be swindled by any gold-brick salesman who can make them think he has found a way to play a little trick on Nature, to make the hard, inexorable struggle for existence superfluous, and instead, sometimes by work, but sometimes by plain doing nothing, depending on how things 'come out,' to become the lord of the planet.
It cannot be emphasized sharply enough that any German internal colonization must serve to eliminate social abuses particularly to withdraw the soil from widespread speculation, best can never suffice to secure the future of the nation without the acquisition of new soil.
If we do not do this, we shall in a short time have arrived, not only at the end of our soil, but also at the end of our strength.
Finally, the following must be stated:
The limitation to a definite small area of soil, inherent in internal colonization, like the same final effect obtained by restriction of procreation, leads to an exceedingly unfavorable politicomilitary situation in the nation in question.
The size of the area inhabited by a people constitutes in itself an essential factor for determining its ******d security. The greater the quantity of space at the disposal of a people, the greater its natural protection; for military decisions against peoples living in a small restricted area have always been obtained more quickly and hence more easily, and in particular more effectively and completely than can, conversely, be possible against territorially extensive states. In the size of a state's territory there always lies a certain protection against frivolous attacks, since success can be achieved only after hard struggles, and therefore the risk of a rash assault will seem too great unless there are quite exceptional grounds for it. Hence the very size of a state offers in itself a basis for more easily preserving the freedom and independence of a people, while, conversely, the smallness of such a formation is a positive invitation to seizure.
Actually the two first possibilities for creating a balance between the rising population and the stationary amount of soil were rejected in the so-called national circles of the Reich. The reasons for this position were, to be sure, different from those above mentioned: government circles adopted a negative attitude toward the limitation of births out of a certain moral feeling; they indignantly rejected internal colonization because in it they scented an attack against large landholdings and therein the beginning of a wider struggle against private property in general. In view of the form in which particularly the latter panacea was put forward, they may very well have been right in this assumption.
On the whole, the defense against the broad masses was not very skillful and by no means struck at the heart of the problem.
Thus there remained but two ways of securing work and bread for the rising population.
3. Either new soil could be acquired and the superfluous millions sent off each year, thus keeping the nation on a self sustaining basis; or we could
4. Produce for foreign needs through industry and commerce, and defray the cost of living from the proceeds.
In other words: either a territorial policy, or a colonial and commercial policy.
Both ways were contemplated, examined, recommended, and combated by different political tendencies, and the last was finally taken.
The healthier way of the two would, to be sure, have been the first.
The acquisition of new soil for the settlement of the excess population possesses an infinite number of advantages, particularly if we return from the present to the future.
For one thing, the possibility of preserving a healthy peasant class as a foundation for a whole nation can never be valued highly enough. Many of our present-day sufferings are only the consequence of the unhealthy relationship between rural and city population A solid stock of small and middle peasants has at all times been the best defense against social ills such as we possess today. And, moreover this is the only solution which enables a nation to earn its daily bread within the inner circuit of its economy. Industry and commerce recede from their unhealthy leading position and adjust themselves to the general framework of a national economy of balanced supply and demand. Both thus cease to be the basis of the nation's sustenance and become a mere instrument to that end. Since they now have only a balance ' Aberdeen domestic production and demand in all fields, they make the Subsistence of the people as a whole more or less independent foreign countries, and thus help to secure the freedom of the state and the independence of the nation, particularly in difficult Periods.
It must be said that such a territorial policy cannot be fulfilled in the Cameroons, but today almost exclusively in Europe. We must, therefore, coolly and objectively adopt the standpoint that it can certainly not be the intention of Heaven to give one people fifty times as much land and soil in this world as another. In this case we must not let political boundaries obscure for us the boundaries of eternal justice. If this earth really has room for all to live in, let us be given the soil we need for our livelihood.
True, they will not willingly do this. But then the law of selfpreservaion goes into effect; and what is refused to amicable methods, it is up to the fist to take. If our forefathers had let their decisions depend on the same pacifistic nonsense as our contemporaries, we should possess only a third of our present territory; but in that case there would scarcely be any German people for us to worry about in Europe today. No-its to our natural determination to fight for our own existence that we owe the two Ostmarks of the Reich and hence that inner strength arising from the greatness of our state and national territory which alone has enabled us to exist up to the present.
And for another reason this would have been the correct solution
Today many European states are like pyramids stood on their heads. Their European area is absurdly small in comparison to their weight of colonies, foreign trade, etc. We may say: summit in Europe, base in the whole world; contrasting with the American Union which possesses its base in its own continent and touches the rest of the earth only with its summit. And from this comes the immense inner strength of this state and the weakness of most European colonial powers.
Nor is England any proof to the contrary, since in consideration of the British Empire we too easily forget the Anglo-Saxon world as such. The position of England, if only because of her linguistic and cultural bond with the American Union, can be compared to no other state in Europe.
For Germany, consequently, the only possibility for carrying out a healthy territorial policy lay in the acquisition of new land in Europe itself. Colonies cannot serve this purpose unless they seem in large part suited for settlement by Europeans. But in the nineteenth century such colonial territories were no longer obtainable by peaceful means. Consequently, such a colonial policy could only have been carried out by means of a hard struggle which, however, would have been carried on to much better purpose, not for territories outside of Europe, but for land on the home continent itself.
Such a decision, it is true, demands undivided devotion. It is not permissible to approach with half measures or even with hesitation a task whose execution seems possible only by the harnessing of the very last possible ounce of energy. This means that the entire political leadership of the Reich should have devoted itself to this exclusive aim; never should any step have been taken, guided by other considerations than the recognition of this task and its requirements. It was indispensable to see dearly that this aim could be achieved only by struggle, and consequently to face the contest of arms with calm and composure.
All alliances, therefore, should have been viewed exclusively from this standpoint and judged according to their possible utilization. If land was desired in Europe, it could be obtained by and large only at the expense of Russia, and this meant that the new Reich must again set itself on the march along the road of the Teutonic Knights of old, to obtain by the German sword sod for the German plow and daily bread for the nation.
For such a policy there was but one ally in Europe: England.
With England alone was it possible, our rear protected, to begin the new Germanic march. Our right to do this would have been no less than the right of our forefathers. None of our pacifists refuses to eat the bread of the East, although the first plowshare in its day bore the name of 'sword'!
Consequently, no sacrifice should have been too great for winning England's willingness. We should have renounced colonies and sea power, and spared English industry our competition.
Only an absolutely clear orientation could lead to such a goal: renunciation of world trade and colonies; renunciation of a German war fleet; concentration of all the state's instruments of power on the land army.
The result, to be sure, would have been a momentary limitation but a great and mighty future.
There was a time when England would have listened to reason on this point, since she was well aware that Germany as a result of her increased population had to seek some way out and either find it with England in Europe or without England in the world. And it can primarily be attributed to this realization if at the turn of the century London itself attempted to approach Germany. For the first time a thing became evident which in the last years we have had occasion to observe in a truly terrifying fashion. People were unpleasantly affected by the thought of having to pull England's chestnuts out of the fire; as though there ever could be an alliance on any other basis than a mutual business deal. And with England such a deal could very well have been made. British diplomacy was still clever enough to realize that no service can be expected without a return.
Just suppose that an astute German foreign policy had taken over the role of Japan in 1904, and we can scarcely measure the consequences this would have had for Germany.
There would never have been any 'World War.'
The bloodshed in the year 1904 would have saved ten times as much in the years 1914 to 1918.
And what a position Germany would occupy in the world today!
In that light, to be sure, the alliance with Austria was an absurdity.
For this mummy of a state allied itself with Germany, not in order to fight a war to its end, but for the preservation of an eternal peace which could astutely be used for the slow but certain extermination of Germanism in the monarchy.
This alliance was an impossibility for another reason: because we could not expect a state to take the offensive in championing national German interests as long as this state did not possess the power and determination to put an end to the process of de-Germanization on its own immediate borders. If Germany did not possess enough national awareness and ruthless Determination to snatch power over the destinies of ten million national comrades from the hands of the impossible Habsburg state, then truly we had no right to expect that she would ever lend her hand to such farseeing and bold plans. The attitude of the old Reich on the Austrian question was the touchstone of its conduct in the struggle for the destiny of the whole nation. In any case we were not justified in looking on, as year after year Germanism was increasingly repressed, since the value of Russia's fitness for alliance was determined exclusively by the preservation of the German element.
This road, however, was not taken at all.
These people feared nothing so much as struggle, yet they were finally forced into it at the most unfavorable hour.
They wanted to run away from destiny, and it caught up with them. They dreamed of preserving world peace, and landed in the World War.
And this was the most significant reason why this third way of molding the German future was not even considered. They knew that the acquisition of new soil was possible only in the East, they saw the struggle that would be necessary and yet wanted peace at any price; for the watchword of German foreign policy had long ceased to be: preservation of the German nation by all methods; but rather: preservation of world peace by all means. With what success, everyone knows.
