- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 24 Feb 1910, p. 160-168
- Ryerson, Dr. George Sterling, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The speaker's experiences in Germany many years ago as a young post-graduate student. The many friendships and opinions he formed at that time regarding the thoroughness, tenacity of purpose, perseverance, and self-sacrificing patriotism of the Germans. The undercurrent of mysticism, medeaevalism and philosophy which seems inherent in the German nature also noted. The speaker's tour in 1909 and his observations then of many changes set forth here. First, a quote from Fuch's "The Emperor and the Future of the Germany People" for the purpose of contrasting the past with the present. Now a Germany no longer idealistic and philosophic, with Industrial progress requiring the sacrifice of ideals and sentiment. Descriptive details of how the speaker finds the Germans and Germany today. The structure of Germany's political institutions, with all power centres in the King-Emperor. German competition. Germany industrially as England's child. Trade as a German passion. Reasons why the Germans are successful as business men. Details of the iron industry, of the manufacture of chemical products. Employment and wage figures. The great influence of the Chambers of Commerce. The promotion of foreign trade. Technical training schools. Population and emigration figures. The decline of infant mortality. Financial support provided. Legislative protection for working mothers. Statistics of foreign trade, illustrating Germany's industrial expansion. Income subject to taxation, indicating Germany's growth. Agricultural production. Feeding the people. Germany's power on land and sea. Some alternative's for German expansion. Possible responses from the United States, and England. Germany bound to bring on a war with some other great power at no very distant date. Germany's armed forces, equipment, and facilities. The Emperor's direction of naval policy in Germany. What he has said. How the naval, military and industrial development of Germany affects Canadians. Canada's duty to Imperial Defence.
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- 24 Feb 1910
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- THE NEW GERMANY.
An Address by DR. GEORGE STERLING RYERSON, before the Empire Club of Canada, on February 24th, 1910.
Many years ago I went as a young graduate to Germany for a course of post-graduate study. During my residence in that country I formed many friendships and opinions regarding the thoroughness, tenacity of purpose, perseverance, and self-sacrificing patriotism of the Germans. I also noted the undercurrent of mysticism, mediaevalist and philosophy which seems inherent in the German nature. During my tour in Ice, I observed many changes, intellectual, industrial and national. These changes I propose to set forth in this paper. But, first let me quote from Fuch's, "The Emperor and the Future of the German People," for the purpose of contrasting the past with the present. He says
"One is often pained and overcome with longing as one thinks of the German of a hundred years ago. He was poor, he was impotent, he was despised, ridiculed and defrauded. He was the uncomplaining slave of others; his fields were their battleground and the goods which he had inherited from his fathers were trod under foot and dispersed. He shed his blood nobly without asking why. He never troubled when the riches of the outside world were divided without regard to him. He sat in his bare little room high under the roof in simple coat and clumsy shoes; but his heart was full of sweet dreams and uplifted by the chords of Beethoven to a rapture which threatened to rend his breast. He wept with Werther and Jean Paul in joyous pain, he smiled with childish innocence at his native poets, the happiness of his longing consumed him and, as he listened to Shubert's song, his soul became one with the soul of the universe. Let us think no more of it--it is useless. We have become men and the virtues of our youth are ours no more. We can but face the inevitable and overcome it.
But a change has come and the days have gone when Fichte preached the preciousness of poverty combined with spiritual worth. It is the same Germany, but no longer idealistic and philosophic, for Industrial progress requires the sacrifice of ideals and sentiment. The turning point was reached in the Danish, the Austrian and finally in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-7r. Then came the new Empire, the French milliards and the new spirit. Paulson says: "Two souls dwell in German nature. The German nation has been called a nation of poets and thinkers--today it may be called the nation of masterful combatants." The Germans are pacific. They will not disturb the world's peace if they can obtain their ends by other means. Their objective is economic conquest. Their first move was to modernise schools where English was substituted for French. Its commercial value is undoubted. The dead languages, philosophy and poetry were given a secondary place. It is now the cult of force, force worship, for Bismark said, "All political questions are questions of force." Idealism has given place to materialism and the race for wealth. Germany has many of the faults of young nations-bumtious, self-assertive.
