THE GERMANY OF today.
Address by PROFESSOR L. E. HORNING, PH.D., of the University of Toronto (Victoria College), before the Empire Club of Canada, on December Loth, 1908.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
The man who wishes to understand the Germany of today will have to go a long way back in history in order to get at the sources of the movements that are now so important in that land. Three factors must be taken into account-you must follow carefully the history of Prussia to its present greatness; you must follow the history of the little District of Brandenburg, which began even earlier than Prussia to engage the attention of Europe; and you must study the history of the family that has from 1415 been continuously on the throne, and that boasts of nineteen rulers, averaging twenty-six years apiece, a record not surpassed by any ruling family. It is one of the greatest dynasties that Western Europe has seen.
Furthermore, to understand the problems of to-ay in Germany, you must follow the history of Church and State, and their relation to each other. You must know the relations of the nobility, or the upper classes, to the Church and the relation of the Church to these classes-, and when you know these, you will find that they were combined for a number of centuries to rule for weal or woe the whole central part of Europe. Then you must also follow the rise of the middle classes which began to assume great importance in the eighteenth century, and culminated in horrible fashion, as far as the French were concerned, in the Revolution of 1789. That event, which marks the crest of one of the waves of middle-class life, is the revolution that did away with the power and strength and importance of the nobility. And, in the nineteenth century, in England, France, Germany, Italy and Austria, we have the rise of what is sometimes called the fourth class, that is, of the people from whom the Socialists largely recruit their followers. We in Canada may be thankful that we are untrammeled by the history and traditions of the various classes in dealing with our forms of these same problems.
The Revolutions of I830 and 1848, the wars for the liberation of Germany, and for the overthrow of Napoleon in 1812 to 1815; the wars leading to the unification of Germany-in 1864 with Denmark, in 1866 with Austria, and in 1870 and 1871 with Prance-are all of them more or less direct outcomes of this movement backward and forward, this ebbing and flowing of the tide of national growth and national development in which the lower classes were to be some of the prime factors. The War of 1870 and 1871, which assured to Prussia the headship of the German Confederation and the leadership of the central part of Europe, opened out to the German people a vista of their coming greatness, dazzling in the extreme. Because of the immense indemnity paid by Prance at the close of the war, Germany was flooded with a wealth that she had never known before, with the result that there began at once a remarkable increase in her industrial output in all departments, which has brought about a complete revolution in the whole life of the country, its evolution from an agrarian or agricultural state to a nation of manufacturers. And you all know, you business men, how important Germany is today in commercial matters. Sixty per cent of her population is dependent upon her industrial weal. That shows you to what great importance her industry has come, and it has all come within thirty-five years. Englishmen, who had had undisputed commercial possession of sea and land up to this time, did exactly what Englishmen are apt to do when somebody comes along whom they have never expected to meet as competitors and rivals; they suddenly woke up, with a sort of unpleasant surprise, to the fact that there was somebody at their elbow, pushing them out, in a great many instances, of what they thought was their undisputed right and property. What is the result? There is growing up on the side of the Germans an industrial rivalry that inevitably leads them to misinterpret a great many of the moves of England; and on the part of the Englishmen it has led to irritability and shortness of temper, so that they, too, naturally take umbrage at the moves of Germany. This has been going on for a number of years. Today it is getting dangerous. The Germans feel that they must have all the openings they can find throughout the world; Englishmen feel that they must be up and doing to maintain their hold on their commerce; thus there is brought about a sort of armed neutrality, but you see how naturally and easily one may explain this rivalry of these two great nations, which is fraught with so many grave possibilities for the future. What is necessary for us as Englishmen, and what will be necessary for the Germans as Germans, is to be very careful to have wise heads in control of affairs in both countries, so that no unnecessary friction may result.
Industrially, Germany is in difficulties, because she must have outlets. But that is not the sole problem she has to solve. There is the very troublesome Polish question, which is as old as our era, or nearly so. In the years from 375 to 500 there was a shifting to and fro of the tribes and nations in the central part of Europe-Slavs and Germans and Romans-with the result that the old Roman Empire was dismembered. Its place was occupied in large measure by the German
tribes, who in turn, during the succeeding centuries, were driven forward by the incoming Slavs. In the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
the Germans made heroic efforts to re-colonize the territory that had been won by the Slavs, between the Elbe and the Vistula. Thus it came that there was a
strip of land, which you might extend right down to the Adriatic Sea, where the people fought backward and forward with varying success, but with the result that the Germans, chiefly by the aid of the Teutonic Knights, did re-colonize a large portion of the district. The land they re-conquered is now a part of Prussia, originally the name of a small piece of territory in the northeastern corner of the Germany of today, and the Province of Posen is still largely Slav, that is, Polish.
