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I—THE UNIFICATION OF GERMANY
BY ALBERT BUSHNELL HART
PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY
SHERMAN Ideas of Unity. In the whole I y history of mankind there has never been such an example of the terrific impact of millions of human beings, united underone flag, withone purpose, in one military organization, with one controlling will power, as in the present Germany. The Empire seems a bolt of forged steel, every fiber of which is instinct with the conception that in union, and in union only, are strength and victory. Yet a hundred and fifty years ago there was nowhere in the Western world a group of people speaking the same language and having the same national origin and traditions who seemed so far from a common national life. The process by which out of Germans came Germany is one of the liveliest of historical dramas; and it especially interests us because of the effect upon that process of the success of our own great federation in America.
The first people who wrote about the Germans found them anything but unified. Their chief pursuits seemed to be drinking mead and fighting their neighbors; or, if there were no neighbors handy, fighting each other. The first unifying principle came from without. When the Germans conquered Rome, Rome conquered the Germans, for the Empire hypnotized them with its magnificent and still unrivaled system of world government. The German chieftain, who perhaps got his place by annihilating his predecessor (something like a modern American postmaster), was dazzled by Rome and planned to be a king who could lay down the law to his fellow-citizens. So kingdoms were built up of Lombards and Franks, till Charlemagne came along and personated the unique conception of one king for the Germans, who should at the same time be Emperor of the world.
Holy Roman Empire. Thus was founded the Holy Roman Empire with one head, the "German Emperor in the Realm," who claimed, and sometimes exercised, dominion over Italy as well as Germany; who made dukes, reigning princes, and even kings; who was the splendid center of temporal
power; equal in his field to the Pope in his field, the two together being "the two swords " ordained by the Saviour of men.
It was not in the German blood to accept such a sovereign as actual supreme ruler over the people of their tongue. They set up counter-emperors, and then combinations of other puissant lords, who at last wove a net in which the Emperor was held fast. Seven of them took upon themselves the right to name the Emperor and to tie up the candidates with promises to waive great portions of their royal powers if elected. From 1300 to 1789 the development in Germany was that of territorial princes, large and small, among which were counted scores of free cities.
After the Hapsburgs came to have the presumptive right to be elected Emperors the dignity declined. The Imperial Diet, which met at Regensburg, squabbled endlessly over unimportant questions. The Imperial courts were ignored by the princes. The Empire could not protect its own borders. The Low Countries and northern Switzerland slipped out of its grasp. It was a curious medley. Austria was the forefront of the Empire, but nearly half the Austrian dominions were not in the Empire. Little states were divided and subdivided until toward the end there was one full-grown independent country which was under legal obligation to furnish seventeen men in case the Empire went to war. The French Revolution sent to the scrap-heap this piece of obsolete machinery. The larger units "incorporated" their small neighbors, and in 1806 the Empire ceased to be.
Advance of Prussia. Though the ancient German Empire died, Germany lived as a great vital force, half smothered in its own confusion of governments jealous of each other. There was one German people speaking one court and literary language; one general German literature; and yet even after the pruning of the Napoleonic period there were thirty-nine governmental units, including four independent city states—Hamburg, Liibeck, Bremen, and Frankfort; the Kingdoms of Saxony, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and Hanover, mostly of Napoleon's creation; the Grand Duchy of Baden; and various smaller fragments of duchies and principalities. The two leading and rival powers in Germany were the Kingdom of Prussia and the Empire of Austria. The latter had lost the shadow title of German Emperor, but was President of the German Confederation formed in 1815, and by its military might and its control over small German states exercised its will on questions involving the German-speaking peoples.
Prussia, though classed as one of the five great Powers of Europe, was terribly impoverished, weakened, and dispirited by the Napoleonic wars. The little kingdom had lost many thousands of its men. Its kings were below the average of the Hohenzollern sovereigns, and it had been deliberately weakened by assigning to it provinces on the left bank of the Rhine which had never been Prussian, which were permeated by French political principles, and which were cut off from the old Brandenburg provinces by the intervening Kingdom of Hanover and other unfriendly German states. Litde did the crafty diplomats of the Congress of Vienna realize that they were thus compelling the Prussians to annex the bridge between the two ends of their dominions or to be stifled. It was fifty years before Prussia contested the primacy of Austria over the rest of Germany; though, beginning about 1830, it drew the neighboring states together in a Zollverein, a customs union, of which some vestiges still exist in the German Empire.