In its political institutions, all power centres in the King-Emperor. He gives little or much as it pleases him. Parliamentary government is only the shadow of power as we understand it. The Ministers are appointed by the Emperor and removed by him at will. Money votes are obtained by combination of parties. Local parliaments are most thought of. The Reichstag is not so well considered. Some jealousy of its powers and of Prussia's predominence exists. Prussia is a most progressive state, yet less broad and liberal than the South German states. Socialism is active, but has lost ground lately. Roman Catholics form a distinct party. The Landowners are conservative to the last degree. The people manifest a keen interest in political questions and elections for 85 percent of the population go to the polls.
The English complain of German competition, yet Germany industrially is England's child. English capital, brains and energy built railways, tramways, machine shops, engineering works, gas works, electrical works and shewed the way to build up the industrial nation. British workmen were imported, their brains sucked dry, and let go. The German is not very inventive, but knows how to imitate and improve on what he has learned. Germans work with enthusiasm. Trade is a passion. It occupies their whole thoughts and energies and they are not above their business. If in business, that is the whole thing, and social considerations do not count. The best men do not now enter Government service as formerly. Occasionally business men who are wealthy take Government office. Many of the best Government officials leave the service to direct industrial concerns, attracted by the high salaries. The Germans are successful as business men because they
1. Give their whole thought to work and attention to smallest details;
2. Have a cheaper price for products;
3. Seek a more serviceable character in goods;
4. Have abandoned the idea that the consumer is made for the producer;
5. Solicit business personally;
6. Use progressive methods and most modern plants;
7. Have adapted scientific technique to industrial production.
The iron industry employs 1,200,000 hands. A writer in Blackwood's Magazine states that "in 1880 Great Britain produced more than twice as much steel as Germany. In 1896 Germany produced nearly twice as much steel as Great Britain. Britain's yearly steel production in those sixteen years increased less than five-fold; German steel production increased eighteen-fold. The same writer says that: "One of the greatest of German industries is the manufacture of chemical products. Perhaps the most striking example is that of aniline dyes. Germany exports £5,000,000 worth of these dyes annually, largely made from English coal tars and by a process invented by an Englishman. By the production of synthetic indigo, Germany has thrown out of cultivation 1,500,000 acres of land in India devoted to the growing of indigo. The output of the German chemical industries, not including sugar, is estimated at £60,000,000 of which 120,000,000 is exported. Nearly 200,000 hands are employed and their wages amount to £10,000,000 annually."
They boast that the day of empiricism has gone and that their products are the result of exact science. The influence of Chambers of Commerce is great. The members are elected by all registered firms in a district and have departments in charge of experts, who are the eyes and ears of trade. The Berlin Chamber issues a handbook for commercial travellers, giving all possible information regarding foreign trade, customs, trade routes; etc. Foreign trade is also promoted by the association of foreign export firms who maintain Central Information agencies. Young men are despatched to all parts of the world to learn languages, native habits and requirements and send reports back home and work up the idea that German goods are the best. In Germany are to be found technical training schools of all kinds; building trades, machine building, electrical, chemical, architecture and mining. Saxony, with a population of 4,500,000, has 36o special technical and trade schools besides industrial continuation schools, trade and agricultural schools. The workmen are clean, industrious and cared for. All German workmen carry two insurances. 1. Accident, where the cost is borne entirely by employers; 2. Invalidity and old age which is borne by employers and workmen equally.