The question is a difficult one. The Poles are always ready to fight against Germany and Russia for the re-establishment of an independent kingdom. They are very tenacious of their language, quite rightly so I believe, and they are thoroughly well supplied with money by the Catholic Church to over-bid and out-buy the Germans, who wish to get possession of large tracts of their territory and settle them with German-speaking colonists. The question of how to rule conquered countries has not been solved by these Continental nations. England is the only country that knows how-to exercise such government. I was in Germany when the question of the South African Confederation came up, and found it very instructive to' read the comments of various influential papers in reference to the granting of a constitution to the Transvaal and the Orange
Republic. They did not see how it was possible, did not know how it was possible, could not dream of how it could be possible for the English Government to hand over such lately conquered countries of different race to be ruled by themselves under British procedure. They do not understand it today. The reason why the Germans are having so much trouble in Africa is that they are ruling the negroes in the way they rule their own German subjects, who have been taught for centuries to obey and march to orders. This Polish question is very important. The Germans are trying to blot out the language of the Poles by decrees of Par
liament, which will scarcely be possible, but they have gone so far that even the school-children are engaged in striking against the authority of the Government. Think of such a thing under British rule!
In Denmark they have troubles, and there is the Danish party in both German Parliamentary Houses. In Alsace and Lorraine, which have for centuries been a fighting ground between the southern Germans and the French, they are also having their troubles to satisfy the people of these newly-acquired territories. All of these are internal political questions that are very important, very difficult to deal with, and all of which require patience.
The geography of Germany brings problems in its train. The Empire is made up of twenty-two different States and three large cities that had been independent
for centuries. Great numbers of the citizens of these various States still feel that it would be better to be independent than to have this greatness of Empire, and loss of traditional privileges, thrust upon them. That being so, how can you expect these people to be held together with a thoroughly well-knit bond of union, such as is growing between England and her component parts ? If you go back in English history to the union of Scotland with England, or in later days to the Irish question you will see that we have had in part some of the same problems with which the Germans have still to deal where is a natural line of cleavage between the north and the south, and what appeals to the north German is very likely not to appeal to the south German, who is of an entirely different temperament. Internally these people are divided, and it is not possible to expect a well-cemented Empire in a single day; such a process takes years, often centuries. They are very, patriotic, they are building up a great industrial State, and the necessities of these industrial problems are going to contribute to the cementing of the union in a way mere political considerations would not do.
There is still another question of internal politics, that of the constitution, to which I will refer in a few moments. Permit me now to turn to the Colonial policy. Time will not permit me to do more than refer to it and to link it, as it must be, with the great industrial evolution to which I have referred. Whether Germany will ever have colonies, in the sense that England has them, is a question which must be left to the future. As you know, most of the desirable land in the world has already been pre-empted. Outlets for her wares she must have-but colonies-time alone will tell.
In foreign politics the Eastern question is very interesting, as well as very old. From the Conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 down to the present it has been one of the playthings of European politicians. It has been called by one name or another, but it is still with us in the newest form, Slav vs. Teuton. The dismemberment of the Turkish Empire was begun in 1827, when the Kingdom of Greece took new form. The Crimean War of 1854 prevented Russia from reaching Constantinople, but Austria, driven out of Italy in 1866, began to look in the same direction. In 1878, as a result of the Berlin Treaty, the further dismemberment of Turkey was proceeded with and several independent States were formed-Servia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, etc. Roumania was made independent, and given its own king. Two Slav States were given to Austria for occupation and regulation, viz.: Herzegovina and Bosnia. Austria has a large Slav population in its eastern part (Hungary), so that there is now a line of cleavage between Slav and German right through the centre of the Austrian Empire. For long years it has been the hope of every German that with the death of Emperor Franz Joseph the German part of Austria would fall into the German Empire under the leadership of Prussia. Hungary and the Slav Provinces would then naturally make a Slav confederation. Several times when talking with well-educated men in Leipzig two years ago, I heard all this thoroughly discussed. But Austria, instead of dying gracefully, has shown a great deal of liveliness on her death-bed, with the result that she has, within these two months, proclaimed the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Austrian Crown, thus putting a stop to the ambitions and dreams of the young Servians, a Slav people, and creating for herself another step down toward Constantinople and that eastern outlet that she has been wanting so long to obtain.