I shall return to this point in particular.
Thus there remained the fourth possibility
Industry and world trade, sea power and colonies.
Such a development, to be sure, was at first easier and also more quickly attainable. The settlement of land is a slow process, often lasting centuries; in fact, its inner strength is to be sought precisely in the fact that it is not a sudden blaze, but a gradual yet solid and continuous growth, contrasting with an industrial development which can be blown up in the course of a few years, but in that case is more like a soap bubble than solid strength. A fleet, to be sure, can be built more quickly than farms can be established in stubborn struggle and settled with peasants, but it is also more rapidly destroyed than the latter.
If, nevertheless, Germany took this road, she should at least have clearly recognized that this development would some day likewise end in struggle. Only children could have thought that they could get their bananas in the 'peaceful contest of nations,' by friendly and moral conduct and constant emphasis on their peaceful intentions, as they so high-soundingly and unctuously babbled; in other words, without ever having to take up arms. No: if we chose this road, England would some day inevitably become our enemy. It was more than senseless-but quite in keeping with our own innocence-to wax indignant over the fact that England should one day take the liberty to oppose our peaceful activity with the brutality of a violent egoist.
It is true that we, I am sorry to say, would never have done such a thing.
If a European territorial policy was only possible against Russian alliance with England, conversely, a policy of colonies and world trade was conceivable only against England and with Russia. But then we had dauntlessly to draw the consequences- and, above all, abandon Austria in all haste.
Viewed from all angles, this alliance with Austria was real madness by the turn of the century.
But we did not think of concluding an alliance with Russia against England, any more than with England against Russia, for in both cases the end would have been war, and to prevent this we decided in favor of a policy of commerce and industry. In the 'peaceful economic ' conquest of the world we possessed a recipe which was expected to break the neck of the former policy of violence once and for all. Occasionally, perhaps, we were not quite sure of ourselves, particularly when from time to time incomprehensible threats came over from England; therefore, we decided to build a fleet, though not to attack and destroy England, but for the 'defense' of our old friend 'world peace' and 'peaceful ' conquest of the world. Consequently, it was kept on a somewhat more modest scale in all respects, not only in number but also in the tonnage of the individual ships as well as in armament, so as in the final analysis to let our 'peaceful' intentions shine through after all.
The talk about the 'peaceful economic' conquest of the world was possibly the greatest nonsense which has ever been exalted to be a guiding principle of state policy. What made this nonsense even worse was that its proponents did not hesitate to call upon England as a crown witness for the possibility of such an achievement. The crimes of our academic doctrine and conception of history in this connection can scarcely be made good and are only a striking proof of how many people there are who 'learn' history without understanding or even comprehending it. England, in particular, should have been recognized as the striking refutation of this theory; for no people has ever with greater brutality better prepared its economic conquests with the sword, and later ruthlessly defended them than the English nation. Is it not positively the distinguishing feature of British statesmanship to draw economic acquisitions from political strength, and at once to recast every gain in economic strength into political power? And what an error to believe that England is personally too much of a coward to stake her own blood for her economic policy! The fact that the English people possessed no 'people's army' in no way proved the contrary; for what matters is not the momentary military form of the fighting forces, but rather the will and determination to risk those which do exist. England has always possessed whatever armament she happened to need. She always fought with the weapons which success demanded. She fought with mercenaries as long as mercenaries sufficed; but she reached down into the precious blood of the whole nation when only such a sacrifice could bring victory; but the determination for victory, the tenacity and ruthless pursuit of this struggle, remained unchanged.
In Germany, however, the school, the press, and comic magazines cultivated a conception of the Englishman's character, and almost more so of his empire, which inevitably led to one of the most insidious delusions; for gradually everyone was infected by this nonsense, and the consequence was an underestimation for which we would have to pay most bitterly. This falsification went so deep that people became convinced that in the Englishman they faced a business man as shrewd as personally he was unbelievably cowardly. The fact that a world empire the size of the British could not be put together by mere subterfuge and swindling was unfortunately something that never even occurred to our exalted professors of academic science. The few who raised a voice of warning were ignored or killed by silence. I remember well my comrades' looks of astonishment when we faced the Tommies in person in Flanders. After the very first days of battle the conviction dawned on each and every one of them that these Scotsmen did not exactly jibe with the pictures they had seen fit to give us in the comic magazines and press dispatches.
It was then that I began my first reflections about the importance of the form of propaganda.
This falsification, however, did have one good side for those who spread it: by this example, even though it was incorrect, they were able to demonstrate the correctness of the economic conquest of the world. If the Englishman had succeeded, we too were bound to succeed, and our definitely greater honesty, the absence in us of that specifically English 'perfidy,' was regarded as a very special plus. For it was hoped that this would enable us to win the affection, particularly of the smaller nations, and the confidence of the large ones the more easily.
It did not occur to us that our honesty was a profound horror to the others, if for no other reason because we ourselves believed all these things seriously while the rest of the world regarded such behavior as the expression of a special slyness and disingenuousness, until, to their great, infinite amazement, the revolution gave them a deeper insight into the boundless stupidity of our honest convictions.
However, the absurdity of this 'economic conquest' at once made the absurdity of the Triple Alliance clear and comprehensible. For with what other state could we ally ourselves? In alliance with Austria, to be sure, we could not undertake any military conquest, even in Europe alone. Precisely therein consisted the inner weakness of the alliance from the very first day. A Bismarck could permit himself this makeshift, but not by a long shot every bungling successor, least of all at a time when certain essential premises of Bismarck's alliance had long ceased to exist; for Bismarck still believed that in Austria he had to do with a German state. But with the gradual introduction of universal suffrage, this country had sunk to the status of an unGerman hodgepodge with a parliamentary government.
Also from the standpoint of racial policy, the alliance with Austria was simply ruinous. It meant tolerating the growth of a new Slavic power on the borders of the Reich, a power which sooner or later would have to take an entirely different attitude toward Germany than, for example, Russia. And from year to year the alliance itself was bound to grow inwardly hollower and weaker in proportion as the sole supporters of this idea in the monarchy lost influence and were shoved out of the most decisive positions.
By the turn of the century the alliance with Austria had entered the very same stage as Austria's pact with Italy.
Here again there were only two possibilities: either we were in a pact with the Habsburg monarchy or we had to lodge protest against the repression of Germanism. But once a power embarks on this kind of undertaking, it usually ends in open struggle.
Even psychologically the value of the Triple Alliance was small, since the stability of an alliance increases in proportion as the individual contracting parties can hope to achieve definite and tangible expansive aims. And, conversely, it will be the weaker the more it limits itself to the preservation of an existing condition. Here, as everywhere else, strength lies not in defense but in attack.
Even then this was recognized in various quarters, unfortunately not by the so-called 'authorities.' Particularly Ludendorff, then a colonel and officer in the great general staff, pointed to these weaknesses in a memorial written in 1912. Of course, none of the 'statesmen' attached any value or significance to the matter; for clear common sense is expected to manifest itself expediently only in common mortals, but may on principle remain absent where 'diplomats' are concerned.
For Germany it was sheer good fortune that in 1914 the war broke out indirectly through Austria, so that the Habsburgs were forced to take part; for if it had happened the other way around Germany would have been alone. Never would the Habsburg state have been able, let alone willing, to take part in a conflict which would have arisen through Germany. What we later so condemned in Italy would then have happened even earlier with Austria: they would have remained 'neutral' in order at least to save the state from a revolution at the very start. Austrian Slavdom would rather have shattered the monarchy even in 1914 than permit aid to Germany.
How great were the dangers and difficulties entailed by the alliance with the Danubian monarchy, only very few realized at that time.
In the first place, Austria possessed too many enemies who were planning to grab what they could from the rotten state to prevent a certain hatred from arising in the course of time against Germany, in whom they saw the cause of preventing the generally hoped and longed-for collapse of the monarchy. They came to the conviction that Vienna could finally be reached only by a detour through Berlin.
In the second place, Germany thus lost her best and most hopeful possibilities of alliance. They were replaced by an evermounting tension with Russia and even Italy. For in Rome the general mood was just as pro-German as it was anti Austrian, slumbering in the heart of the very last Italian and often brightly flanng up.
Now, since we had thrown ourselves into a policy of commerce and industry, there was no longer the slightest ground for war against Russia either. Only the enemies of both nations could still have an active interest in it. And actually these were primarily the Jews and the Marxists, who, with every means, incited and agitated for war between the two states.
Thirdly and lastly, this alliance inevitably involved an infinite peril for Germany, because a great power actually hostile to Bismarck's Reich could at any time easily succeed in mobilizing a whole series of states against Germany, since it was in a position to promise each of them enrichment at the expense of our Austrian ally.