The population was in 1870, 40,818,000, and in 1907, 61,697,000 or a yearly increase from 900,000 to 1,000,000. The causes are, lessened emigration--in 1881, 220,000 emigrated, and in 19o6, only 31,ooo emigrated-and decreased infant mortality. The annual increase equaled that of Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Italy and France combined. Dispensaries are maintained where advice and instruction in infant rearing are given free. Either free or low-cost sterilized milk is distributed. Money is granted to nursing mothers in poor circumstances. Defects of feeding are pointed out in lectures to women. The municipality of Berlin supports lying-in-homes, homes for nursing women. Forest homes are kept for convalescent mothers and infants. Many towns give nursing mothers milk and a meal-a-day free. Various associations aid sick mothers and nursing children. Working mothers are protected by special legislation, and 80 percent of infant mortality is thus saved. The relative density of population is, Saxony 780, West-pnalia 465, Prussia 236, Ontario 1,509. The French still talk about a war of revenge, but before they undertake it they must first decrease their death and increase their birth rate. For the first six months of 1909, the excess of deaths over births in France was 28,205.
Nothing illustrates Germany's industrial expansion so well as its statistics of foreign trade. In 1880, the total imports for home consumption were £141,000,000 and its imports of manufactured goods, 1114,800,000; the exports of manufactured goods were 183,500,000. In 1907, the imports were 443,000,000, the exports £356,000,000. Every year manufactured goods form a smaller proportion of the imports and a larger proportion of the exports. As to Great Britain, she sells Germany 139,000,000 and buys £52,000,000 from her. Germany imports £20,000,000 from the United States and exports 127,000,000. Germany's export trade has been growing at an average rate of 115,000,000 a year. Not only has Germany's foreign trade advanced by giant strides, but its maritime trade is more and more carried in native vessels. In 1874, Germany's share of the mercantile marine of the world was 5.2 percent; in 1894, 6.5 percent; and in 1905 9.9 percent.
Another important indication of Germany's growth is derived from the amount of income subject to taxation. From 1892 to 1905 the British income subject to tax, increased 15 percent, the German 60 percent; British savings bank deposits from 1901 to 1907 increased $85,000,000, while German savings bank deposits increased £860,000,000. (Collier, England and the English.) Germany had formerly a large unemployed population, but since the evolution of the industrial era emigration has been checked. The question then arises how are these people to be fed. There is a constant drift of agricultural labourers to manufacturing centres, their place being taken by several hundred thousands of Slavs and people of eastern Europe. No effort can make the land produce more food products. It is said that there are still 10,000,000 acres of moor lands which might be cultivated and would support about 400;000 people. Germany no longer feeds itself notwithstanding a great increase of nativegrown wheat and rye. The deficit in wheat in 1905 was 2,000,000 tons, and rye 500,000 tons. With the ever-increasing population, imports of wheat must be ever-increasing.
It requires no mathematical acumen to see that with an increase of 1,000,000 souls a year, the small German territories will soon be filled to repletion. Fancy 63,000,000 people in a country smaller than Ontario! It is open to the Government to strangle the infants at birth or to acquire more territory. But where? There is the difficulty. The German Colonies in east and west Africa, and in Australasia are not suited to a large white emigration by reason of climate. There is but one great colony-holding power in the world--England. A people numbering 45,000,000 hold all the green places in the earth. She is weak in land force, but is powerful at sea. If Germany were to descend upon and hold the little island she would possess herself of the heart of the greatest colonial empire in the world. Some of the lesser or least protected colonies would fall to her share, giving her an outlet for her surplus population. Failing this plan, she has the alternative of seizing smaller nations. South America offers the most tempting field for such an adventure. Pretexts may not be wanting to intervene in the frequent internecine wars of the South American republics, as England has intervened in Egypt and Austria in Bosnia and Herzegovina. What would United States say to this?
Does the Monroe doctrine of today extend to South America? The Venezuelan difficulty in 1894 would make it appear that it did. Would England standby the United States in case of a war with the Germans? Would the United States stand by England in case of a war between Germany and England? Germany has now 400,000 subjects in Brazil, and her trade with South America is very large. My argument therefore is that owing to the superabundant populations confined in a comparatively narrow space in Europe and to the necessity which is growing more and more urgent for an outlet for her people under her own flag and new markets for her goods, Germany is bound to bring on a war with some other great Power at no very distant date. It will be either with England or with the United States, if the latter stand by the Monroe doctrine.