Finally, permit me to refer to a problem that is engaging the attention of Germans today and which is of paramount importance, viz.: the question of the constitution. When the Emperor and the Church went hand in hand, as they did through all the centuries from the twelfth to the sixteenth, there grew up an alliance that has since been hard to sever, with the result that even today the ordinary German feels that the Church is in league with the upper classes, and that it is hostile to the interests and ambitions of the lower. That is the reason, a perfectly sane, sensible, historical reason, why the great mass of the people, from whom the Socialists at present recruit most of their adherents, are opposed to the Church. When in the nineteenth century these people found that they had no longer to fight the upper classes-because these had really been done away with by the Revolution-but found they had to fight the middle classes, the conflict became extremely bitter.
It is one of the conundrums of history why these middle classes, who had finally, after long struggle, won their rights from the upper classes, should not be perfectly willing to give to the people below them their own rights, political and otherwise! The history of the nineteenth century, especially of the latter part, is the tale of the efforts on the part of the lower classes to get the same equal rights which the middle classes at present possess.
When you study history from 1848, because the Revolution of 1830 had not concerned the lower classes, from that time down to the present you will find that what we call the Socialist Party were really advanced or Radical Liberals. But if you try to follow the history of the various parties that are to be found in the German House of Commons, you will be dealing with a very intricate and very confusing problem. There is one characteristic of the German which we all admire he simply does not follow anybody else. He thinks independently and for himself, and he always allows other men the privilege of being of another mind. That is the characteristic of the German professor and of the German student. That is the essence of Liberalism, or freedom, when you interpret it in the widest sense possible, and that makes it very hard to follow the history of parties and of the efforts to attain to representative government on the part of the German people. In one Parliament you will find seventeen or eighteen parties, and in the next the same number, only that some that were in the first have separated into two or three sections each, and each section has fresh affiliations in the new Parliament, probably under a new name, only to again change affiliations and names after four or five years. One is very apt to become lost in the resulting confusion; but the general trend is toward a more representative government. They have their constitution, but the trouble is that all through this fight for liberty and parliamentary freedom, as known in England, Prussia, -which stands for law and order, and did so much to unite Germany into one whole, is in this respect the most behind-hand of all the twenty-two kingdoms. The Prussian King has always clung to his Divine Right, and that is the trouble with the Emperor today. There was a very good reason for these rulers standing for their Divine Right. The people, who had lived and fed their hopes on the progress of the Constitutional development of England and America, were fighting for what they considered their political rights. The Church and the Emperor, with glorious examples behind them in history, were fighting for what they considered their privileges and rights, and the clash is coming-the clash has not come yet to the full extent but I believe firmly it is imminent. In a very few years, at any rate, they will be in the midst of it, and then it is a question whether the Emperor will be able to give in gracefully enough to allow the natural course of development in German democracy to have its way. The day of Democracy is coming all over the world, in a sense that we have not yet dreamed of. Nothing can stop it. Judging from the development of history nothing can stop the onward march of the idea that every man has a right to his full share in the government under which he lives. Therefore it seems to me that, put it off as long as you like, some day the various Radical parties in Germany will see the necessity of union for political ends. It is very unfortunate, to my mind, that the Socialists have been dealt with so severely and unfairly. There is absolutely no justification for the treatment meted out in the last few years to a party that numbers one-fourth of the voters of the land. Nothing can prevent these people from gaining their rights in time, and let us hone that the revolution will be bloodless and not, as it was in 1789, horror-striking and terrible.