The whole East of Europe could be stirred up against the Danubian monarchy-particularly Russia and Italy. Never would the world coalition which had been forming since the initiating efforts of King Edward have come into existence if Austria as Germany's ally had not represented too tempting a legacy. This alone made it possible to bring states with otherwise so heterogeneous desires and aims into a single offensive front. Each one could hope that in case of a general action against Germany it, too, would achieve enrichment at Austria's expense. The danger was enormously increased by the fact that Turkey seemed to be a silent partner in this unfortunate alliance.
International Jewish world finance needed these lures to enable it to carry out its long-desired plan for destroying the Germany which thus far did not submit to its widespread superstate control of finance and economics. Only in this way could they forge a coalition made strong and courageous by the sheer numbers of the gigantic armies now on the march and prepared to attack the horny Siegfried at last.
The alliance with the Habsburg monarchy, which even in Austria had filled me with dissatisfaction, now became the source of long inner trials which in the time to come reinforced me even more in the opinion I had already conceived.
Even then, among those few people whom I frequented I made no secret of my conviction that our catastrophic alliance with a state on the brink of ruin would also lead to a fatal collapse of Germany unless we knew enough to release ourselves from it on time. This conviction of mine was firm as a rock, and I did not falter ill it for one moment when at last the storm of the World War seemed to have excluded all reasonable thought and a frenzy of enthusiasm had seized even those quarters for which there should have been only the coldest consideration of reality. And while I myself was at the front, I put forwards whenever these problems were discussed, my opinion that the alliance had to be broken off, the quicker the better for the German nation, and that the sacrifice of the Habsburg monarchy would be no sacrifice at all to make if Germany thereby could achieve a restriction of her adversaries; for it was not for the preservation of a debauched dynasty that the millions had donned the steel helmet, but for the salvation of the German nation.
On a few occasions before the War it seemed as though, in one camp at least, a gentle doubt was arising as to the correctness of the alliance policy that had been chosen. German conservative circles began from time to time to warn against excessive confidence, but, like everything else that was sensible, this was thrown to the winds. They were convinced that they were on the path to a world ' conquest,' whose success would be tremendous and which would entail practically no sacrifices.
There was nothing for those not in authority to do but to watch in silence why and how the ' authorities' marched straight to destruction, drawing the dear people behind them like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
The deeper cause that made it possible to represent the absurdity of an ' economic conquest ' as a practical political method, and the preservation of 'world peace' as a political goal for a whole people, and even to make these things intelligible, lay in the general sickening of our whole political thinking.
With the victorious march of German technology and industry, the rising successes of German commerce, the realization was increasingly lost that all this was only possible on the basis of a strong state. On the contrary, many circles went so far as to put forward the conviction that the state owed its very existence to these phenomena, that the state itself Primarily represented an economic institution, that it could be governed according to economic requirements, and that its very existence depended on economics, a state of affairs which was regarded and glorified as by far the healthiest and most natural.
But the state has nothing at all to do with any definite economic conception or development.
It is not a collection of economic contracting parties in a definite delimited living space for the fulfillment of economic tasks, but the organization of a community of physically and psychologically similar living beings for the better facilitation of the maintenance of their species and the achievement of the aim which has been allotted to this species by Providence. This and nothing else is the aim and meaning of a state. Economics is only one of the many instruments required for the achievement of this aim. It is never the cause or the aim of a state unless this state is based on a false, because unnatural, foundation to begin with. Only in this way can it be explained that the state as such does not necessarily presuppose territorial limitation. This will be necessary only among the peoples who want to secure the maintenance of their national comrades by their own resources; in other words, are prepared to fight the struggle for existence by their own labor. Peoples who can sneak their way into the rest of mankind like drones, to make other men work for them under all sorts of pretexts, can form states even without any definitely delimited living space of their own. This applies first and foremost to a people under whose parasitism the whole of honest humanity is suffering, today more than ever: the Jews.
The Jewish state was never spatially limited in itself, but universally unlimited as to space, though restricted in the sense of embracing but one race. Consequently, this people has always formed a state within states. It is one of the most ingenious tricks that was ever devised, to make this state sail under the flag of 'religion,' thus assuring it of the tolerance which the Aryan is always ready to accord a religious creed. For actually the Mosaic religion is nothing other than a doctrine for the preservation of the Jewish race. It therefore embraces almost all sociological, political, and economic fields of knowledge which can have any bearing on this function.
The urge to preserve the species is the first cause for the formation of human communities; thus the state is a national organism and not an economic organization. A difference which is just as large as it is incomprehensible, particularly to our so-called 'statesmen' of today. That is why they think they can build up the state through economics while in reality it results and always will result solely from the action of those qualities which lie in line with the will to preserve the species and race. And these are always heroic virtues and never the egoism of shopkeepers, since the preservation of the existence of a species presupposes a spirit of sacrifice in the individual. The sense of the poet's words, 'If you will not stake your life, you will win no life,' is that the sacrifice of personal existence is necessary to secure the preservation of the species. Thus, the most sensible prerequisite for the formation and preservation of a state is the presence of a certain feeling of cohesion based on similarity of nature and species, and a willingness to stake everything on it with all possible means, something which in peoples with soil of their own will create heroic virtues, but in parasites will create lying hypocrisy and malignant cruelty, or else these qualities must already be present as the necessary and demonstrable basis for their existence as a state so different in form. The formation of a state, originally at least, will occur through the exercise of these qualities, and in the subsequent struggle for self-preservation those nations will be defeated- that is, will fall a prey to subjugation and thus sooner or later die out which in the mutual struggle possess the smallest share of heroic virtues, or are not equal to the lies and trickery of the hostile parasite. But in this case, too, this must almost always be attributed less to a lack of astuteness than to a lack of determination and courage, which only tries to conceal itself beneath a cloak of humane convictions.
How little the state-forming and state-preserving qualities are connected with economics is most clearly shown by the fact that the inner strength of a state only in the rarest cases coincides with so-called economic prosperity, but that the latter, in innumerable cases, seems to indicate the state's approaching decline. If the formation of human societies were primarily attributable to economic forces or even impulses, the highest economic development would have to mean the greatest strength of the state and not the opposite.
Belief in the state-forming and state-preserving power of economics seems especially incomprehensible when it obtains in a country which in all things clearly and penetratingly shows the historic reverse. Prussia, in particular, demonstrates with marvelous sharpness that not material qualities but ideal virtues alone make possible the formation of a state. Only under their protection can economic life flourish, until with the collapse of the pure state-forming faculties the economy collapses too; a process which we can observe in so terrible and tragic a form right now. The material interests of man can always thrive best as long as they remain in the shadow of heroic virtues; but as soon as they attempt to enter the primary sphere of existence, they destroy the basis for their own existence.
Always when in Germany there was an upsurge of political power, the economic conditions began to improve; but always when economics became the sole content of our people's life, stifling the ideal virtues, the state collapsed and in a short time drew economic life along with it.
If, however, we consider the question, what, in reality, are the state-forming or even state-preserving forces, we can sum them up under one single head: the ability and will of the individual to sacrifice himself for the totality. That these virtues have nothing at all to do with economics can be seen from the simple realization that man never sacrifices himself for the latter, or, in other words: a man does not die for business, but only for ideals. Nothing proved the Englishman's superior psychological knowledge of the popular soul better than the motivation which he gave to his struggle. While we fought for bread, England fought for 'freedom'; and not even for her own, no, for that of the small nations. In our country we laughed at this effrontery, or were enraged at it, and thus only demonstrated how empty-headed and stupid the so-called statesmen of Germany had become even before the War. We no longer had the slightest idea concerning the essence of the force which can lead men to their death of their own freewill and decision.
In 1914 as long as the German people thought they were fighting for ideals, they stood firm; but as soon as they were told to fight for their daily bread, they preferred to give up the game.
And our brilliant 'statesmen' were astonished at this change in attitude. It never became clear to them that from the moment when a man begins to fight for an economic interest, he avoids death as much as possible, since death would forever deprive him of his reward for fighting. Anxiety for the rescue of her own child makes a heroine of even the feeblest mother, and only the struggle for the preservation of the species and the hearth, or the state that protects it, has at all times driven men against the spears of their enemies.
The following theorem may be established as an eternally valid truth:
Never yet has a state been founded by peaceful economic means, but always and exclusively by the instincts of preservation of the species regardless whether these are found in the province of heroic virtue or of cunning craftiness; the one results in Aryan states based on work and culture, the other in Jewish colonies of parasites. As soon as economics as such begins to choke out these Instincts in a people or in a state, it becomes the seductive cause of subjugation and oppression.
The belief of pre-war days that the world could be peacefully opened up to, let alone conquered for, the German people by a commercial and colonial policy was a classic sign of the loss of real state-forming and state-preserving virtues and of all the insight, will power, and active determination which follow from them; the penalty for this, inevitable as the law of nature, was the World War with its consequences.