What force has Germany for bringing such a war to a successful conclusion? First, the Army. She had in 1908, 619,606 men with the colours. In other words, 1.17 percent of the population is enrolled in the first line of defence, and 98.83 percent are engaged in their usual occupations. She claims to be able to put 4,000,000 men in the field in case of war. For transports she has 1,762 sea-going ships with a tonnage of 2,000,000 tons. Second, the Navy. In 1898, Germany had 16 battleships, 20 cruisers and 118 torpedo boats of various classes. In 1908 she had 20 battleships, 40 cruisers, 138 torpedo boats, and a considerable number of submarines. Formerly Germany bought her ships from England, now she not only builds most of her own ships, but builds for other nations. In 1906 there were built in German private yards, 757 ships, tonnage 390,991,--8 were ships of war, and 623 merchant seagoing ships, 2 ships of war for foreign Governments, and 105 foreign merchant ships. The construction programme of 1900 proposes to bring the strength of the Navy by the year 1920 up to 38 battleships and 14 large cruisers; 17 battleships, 6 large cruisers, and 19 small cruisers will be laid ,down between the present time and 19.17. There are now building (1908) 7 battleships, 3 large armoured cruisers, small cruisers, 3 gun-boats, and 24 torpedo boats, and a large number of submarines. Twenty years ago the naval estimates were £3,500,000, but for the next ten years they will amount to £21,000,000 annually. Twenty years ago the Navy was manned by 15,000 officers and men, now it has more than 50,000.
For practical purposes it is the Emperor who directs the naval policy, a power given him under the constitution of the Empire. He said on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Empire: "The. German Empire has become a world Empire. Thousands of our German countrymen live in all parts of the globe. German goods, German knowledge, German enterprise go across the ocean. The values which Germany carries upon the sea figure at thousands of millions of marks. It is your solemn duty to bind this greater German Empire fast to the Empire at home." Later, he said, "Imperial power denotes seapower, and Imperial power and sea-power are complementary, the one cannot exist without the other. Germany advances the right to maintain the Army and Navy which it requires for the maintenance of its interests." The position of, Germany was officially stated by Prince Von Bulow in the Reichstag on March 24th, 19o8, in the following words: "We do not dispute England's right to draw up a naval programme in accordance with the standard which its responsible statesmen consider necessary for the maintenance of British world maritime supremacy, and similarly it cannot be taken amiss that we should build those ships which we require, nor can we be blamed for desiring that our programme of naval construction should not be represented as a challenge to England." The Cologne Gazette recently stated: "If Germany were to suggest to England a restriction of the British programme of warship construction, it would provoke a storm of indignation in England. In the same way, it is not clear by what right Great Britain can exercise any influence over Germany's naval programme."
Now, how does the naval military and industrial development of Germany affect Canadians? Directly as regards trade and indirectly as a part of the British Empire. I have shown that Germany cannot possibly raise sufficient food-stuff to feed the overwhelming and rapidly increasing population. We are raising more wheat and cattle than we can use. Obviously a raprochement with Germany would give us an enlarged market for these products. The abolition of the Surtax will give us a greatly increased trade with Germany. I have not the least doubt but that within a few weeks German commercial travellers will cover this country and with their usual thoroughness, persuasiveness and adaptability will build up a considerable trade. Whether this will operate to the advantage of Preferential Trade with England is another matter. Still, if the English will not adopt preferential trade, we must look after our own interests.
As to the indirect influence upon Canada, we must, if we would have peace and if we would maintain our position as an essential factor in the British Empire, we must prepare for war. It seems sufficiently obvious to me that Great Britain cannot continue to compete successfully with Germany in maintaining the two-power standard at sea. England now has forty-five million people, and Germany sixty-three. Germany produces seven children to three born in England. English naval expenditures must reach the breaking point some day. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to do our share of Imperial Defence, both on land and sea, and assume these responsibilities which we, who claim to be a nation within the Empire, should rightly bear.