These questions of the industrial and political development of Germany are, of course, the main questions today. There are other questions, however the relation of nation to nation, for instance-which are also fraught with a great deal of danger. A few years ago, as a result of the immense influence gained for Germany by the Franco-Prussian War there was formed the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria and Italy. That alliance has naturally gone the way of all the earth, because Italy was not wealthy enough to bear its share of the burden; Austria was having its own trouble with its Slav population; therefore Germany has had to bear the brunt alone. When Germany wanted coaling ports for her fleets, which she has been so anxious to build, she seized the first pretext for intermeddling with European politics, and the Moroccan question originated. Out of that case Germany did not come with altogether flying colours. Then she has been trying, through the Bagdad Railway, which runs down through Asia Minor, to create an outlet there for some of her commerce; and she has been also trying to gain for herself territory in Africa that will give her some, room for surplus population. This territory in Africa led her into trouble in the Boer War, because the Emperor, who had his eyes on Africa, was very anxious that the English should not gain the Orange Vree State, but should be kept out of it at all costs, and it is perfectly well authenticated that German officers, perhaps without sanction, were aiding and abetting and encouraging the Boers to continue the opposition to England.
Whether all men see eye to eye on the Boer War, or agree as to the injustice of England's position, it seems to me that it was inevitable, and that the result has been for the best. The very liberality with which England has treated those Republics has given evidence that her ambition or her designs were not altogether discreditable.
The telegram of the Emperor to President Kruger was one of the most recent causes of friction between England and Germany. Of course you saw or heard of the letter in the Daily Telegraph, or the interview a couple of months ago, explaining that Germany had really stopped France and Russia from combining against England at that dangerous juncture. I have read that explanation, and of the relation of Germany, France and Russia at that time, and yet I am not led to believe that Germany was altogether disinterested. We have also the statement of the Emperor that he contributed a plan of campaign, which was marvellously like that which the English followed. That is, of course, something that may or may not have been. Personally, I do not think that Lord Roberts followed any plan but his own.
I am probably safe in saying that few of us dreamed that our King Edward would develop into such a thorough-going diplomat as he has proved himself to be. We have every reason to be proud of his work. Without shedding a drop of blood, he has cemented Europe into what may be called a peaceful family of nations, first of all encircling and isolating the only nation from which there is today any real trouble to be expected. That is a terrible thorn in the side of the Germans. Read the comments in the various newspapers, national and provincial, as I read them a year ago, and you will see who is the bold, bad man-the silent Edward, as they call him. And every cartoon, and there are plenty of fine cartoonists in Germany, which deals with these questions, has this silent man in the background. He is an untold force; he knows how to hold his tongue.
The German Emperor is a man of a different stamp. Believe me, I have just as high a respect for his; great abilities as any German can have. I think there is no country in the world in which I would rather live, if I were not in England or English possessions, than in Germany. You have to be a little careful there with political thought, just as we have to be here with religious thought. But if you want to be up-to-date today on religion, or politics, or commerce, or science, of any kind whatever, you have to study and know the German people, their language and their methods. We have to go to Germany to study even the English language. There is no doubt about it, gentlemen, the most important language for us in the world, outside of our own Mother-tongue, is our sister-tongue, the German. We must reckon with it at every turn. A few years ago we could go here and there all over the world and find the Union Jack flying, but we did not find the German flag. today it does not matter where we go, the very finest ships that are sailing the seas are flying the German flag, and the most rapid and most thorough progress that is being made in commercial lines is made under their tutelage and under their guidance.
The German recognizes science in a way that Englishmen have no conception of, and we Englishmen will have to waken up, as we have not wakened up, to the fact that the German is the most progressive nation on the face of the earth today. I appreciate and love the Germans naturally and with good intent and thorough right. I have enough German in me to make me very susceptible of influence from their side; but I am Canadian, as all of you are. I am Canadian because my father and my grandfather and great-grandfather were born in this country among the first settlers. I am, English because I love the English Constitution and the political freedom that is granted under that Constitution; but I am German in spirit, and in thought and in love, because I love the scientific freedom and the progressive spirit that animates every mother's son of them, from the Fast to the West and the North to the South. I respect the German Emperor and believe he is thoroughly honest and upright in his views, and that he believes he is called of God to his great office. It will be hard for, him, a young man in the prime of life, to resign the privileges that have come down through the ages to his family. It will be next to impossible for him to give them up. But I most firmly believe that it will be necessary for him to do this, because I believe above all kings and classes and rulers, there is the Democracy that has to be reckoned with in this twentieth century of our era. I hope and believe that the democratic progress in Germany will not be stopped, will not be hindered, will not be delayed beyond what will be necessary to ensure solidity of growth. On the other hand, wise provisions for the development of German Democracy, with a wise yielding on the part of the German Emperor, will make it possible for Germany to remain, where she undoubtedly stands today, in the very fore-front of the nations.