For those who do not look more deeply into the matter, this attitude of the German nation-for it was really as good as general-could only represent an insoluble riddle: for was not Germany above all other countries a marvelous example of an empire which had risen from foundations of pure political power? Prussia, the germ-cell of the Empire, came into being through resplendent heroism and not through financial operations or commercial deals, and the Reich itself in turn was only the glorious reward of aggressive political leadership and the death defying courage of its soldiers. How could this very German people have succumbed to such a sickening of its political instinct? For here we face, not an isolated phenomenon, but forces of decay which in truly terrifying number soon began to flare up like will-o'-the-wisps, brushing up and down the body politic, or eating like poisonous abscesses into the nation, now here and now there. It seemed as though a continuous stream of poison was being driven into the outermost blood-vessels of this once heroic body by a mysterious power, and was inducing progressively greater paralysis of sound reason and the simple instinct of self preservation .
As innumerable times I passed in review all these questions, arising through my position on the German alliance policy and the economic policy of the Reich in the years 1912 to 1914-the only remaining solution to the riddle became to an ever-increasing degree that power which, from an entirely different viewpoint, I had come to know earlier in Vienna: the Marxist doctrine and philosophy, and their organizational results.
For the second time I dug into this doctrine of destruction-this time no longer led by the impressions and effects of my daily associations, but directed by the observation of general processes of political life. I again immersed myself in the theoretical literature of this new world, attempting to achieve clarity concerning its possible effects, and then compared it with the actual phenomena and events it brings about in political, cultural, and economic life.
Now for the first time I turned my attention to the attempts to master this world plague.
I studied Bismarck's Socialist legislation in its intention struggle, and success. Gradually I obtained a positively granite foundation for my own conviction, so that since that time I have never been forced to undertake a shift in my own inner view on this question. Likewise the relation of Marxism to the Jews was submitted to further thorough examination.
Though previously in Vienna, Germany above all had seemed to me an unshakable colossus, now anxious misgivings sometimes entered my mind. In silent solitude and in the small circles of my acquaintance, I was filled with wrath at German foreign policy and likewise with what seemed to me the incredibly frivolous way in which the most important problem then existing for Germany, Marxism, was treated. It was really beyond me how people could rush so blindly into a danger whose effects, pursuant to the Marxists' own intention, were bound some day to be monstrous. Even then, among my acquaintance, just as today on a large scale, I warned against the phrase with which all wretched cowards comfort themselves: 'Nothing can happen to us!' This pestilential attitude had once been the downfall of a gigantic empire. Could anyone believe that Germany alone was not subject to exactly the same laws as all other human organisms?
In the years 1913 and 1914, I, for the first time in various circles which today in part faithfully support the National Socialist movement, expressed the conviction that the question of the future of the German nation was the question of destroying Marxism.
In the catastrophic German alliance policy I saw only one of the consequences called forth by the disruptive work of this doctrine; for the terrible part of it was that this poison almost invisibly destroyed all the foundations of a healthy conception of economy and state, and that often those affected by it did not themselves realize to what an extent their activities and desires emanated from this philosophy which they otherwise sharply ejected.
The internal decline of the German nation had long since begun, yet, as so often in life, people had not achieved clarity concerning the force that was destroying their existence. Sometimes they tinkered around with the disease, but confused the forms of the phenomenon with the virus that had caused it. Since they did not know or want to know the cause, the struggle against Malsisrs was no better than bungling quackery.
Volume One: A Reckoning
Chapter V: The World War
As A YOUNG SCAMP in my wild years, nothing had so grieved me as having been born at a time which obviously erected its Halls of Fame only to shopkeepers and government officials. The waves of historic events seemed to have grown so smooth that the future really seemed to belong only to the 'peaceful contest of nations'; in other words, a cozy mutual swindling match with the exclusion of violent methods of defense. The various nations began to be more and more like private citizens who cut the ground from under one another's feet, stealing each other's customers and orders, trying in every way to get ahead of one another, and staging this whole act amid a hue and cry as loud as it is harmless. This development seemed not only to endure but was expected in time (as was universally recommended) to remodel the whole world into one big department store in whose vestibules the busts of the shrewdest profiteers and the most lamb like administrative officials would be garnered for all eternity. The English could supply the merchants, the Germans the administrative officials, and the Jews no doubt would have to sacrifice themselves to being the owners, since by their own admission they never make any money, but always 'pay,' and, besides, speak the most languages.
Why couldn't I have been born a hundred years earlier? Say at the time of the Wars of Liberation when a man, even without a 'business,' was really worth something?!
Thus I had often indulged in angry thoughts concerning my earthly pilgrimage, which, as it seemed to me, had begun too late, and regarded the period 'of law and order' ahead of me as a mean and undeserved trick of Fate. Even as a boy I was no 'pacifist,' and all attempts to educate me in this direction came to nothing.
The Boer War was like summer lightning to me.
Every day I waited impatiently for the newspapers and devoured dispatches and news reports, happy at the privilege of witnessing this heroic struggle even at a distance.
The Russo-Japanese War found me considerably more mature, but also more attentive. More for national reasons I had already taken sides, and in our little discussions at once sided with the Japanese. In a defeat of the Russians I saw the defeat of Austrian Slavdom.
Since then many years have passed, and what as a boy had seemed to me a lingering disease, I now felt to be the quiet before the storm. As early as my Vienna period, the Balkans were immersed in that livid sultriness which customarily announces the hurricane, and from time to time a beam of brighter light flared up, only to vanish again in the spectral darkness. But then came the Balkan War and with it the first gust of wind swept across a Europe grown nervous. The time which now followed lay on the chests of men like a heavy nightmare, sultry as feverish tropic heat, so that due to constant anxiety the sense of approaching catastrophe turned at last to longing: let Heaven at last give free rein to the fate which could no longer be thwarted. And then the first mighty lightning flash struck the earth; the storm was unleashed and with the thunder of Heaven there mingled the roar of the World War batteries.
When the news of the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand arrived in Munich (I happened to be sitting at home and heard of it only- vaguely),I was at first seized with worry that the bullets may have been shot from the pistols of German students, who, out of indignation at the heir apparent's continuous work of Slavization, wanted to free the German people from this internal enemy. What the consequence of this would have been was easy to imagine: a new wave of persecutions which would now have been 'justified' and 'explained' in the eyes of the whole world. But when, soon afterward, I heard the names of the supposed assassins, and moreover read that they had been identified as Serbs, a light shudder began to run through me at this vengeance of inscrutable Destiny.
The greatest friend of the Slavs had fallen beneath the bullets of Slavic fanatics.
Anyone with constant occasion in the last years to observe the relation of Austria to Serbia could not for a moment be in doubt that a stone had been set rolling whose course could no longer be arrested.
Those who today shower the Viennese government with reproaches on the form and content of the ultimatum it issued, do it an injustice. No other power in the world could have acted differently in the same situation and the same position. At her southeastern border Austria possessed an inexorable and mortal enemy who at shorter and shorter intervals kept challenging the monarchy and would never have left off until the moment favorable for the shattering of the Empire had arrived. There was reason to fear that this would occur at the latest with the death of the old Emperor; by then perhaps the old monarchy would no longer be in a position to offer any serious resistance. In the last few years the state had been so bound up with the person of Francis Joseph that the death of this old embodiment of the Empire was felt by the broad masses to be tantamount to the death of the Empire itself. Indeed, it was one of the craftiest artifices, particularly of the Slavic policy, to create the appearance that the Austrian state no longer owed its existence to anything but the miraculous and unique skill of this monarch; this flattery was all the more welcome in the Hofburg, since it corresponded not at all to the real merits of the Emperor. The thorn hidden in these paeans of praise remained undiscovered The rulers did not see, or perhaps no longer wanted to see, that the more the monarchy depended on the outstanding statecraft, as they put it, of this 'wisest monarch' of all times, the more catastrophic the situation was bound to become if one day Fate were to knock at his door, too, demanding its tribute.
Was old Austria even conceivable without the Emperor?!
Wouldn't the tragedy which had once stricken Maria Theresa have been repeated?
No, it is really doing the Vienna circles an injustice to reproach them with rushing into a war which might otherwise have been avoided. It no longer could be avoided, but at most could have been postponed for one or two years. But this was the curse of German as well as Austrian diplomacy, that it had always striven to postpone the inevitable reckoning, until at length it was forced to strike at the most unfavorable hour. We can be convinced that a further attempt to save peace would have brought war at an even more unfavorable time.
No, those who did not want this war had to have the courage to face the consequences, which could have consisted only in the sacrifice of Austria. Even then the war would have come, but no longer as a struggle of all against ourselves, but in the form of a partition of the Habsburg monarchy. And then they had to make up their minds to join in, or to look on with empty hands and let Fate run its course.
Those very people, however, who today are loudest in cursing the beginning of the war and offer the sagest opinions were those who contributed most fatally to steering us into it.
For decades the Social Democrats had carried on the most scoundrelly war agitation against Russia, and the Center for religious reasons had been most active in making the Austrian state the hinge and pivot of Germany policy. Now we had to suffer the consequences of this lunacy. What came had to come, and could no longer under any circumstances be avoided. The guilt of the German government was that in order to preserve peace it always missed the favorable hours for striking, became entangled in the alliance for the preservation of world peace, and thus finally became the victim of a world coalition which countered the idea of preserving world peace with nothing less than determination for world war.
If the Vienna government had given the ultimatum another milder form, this would have changed nothing in the situation except at most one thing, that this government would itself have been swept away by the indignation of the people. For in the eyes of the broad masses the tone of the ultimatum was far too gentle and by no means too brutal, let alone too far-reaching Anyone who today attempts to argue this away is either a forgetful blockhead or a perfectly conscious swindler and liar.
The struggle of the year 1914 was not forced on the masses-no, by the living God-it was desired by the whole people.
People wanted at length to put an end to the general uncertainty. Only thus can it be understood that more than two million German men and boys thronged to the colors for this hardest of all struggles, prepared to defend the flag with the last drop of their blood.
To me those hours seemed like a release from the painful feelings of my youth. Even today I am not ashamed to say that, overpowered by stormy enthusiasm, I fell down on my knees and thanked Heaven from an overflowing heart for granting me the good fortune of being permitted to live at this time.
A fight for freedom had begun, mightier than the earth had ever seen; for once Destiny had begun its course, the conviction dawned on even the broad masses that this time not the fate of Serbia or Austria was involved, but whether the German nation was to be or not to be.
For the last time in many years the people had a prophetic vision of its own future. Thus, right at the beginning of the gigantic struggle the necessary grave undertone entered into the ecstasy- of an overflowing enthusiasm; for this knowledge alone made the national uprising more than a mere blaze of straw The earnestness was only too necessary; for in those days people in general had not the faintest conception of the possible length and duration of the struggle that was now beginning. They dreamed of being home again that winter to continue and renew their peaceful labors.
What a man wants is what he hopes and believes. The overwhelming majority of the nation had long been weary of the eternally uncertain state of affairs; thus it was only too understandable that they no longer believed in a peaceful conclusion of the Austro-Serbian convict, but hoped for the final settlement.
I, too, was one of these millions.
Hardly had the news of the assassination become known in Munich than at once two thoughts quivered through my brain: first, that at last war would be inevitable; and, furthermore, that now the Habsburg state would be compelled to keep its pact; for what I had always most feared was the possibility that Germany herself would some day, perhaps in consequence of this very alliance, find herself in a conflict not directly caused by Austria, so that the Austrian state for reasons of domestic policy would not muster the force of decision to stand behind her ally. The Slavic majority of the Empire would at once have begun to sabotage any such intention on the part of the state, and would always have preferred to smash the entire state to smithereens than grant its ally the help it demanded. This danger was now eliminated. The old state had to fight whether it wanted to or not.
My own position on the conflict was likewise very simple and clear; for me it was not that Austria was fighting for some Serbian satisfaction, but that Germany was fighting for her existence, the German nation for life or death, freedom and future. The time had come for Bismarck's work to fight; what the fathers had once won in the battles from Weissenburg to Sedan , young Germany now had to earn once more. If the struggle were carried through to victory, our nation would enter the circle of great nations from the standpoint of external power, and only then could the German Reich maintain itself as a mighty haven of peace without having, for the sake of peace, to cut down on the daily bread of her children.
As a boy and young man I had so often felt the desire to prove at least once by deeds that for me national enthusiasm was no empty whim. It often seemed to me almost a sin to shout hurrah perhaps without having the inner right to do so; for who had the right to use this word without having proved it in the place where all playing is at an end and the inexorable hand of the Goddess of Destiny begins to weigh peoples and men according to the truth and steadfastness of their convictions? Thus my heart, like that of a million others, overflowed with proud joy that at last I would be able to redeem myself from this paralyzing feeling. I had so often sung 'Deutschland uber Aloes' and shouted 'Heil ' at the top of my lungs, that it seemed to me almost a belated act of grace to be allowed to stand as a witness in the divine court of the eternal judge and proclaim the sincerity of this conviction. For from the first hour r was convinced that in case of a war- which seemed to me inevitable-in one way or another I would at once leave my books. Likewise I knew that my place would then be where my inner voice directed me.
I had left Austria primarily for political reasons; what was more natural than that, now the struggle had begun, I should really begin to take account of this conviction. I did not want to fight for the Habsburg state, but was ready at any time to die for my people and for the Reich which embodied it.
On the third of August, I submitted a personal petition to His Majesty, lying Ludwig III, with a request for permission to enter a Bavarian regiment. The cabinet office certainly had plenty to do in those days; so much the greater was my joy to receive an answer to my request the very next day. With trembling hands I opened the document; my request had been approved and I was summoned to report to a Bavarian regiment. My joy and gratitude knew no bounds. A few days later I was wearing the tunic which I was not to doff until nearly six years later.
For me, as for every German, there now began the greatest and most unforgettable time of my earthly existence. Compared to the events of this gigantic struggle, everything past receded to shallow nothingness. Precisely in these days, with the tenth anniversary of the mighty event approaching, I think back with proud sadness on those first weeks of our people's heroic struggle, in which Fate graciously allowed me to take part.
As though it were yesterday, image after image passes before my eyes. I see myself donning the uniform in the circle of my dear comrades, turning out for the first time, drilling, etc., until the day came for us to march off.
A single worry tormented me at that time, me, as so many others: would we not reach the front too late? Time and time again this alone banished all my calm. Thus, in every cause for rejoicing at a new, heroic victory, a slight drop of bitterness was hidden, for every new victory seemed to increase the danger of our coming too late.
At last the day came when we left Munich to begin the fulfillment of our duty. For the first time I saw the Rhine as we rode westward along its quiet waters to defend it, the German stream of streams, from the greed of the old enemy. When through the tender veil of the early morning mist the Niederwald Monument gleamed down upon us in the gentle first rays of the sun, the old Watch on the Rhine roared out of the endless transport train into the morning sky, and I felt as though my heart would burst.
And then came a damp, cold night in Flanders, through which we marched in silence, and when the day began to emerge from the mists, suddenly an iron greeting came whizzing at us over our heads, and with a sharp report sent the little pellets flying between our ranks, ripping up the wet ground; but even before the little cloud had passed, from two hundred throats the first hurrah rose to meet the first messenger of death. Then a crackling and a roaring, a singing and a howling began, and with feverish eyes each one of us was drawn forward, faster and faster, until suddenly past turnip fields and hedges the fight began, the fight of man against man. And from the distance the strains of a song reached our ears, coming closer and closer, leaping from company to company, and just as Death plunged a busy hand into our ranks, the song reached us too and we passed it along: 'Deutschland, Deutschland uber Alles, uber Alles in der Welt!'
Four days later we came back. Even our step had changed. Seventeen-year-old boys now looked like men.
The volunteers of the List Regiment may not have learned to fight properly, but they knew how to die like old soldiers
This was the beginning.
Thus it went on year after year; but the romance of battle had been replaced by horror. The enthusiasm gradually cooled and the exuberant joy was stifled by mortal fear. The time came when every man had to struggle between the instinct of self-preservation and the admonitions of duty. I, too, was not spared by this struggle. Always when Death was on the hunt, a vague something tried to revolt, strove to represent itself to the weak body as reason, yet it was only cowardice, which in such disguises tried to ensnare the individual. A grave tugging and warning set in, and often it was only the last remnant of conscience which decided the issue. Yet the more this voice admonished one to caution, the louder and more insistent its lures, the sharper resistance grew until at last, after a long inner struggle, consciousness of duty emerged victorious. By the winter of 1915-16this struggle had for me been decided. At last my will was undisputed master. If in the first days I went over the top with rejoicing and laughter, I was now calm and determined. And this was enduring. Now Fate could bring on the ultimate tests without my nerves shattering or my reason failing.
The young volunteer had become an old soldier.
And this transformation had occurred in the whole army. It had issued old and hard from the eternal battles, and as for those who could not stand up under the storm-well, they were broken.
Now was the time to judge this army. Now, after two or three years, during which it was hurled from one battle into another, forever fighting against superiority in numbers and weapons, suffering hunger and bearing privations, now was the time to test the quality of this unique army.
Thousands of years may pass, but never will it be possible to speak of heroism without mentioning the German army and the World War. Then from the veil of the past the iron front of the gray steel helmet will emerge, unwavering and unflinching, an immortal monument. As long as there are Germans alive, they will remember that these men were sons of their nation.
I was a soldier then, and I didn't want to talk about politics. And really it was not the time for it. Even today I harbor the conviction that the humblest wagon-driver performed more valuable services for the father land than the foremost among, let us say, 'parliamentarians.' I had never hated these big mouths more than now when every red-blooded man with something to say yelled it into the enemy's face or appropriately left his tongue at home and silently did his duty somewhere. Yes, in those days I hated all those politicians. And if it had been up to me, a parliamentary pick-and-shovel battalion would have been formed at once; then they could have chewed the fat to their hearts' content without annoying, let alone harming, honest, decent people.
Thus, at that time I wanted to hear nothing of politics, but I could not help taking a position on certain manifestations which after all did affect the whole nations and particularly concerned us soldiers.
There were two things which then profoundly angered me and which I regarded as harmful.
After the very first news of victories, a certain section of the press, slowly, and in a way which at first was perhaps unrecognizable to many, began to pour a few drops of wormwood into the general enthusiasm. This was done beneath the mask of a certain benevolence and well-meaning, even of a certain solicitude. They had misgivings about an excess of exuberance in the celebration of the victories. They feared that in this form it was unworthy of so great a nation and hence inappropriate. The bravery and heroic courage of the German soldier were something self-evident, they said, and people should not be carried away too much by thoughtless outbursts of joy, if only for the sake of foreign countries to whom a silent and dignified form of joy appealed more than unbridled exultation, etc. Finally, we Germans even now should not forget that the war was none of our intention and therefore we should not be ashamed to confess in an open and manly fashion that at any time we would contribute our part to a reconciliation of mankind. For that reason it would not be prudent to besmirch the purity of our army's deeds by too much shouting, since the rest of the world would have little understanding for such behavior. The world admired nothing more than the modesty with which a true hero silently and calmly forgets his deeds, for this was the gist of the whole argument.
Instead of taking one of these creatures by his long ears, tying him to a long pole and pulling him up on a long cord, thus making it impossible for the cheering nation to insult the aesthetic sentiment of this knight of the inkpot, the authorities actually began to issue remonstrances against' unseemly ' rejoicing over victories.
It didn't occur to them in the least that enthusiasm once scotched cannot be reawakened at need. It is an intoxication and must be preserved in this state. And how, without this power of enthusiasm, should a country withstand a struggle which in all likelihood would make the most enormous demands on the spiritual qualities of the nation?
I knew the psyche of the broad masses too well not to be aware that a high 'aesthetic' tone would not stir up the fire that was necessary to keep the iron hot. In my eyes it was madness on the part of the authorities to be doing nothing to intensify the glowing heat of passion; and when they curtailed what passion was fortunately present, that was absolutely beyond me.
The second thing that angered me was the attitude which they thought fit to take toward Marxism. In my eyes, this only proved that they hadn't so much as the faintest idea concerning this pestilence. In all seriousness they seemed to believe that, by the assurance that parties were no longer recognized, they had brought Marxism to understanding and restraint.
They failed to understand that here no party was involved, but a doctrine that must lead to the destruction of all humanity, especially since this cannot be learned in the Jewified universities and, besides, so many, particularly among our higher officials, due to the idiotic conceit that is cultivated in them, don't think it worth the trouble to pick up a book and learn something which was not in their university curriculum. The most gigantic upheaval passes these 'minds' by without leaving the slightest trace, which is why state institutions for the most part lag behind private ones. It is to them, by God, that the popular proverb best applies: 'What the peasant doesn't know, he won't eat.' Here, too, a few exceptions only confirm the rule.
It was an unequaled absurdity to identify the German worker with Marxism in the days of August, 1914. In those hours the German worker had made himself free from the embrace of this venomous plague, for otherwise he would never have been able to enter the struggle. The authorities, however, were stupid enough to believe that Marxism had now become national; a flash of genius which only shows that in these long years none of these official guides of the state had even taken the trouble to study the essence of this doctrine, for if they had, such an absurdity could scarcely have crept in.
Marxism, whose goal is and remains the destruction of all non-Jewish national states, was forced to look on in horror as, in the July days of 1914, the German working class it had ensnared, awakened and from hour to hour began to enter the service of the fatherland with ever-increasing rapidity. In a few days the whole mist and swindle of this infamous betrayal of the people had scattered away, and suddenly the gang of Jewish leaders stood there lonely and forsaken, as though not a trace remained of the nonsense and madness which for sixty years they had been funneling into the masses. It was a bad moment for the betrayers of the German working class, but as soon as the leaders recognized the danger which menaced them, they rapidly pulled the tarn-cap ' of lies over their ears, and insolently mimicked the national awakening.
But now the time had come to take steps against the whole treacherous brotherhood of they Jewish poisoners of the people. Now was the time to deal with them summarily without the slightest consideration for any screams and complaints that might arise. In August, 1914, the whole Jewish jabber about international solidarity had vanished at one stroke from the heads of the German working class, and in its stead, only a few weeks later, American shrapnel began to pour down the blessings of brotherhood on the helmets of our march columns. It would have been the duty of a serious government, now that the German worker had found his way back to his nation, to exterminate mercilessly the agitators who were misleading the nation.
If the best men were dying at the front, the least we could do was to wipe out the vermin.
Instead of this, His Majesty the Kaiser himself stretched out his hand to the old criminals, thus sparing the treacherous murderers of the nation and giving them a chance to retrieve themselves.
So now the viper could continue his work, more cautiously than before, but all the more dangerously. While the honest ones were dreaming of peace within their borders, the perjuring criminals were organizing the revolution.
That such terrible half-measures should then be decided upon made me more and more dissatisfied at heart; but at that time I would not have thought it possible that the end of it all would be so frightful.
What, then, should have been done? The leaders of the whole movement should at once have been put behind bars, brought to trial, and thus taken off the nation's neck. All the implements of military power should have been ruthlessly used for the extermination of this pestilence. The parties should have been dissolved, the Reichstag brought to its senses, with bayonets if necessary, but, best of all, dissolved at once. Just as the Republic today can dissolve parties, this method should have been used at that time, with more reason. For the life and death of a whole nation was at stake!
One question came to the fore, however: can spiritual ideas be exterminated by the sword? Can 'philosophies' be combated by the use of brute force?
Even at that time I pondered this question more than once: If we ponder analogous cases, particularly on a religious basis, which can be found in history, the following fundamental principle emerges:
Conceptions and ideas, as well as movements with a definite spiritual foundation, regardless whether the latter is false or true, can, after a certain point in their development, only be broken with technical instruments of power if these physical weapons are at the same time the support of a new kindling thought, idea, or philosophy.
The application of force alone, without the impetus of a basic spiritual idea as a starting point, can never lead to the destruction of an idea and its dissemination, except in the form of a complete extermination of even the very last exponent of the idea and the destruction of the last tradition. This, however, usually means the disappearance of such a state from the sphere of political importance, often for an indefinite time and some-times forever; for experience shows that such a blood sacrifice strikes the best part of the people, since every persecution which occurs without a spiritual basis seems morally unjustified and whips up precisely the more valuable parts of a people in protest, which results in an adoption of the spiritual content of the unjustly persecuted movement. In many this occurs simply through a feeling of opposition against the attempt to bludgeon down an idea by brute force.
As a result, the number of inward supporters grows in proportion as the persecution increases. Consequently, the complete annihilation of the new doctrine can be carried out only through a process of extermination so great and constantly increasing that in the end all the truly valuable blood is drawn out of the people or state in question. The consequence is that, though a so-called 'inner' purge can now take place, it will only be at the cost of total impotence. Such a method will always prove vain in advance if the doctrine to be combated has overstepped a certain small circle.
Consequently, here, too, as in all growth, the first period of childhood is most readily susceptible to the possibility of extermination, while with the mounting years the power of resistance increases and only with the weakness of approaching old age cedes again to new youth, though in another form and for different reasons.
Indeed, nearly all attempts to exterminate a doctrine and its organizational expression, by force without spiritual foundation, are doomed to failure, and often end with the exact opposite of the desired result for the following reason:
The very first requirement for a mode of struggle with the weapons of naked force is and remains persistence. In other words: only the continuous and steady application of the methods for repressing a doctrine, etc., makes it possible for a plan to succeed. But as soon as force wavers and alternates with forbearance, not only will the doctrine to be repressed recover again and again, but it will also be in a position to draw new benefit from every persecution, since, after such a wave of pressure has ebbed away, indignation over the suffering induced leads new supporters to the old doctrine, while the old ones will cling to it with greater defiance and deeper hatred than before, and even schismatic heretics, once the danger has subsided, will attempt to return to their old viewpoint. Only in the steady and constant application of force lies the very first prerequisite for success.
This persistence, however, can always and only arise from a definite spiritual conviction. Any violence which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain. It lacks the stability which can only rest in a fanatical outlook. It emanates from the momentary energy and brutal determination of an individual, and is therefore subject to the change of personalities and to their nature and strength.
Added to this there is something else:
Any philosophy, whether of a religious or political nature-and sometimes the dividing line is hard to determine-fights less for the negative destruction of the opposing ideology than for the positive promotion of its own. Hence its struggle is less defensive than offensive. It therefore has the advantage even in determining the goal, since this goal represents the victory of its own idea, while, conversely, it is hard to determine when the negative aim of the destruction of a hostile doctrine may be regarded as achieved and assured. For this reason alone, the philosophy's offensive will be more systematic and also more powerful than the defensive against a philosophy, since here, too, as always, the attack and not the defense makes the decision. The fight against a spiritual power with methods of violence remains defensive, however, until the sword becomes the support, the herald and disseminator, of a new spiritual doctrine.
Thus, in summing up, we can establish the following:
Any attempt to combat a philosophy with methods of violence will fail in the end, unless the fight takes the form of attack for a new spiritual attitude. Only in the struggle between two philosophies can the weapon of brutal force, persistently and ruthlessly applied lead to a decision for the side it supports.
This remained the reason for the failure of the struggle against Marxism.
This was why Bismarck's Socialist legislation finally failed and had to fail, in spite of everything. Lacking was the platform of a new philosophy for whose rise the fight could have been waged. For only the proverbial wisdom of high government officials will succeed in believing that drivel about so-called 'state authority' or 'law and order' could form a suitable basis for the spiritual impetus of a life-and-death struggle.
Since a real spiritual basis for this struggle was lacking, Bismarck had to entrust the execution of his Socialist legislation to the judgment and desires of that institution which itself was a product of Marxist thinking. By entrusting the fate of his war on the Marxists to the well-wishing of bourgeois democracy, the Iron Chancellor set the wolf to mind the sheep.
All this was only the necessary consequence of the absence of a basic new anti-Marxist philosophy endowed with a stormy will to conquer.
Hence the sole result of Bismarck's struggle was a grave disillusionment.
Were conditions different during the World War or at its beginning? Unfortunately not.
The more I occupied myself with the idea of a necessary change in the government's attitude toward Social Democracy as the momentary embodiment of Marxism, the more I recognized the lack of a serviceable substitute for this doctrine. What would be given the masses if, just supposing, Social Democracy had been broken? There was not one movement in existence which could have been expected to succeed in drawing into its sphere of influence the great multitudes of workers grown more or less leaderless. It is senseless and more than stupid to believe that the international fanatic who had left the class party would now at once join a bourgeois party, in other words, a new class organization. For, unpleasant as it may seem to various organizations, it cannot be denied that bourgeois politicians largely take class division quite for granted as long as it does not begin to work out to their political disadvantage.
The denial of this fact only proves the effrontery, and also the stupidity, of the liars.
Altogether, care should be taken not to regard the masses as stupider than they are. In political matters feeling often decides more correctly than reason. The opinion that the stupid international attitude of the masses is sufficient proof of the unsoundness of the masses' sentiments can be thoroughly confuted by the simple reminder that pacifist democracy is no less insane, and that its exponents originate almost exclusively in the bourgeois camp. As long as millions of the bourgeoisie still piously worship their Jewish democratic press every morning, it very ill becomes these gentlemen to make jokes about the stupidity of the 'comrade' who, in the last analysis, only swallows down the same garbage, though in a different form. In both cases the manufacturer is one and the same Jew.
Good care should be taken not to deny things that just happen to be true. The fact that the class question is by no means exclusively a matter of ideal problems, as, particularly before the elections, some people would like to pretend, cannot be denied. The class arrogance of a large part of our people, and to an even greater extent, the underestimation of the manual worker, are phenomena which do not exist only in the imagination of the moonstruck.
Quite aside from this, however, it shows the small capacity for thought of our so-called 'intelligentsia' when, particularly in these circles, it is not understood that a state of affairs which could not prevent the growth of a plague, such as Marxism happens to be, will certainly not be able to recover what has been lost.
The 'bourgeois' parties, as they designate themselves, will never be able to attach the 'proletarian' masses to their camp, for here two worlds oppose each other, in part naturally and in part artificially divided, whose mutual relation can only be struggle. The younger will be victorious-and this is Marxism.
Indeed, a struggle against Social Democracy in the year 1914 was conceivable, but how long this condition would be maintained, in view of the absence of any substitute, remained doubtful.
Here there was a great gap.
I was of this opinion long before the War, and for this reason could not make up my mind to join one of the existing parties. In the course of events of the World War, I was reinforced in this opinion by the obvious impossibility of taking up a ruthless struggle against Social Democracy, owing to this very lack of a movement which would have had to be more than a 'parliamentary' party.
With my closer comrades I often expressed myself openly on this point.
And now the first ideas came to me of later engaging in political activity.
Precisely this was what caused me often to assure the small circle of my friends that after the War, I meant to be a speaker in addition to my profession.
I believe that I was very serious about this.
Volume One: A Reckoning
Chapter VI: War Propaganda
EVER since I have been scrutinizing political events, I have taken a tremendous interest in propagandist activity. I saw that the Socialist-Marxist organizations mastered and applied this instrument with astounding skill. And I soon realized that the correct use of propaganda is a true art which has remained practically unknown to the bourgeois parties. Only the Christian-Social movement, especially in Lueger's time, achieved a certain virtuosity on this instrument, to which it owed many of its successes.
But it was not until the War that it became evident what immense results could be obtained by a correct application of propaganda. Here again, unfortunately, all our studying had to be done on the enemy side, for the activity on our side was modest, to say the least. The total miscarriage of the German 'enlightenment ' service stared every soldier in the face, and this spurred me to take up the question of propaganda even more deeply than before.
There was often more than enough time for thinking, and the enemy offered practical instruction which, to our sorrow, was only too good.
For what we failed to do, the enemy did, with amazing skill and really brilliant calculation. I, myself, learned enormously from this enemy war propaganda. But time passed and left no trace in the minds of all those who should have benefited; partly because they considered themselves too clever to learn from the enemy, partly owing to lack of good will.
Did we have anything you could call propaganda?
I regret that I must answer in the negative. Everything that actually was done in this field was so inadequate and wrong
from the very start that it certainly did no good and sometimes did actual harm.
The form was inadequate, the substance was psychologically wrong: a careful examination of German war propaganda can lead to no other diagnosis.
There seems to have been no clarity on the very first question: Is propaganda a means or an end?
It is a means and must therefore be judged with regard to its end. It must consequently take a form calculated to support the aim which it serves. It is also obvious that its aim can vary in importance from the standpoint of general need, and that the inner value of the propaganda will vary accordingly. The aim for which we were fighting the War was the loftiest, the most overpowering, that man can conceive: it was the freedom and independence of our nation, the security of our future food supply, and-our national honor; a thing which, despite all contrary opinions prevailing today, nevertheless exists, or rather should exist, since peoples without honor have sooner or later lost their freedom and independence, which in turn is only the result of a higher justice, since generations of rabble without honor deserve no freedom. Any man who wants to be a cowardly slave can have no honor)or honor itself would soon fall into general contempt.
The German nation was engaged in a struggle for a human existence, and the purpose of war propaganda should have been to support this struggle; its aim to help bring about victory.
When the nations on this planet fight for existence-when the question of destiny, 'to be or not to be,' cries out for a solution-then all considerations of humanitarianism or aesthetics crumble into nothingness; for all these concepts do not float about in the ether, they arise from man's imagination and are bound up with man. When he departs from this world, these concepts are again dissolved into nothingness, for Nature does not know them. And even among mankind, they belong only to a few nations or rather races, and this in proportion as they emanate from the feeling of the nation or race in question. Humanitarianism and aesthetics would vanish even from a world inhabited by man if this world were to lose the races that have created and upheld these concepts.
But all such concepts become secondary when a nation is fighting for its existence; in fact, they become totally irrelevant to the forms of the struggle as soon as a situation arises where they might paralyze a struggling nation's power of self-preservation. And that has always been their only visible result.
As for humanitarianism, Moltke said years ago that in war it lies in the brevity of the operation, and that means that the most aggressive fighting technique is the most humane.
But when people try to approach these questions with drivel about aesthetics, etc., really only one answer is possible: where the destiny and existence of a people are at stake, all obligation toward beauty ceases. The most unbeautiful thing there can be in human life is and remains the yoke of slavery. Or do these Schwabing decadents view the present lot of the German people as 'aesthetic'? Certainly we don't have to discuss these matters with the Jews, the most modern inventors of this cultural perfume. Their whole existence is an embodied protest against the aesthetics of the Lord's image.
And since these criteria of humanitarianism and beauty must be eliminated from the struggle, they are also inapplicable to propaganda.
Propaganda in the War was a means to an end, and the end was the struggle for the existence of the German people; consequently, propaganda could only be considered in accordance with the principles that were valid for this struggle. In this case the most cruel weapons were humane if they brought about a quicker victory; and only those methods were beautiful which helped the nation to safeguard the dignity of its freedom.
This was the only possible attitude toward war propaganda in a life-and-death struggle like ours.
If the so-called responsible authorities had been clear on this point, they would never have fallen into such uncertainty over the form and application of this weapon: for even propaganda is no more than a weapon, though a frightful one in the hand of an expert.
The second really decisive question was this: To whom should propaganda be addressed? To the scientifically trained intelligentsia or to the less educated masses?
It must be addressed always and exclusively to the masses.
What the intelligentsia-or those who today unfortunately often go by that name-what they need is not propaganda but scientific instruction. The content of propaganda is not science any more than the object represented in a poster is art. The art of the poster lies in the designer's ability to attract the attention of the crowd by form and color. A poster advertising an art exhibit must direct the attention of the public to the art being exhibited; the better it succeeds in this, the greater is the art of the poster itself. The poster should give the masses an idea of the significance of the exhibition, it should not be a substitute for the art on display. Anyone who wants to concern himself with the art itself must do more than study the poster; and it will not be enough for him just to saunter through the exhibition. We may expect him to examine and immerse himself in the individual works, and thus little by little form a fair opinion.
A similar situation prevails with what we today call propaganda.
The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but in calling the masses' attention to certain facts, processes, necessities, etc., whose significance is thus for the first time placed within their field of vision.
The whole art consists in doing this so skillfully that everyone will be convinced that the fact is real, the process necessary, the necessity correct, etc. But since propaganda is not and cannot be the necessity in itself, since its function, like the poster, consists in attracting the attention of the crowd, and not in educating those who are already educated or who are striving after education and knowledge, its effect for the most part must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect.
All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be. But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be exerted in this direction.
The more modest its intellectual ballast, the more exclusively it takes into consideration the emotions of the masses, the more effective it will be. And this is the best proof of the soundness or unsoundness of a propaganda campaign, and not success in pleasing a few scholars or young aesthetes.
The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses. The fact that our bright boys do not understand this merely shows how mentally lazy and conceited they are.
Once we understand how necessary it is for propaganda to be adjusted to the broad mass, the following rule results:
The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out.
Thus we see that propaganda must follow a simple line and correspondingly the basic tactics must be psychologically sound.
For instance, it was absolutely wrong to make the enemy ridiculous, as the Austrian and German comic papers did. It was absolutely wrong because actual contact with an enemy soldier was bound to arouse an entirely different conviction, and the results were devastating; for now the German soldier, under the direct impression of the enemy's resistance, felt himself swindled by his propaganda service. His desire to fight, or even to stand firm, was not strengthened, but the opposite occurred. His courage flagged.
By contrast, the war propaganda of the English and Americans was psychologically sound. By representing the Germans to their own people as barbarians and Huns, they prepared the individual soldier for the terrors of war, and thus helped to preserve him from disappointments. After this, the most terrible weapon that was used against him seemed only to confirm what his propagandists had told him; it likewise reinforced his faith in the truth of his government's assertions, while on the other hand it increased his rage and hatred against the vile enemy. For the cruel effects of the weapon, whose use by the enemy he now came to know, gradually came to confirm for him the 'Hunnish' brutality of the barbarous enemy, which he had heard all about; and it never dawned on him for a moment that his own weapons possibly, if not probably, might be even more terrible in their effects.
And so the English soldier could never feel that he had been misinformed by his own countrymen, as unhappily was so much the case with the German soldier that in the end he rejected everything coming from this source as 'swindles' and 'bunk.' All this resulted from the idea that any old simpleton (or even somebody who was intelligent ' in other things ') could be assigned to propaganda work, and the failure to realize that the most brilliant psychologists would have been none too good.
And so the German war propaganda offered an unparalleled example of an 'enlightenment' service working in reverse, since any correct psychology was totally lacking.
There was no end to what could be learned from the enemy by a man who kept his eyes open, refused to let his perceptions be ossified, and for four and a half years privately turned the storm flood of enemy propaganda over in his brain.
What our authorities least of all understood was the very first axiom of all propagandist activity: to wit, the basically subjective and one-sided attitude it must take toward every question it deals with. In this connection, from the very beginning of the War and from top to bottom, such sins were committed that we were entitled to doubt whether so much absurdity could really be attributed to pure stupidity alone.
What, for example, would we say about a poster that was supposed to advertise a new soap and that described other soaps as 'good'?
We would only shake our heads.
Exactly the same applies to political advertising.
The function of propaganda is, for example, not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but exclusively to emphasize the one right which it has set out to argue for. Its task is not to make an objective study of the truth, in so far as it favors the enemy, and then set it before the masses with academic fairness; its task is to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly.
It was absolutely wrong to discuss war-guilt from the standpoint that Germany alone could not be held responsible for the outbreak of the catastrophe; it would have been correct to load every bit of the blame on the shoulders of the enemy, even if this had not really corresponded to the true facts, as it actually did.
And what was the consequence of this half-heartedness?
The broad mass of a nation does not consist of diplomats, or even professors of political law, or even individuals capable of forming a rational opinion; it consists of plain mortals, wavering and inclined to doubt and uncertainty. As soon as our own propaganda admits so much as a glimmer of right on the other side, the foundation for doubt in our own right has been laid. The masses are then in no position to distinguish where foreign injustice ends and our own begins. In such a case they become uncertain and suspicious, especially if the enemy refrains from going in for the same nonsense, but unloads every bit of blame on his adversary. Isn't it perfectly understandable that the whole country ends up by lending more credence to enemy propaganda, which is more unified and coherent, than to its own? And particularly a people that suffers from the mania of objectivity as much as the Germans. For, after all this, everyone will take the greatest pains to avoid doing the enemy any injustice, even at the peril of seriously besmirching and even destroying his own people and country.
Of course, this was not the intent of the responsible authorities, but the people never realize that.
The people in their overwhelming majority are so feminine by nature and attitude that sober reasoning determines their thoughts and actions far less than emotion and feeling. And this sentiment is not complicated, but very simple and all of a piece. It does not have multiple shadings; it has a positive and a negative; love or hate, right or wrong, truth or lie never half this way and half that way, never partially, or that kind of thing.
English propagandists understood all this most brilliantly-and acted accordingly. They made no half statements that might have given rise to doubts.
Their brilliant knowledge of the primitive sentiments of the broad masses is shown by their atrocity propaganda, which was adapted to this condition. As ruthless as it was brilliant, it created the preconditions for moral steadfastness at the front, even in the face of the greatest actualde feats, and just as strikingly it pilloried the German enemy as the sole guilty party for the outbreak of the War: the rabid, impudent bias and persistence with which this lie was expressed took into account the emotional, always extreme, attitude of the great masses and for this reason was believed.
How effective this type of propaganda was is most strikingly shown by the fact that after four years of war it not only enabled the enemy to stick to its guns, but even began to nibble at our own people.
It need not surprise us that our propaganda did not enjoy this success. In its inner ambiguity alone, it bore the germ of ineffectualness. And finally its content was such that it was very unlikely to make the necessary impression on the masses. Only our feather-brained 'statesmen' could have dared to hope that this insipid pacifistic bilge could fire men's spirits till they were willing to die.
As a result, their miserable stuff was useless, even harmful in fact.
But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.
Particularly in the field of propaganda, we must never let ourselves be led by aesthetes or people who have grown blase: not by the former, because the form and expression of our propaganda would soon, instead of being suitable for the masses, have drawing power only for literary teas; and of the second we must beware, because, lacking in any fresh emotion of their own, they are always on the lookout for new stimulation. These people are quick to weary of everything; they want variety, and they are never able to feel or understand the needs of their fellow men who are not yet so callous. They are always the first to criticize a propaganda campaign, or rather its content, which seems to them too old-fashioned, too hackneyed, too out-of-date, etc. They are always after novelty, in search of a change, and this makes them mortal enemies of any effective political propaganda. For as soon as the organization and the content of propaganda begin to suit their tastes, it loses all cohesion and evaporates completely.
The purpose of propaganda is not to provide interesting distraction for blase young gentlemen, but to convince, and what I mean is to convince the masses. But the masses are slow moving, and they always require a certain time before they are ready even to notice a thing, and only after the simplest ideas are repeated thousands of times will the masses finally remember them.
When there is a change, it must not alter the content of what the propaganda is driving at, but in the end must always say the same thing. For instance, a slogan must be presented from different angles, but the end of all remarks must always and immutably be the slogan itself. Only in this way can the propaganda have a unified and complete effect.
This broadness of outline from which we must never depart, in combination with steady, consistent emphasis, allows our final success to mature. And then, to our amazement, we shall see what tremendous results such perseverance leads to-to results that are almost beyond our understanding.
All advertising, whether in the field of business or politics, achieves success through the continuity and sustained uniformity of its application.
Here, too, the example of enemy war propaganda was typical; limited to a few points, devised exclusively for the masses, carried on with indefatigable persistence. Once the basic ideas and methods of execution were recognized as correct, they were applied throughout the whole War without the slightest change. At first the claims of the propaganda were so impudent that people thought it insane; later, it got on people's nerves; and in the end, it was believed. After four and a half years, a revolution broke out in Germany; and its slogans originated in the enemy's war propaganda.
And in England they understood one more thing: that this spiritual weapon can succeed only if it is applied on a tremendous scale, but that success amply covers all costs.
There, propaganda was regarded as a weapon of the first order, while in our country it was the last resort of unemployed politicians and a comfortable haven for slackers.
And, as was to be expected, its results all in all were zero.
Don't make me post the rest of it!