A golden moment seemed to come in 1848, when a German National Parliament was held at Frankfort with the purpose of forming a general German constitution. And almost at the same moment a Slavic congress was held in Prague, with a view to bring together the various Slav elements in the Austrian Empire in opposition to the Germans. This Frankfort Parliament split on the fundamental question whether the German Austrians were to be included. A formal offer was made to King Frederick William of Prussia that he should take the headship of the new confederation, with the title of Emperor of the Germans. Neither Austria nor the South German states were ready for such a step, and Frederick William had not the military force to compel them to come in. With shame and sorrow the Prussians let the opportunity pass.
Bismarck's Preparations. The defeat of the Austrians by the French at Solferino in 1859 suggested that the. Austrian military power had been overrated; and against it the Germans unexpectedly recruited a whole grand army in the single person of Count Otto von Bismarck. One of the stumblingblocks in the way of German progress was the expectation that the country was to be pulled out of its low estate by a Hohenzollern or by the titled aristocracy. It was therefore an unwelcome shock when the new King William in 1861 made Bismarck his adviser and support. Never was there such a crushing disproof of the theory of sovereignty by divine right. Bismarck came of an obscure family of the Junker class—that is, (he country landed aristocracy. He had been Prussian observer at the Frankfort Parliament and had learned to detest the " smallstatism" of Germany. This big and boisterous man, brought up on his couutry estate and in the little rural University of Gottingen, was the one German who understood the causes of his country's weakness and could contrive a remedy. From this point for about thirty years he was the greatest figure in Europe.
Bismarck's mind fathomed the inherent difficulty of the situation—namely, that Austria-Hungary, with a population of nine million Germans and twenty-six million nonGermans, was in control of the policies of thirtyfive million Germans outside her boundaries. The first thing to do was to smash Austria; but that required a new military tool, which Bismarck and King William proceeded to forge. This was universal military service, by which every able-bodied young German could be called to serve for a fixed period (eventually two years) in the army. The proposition raised an uproar in the Prussian Landtag, the lower house of which absolutely refused to vote the necessary taxes; whereupon his Majesty, upon Bismarck's adv ice, levied the tax upon the same scale as in the previous year, without any vote of the Landtag. General von Roon took in hand the troops thus raised and made them an army.
Prussia and Austria were the most powerful members of the German Confederation. The next step was to prove that Prussia was to take the lead in that combination. The occasion was found in the attempt of the people of Schleswig-Holstein to throw off Danish rule. It used to be said that Benjamin Disraeli was the one man in Europe who understood that complicated question. Bismarck did not attempt to understand it; ail he meant to do was to use it. Accordingly a joint army of Prussians and Austrians seized the territory in dispute, and Prussia took part of the plunder. In addition the Prussians got most of the military glory and proved to Germany that the new army could fight
War with Austria. The next step was to prove the same thing to the Austrians, who rather played into the hands of the Prussians by raising frivolous questions in the Diet of the Confederation. The Prussians had adopted as their service rifle a breech-loading weapon known as the needle-gun, with a range considerably beyond that of the oldfashioned smooth-bore musket. When a zealous young Austrian officer reported this fact to his superiors, the only answer was, "The serried battalions of Austria will sweep away those piff-paff soldiers like dust."
In 1866 the opportunity to sweep them away came about. Prussia forced the war, and was supported on the south by Italy ; and the actual hostilities lasted only about thirty days. At the battle of Koniggratz the Austrians could not get within range of those 'piff-paff soldiers," and their army was broken up. Meantime the old German Confederation had declared war on Prussia; as a result, Saxony, Hanover, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and Hesse put armies in the field. They were all defeated by the Prussians with their marvelous clock-work military system. General von Moltke came forward as the strategist without a peer, who laid out his campaigns in his study years in advance and saw them come out as he had designed.
Here came the critical moment in the combinations of Bismarck. The military authorities were determined to take a strip of the Bohemian frontier till the mighty man broke down in a torrent of weeping. To leave such a thorn in the side of the Austrians would, he declared, wreck all his plans. He brought conviction to William, and the only penalty exacted from Austria was an absolute retirement from German affairs, leaving Prussia free to make new arrangements.
North German Confederation. Inside Germany Bismarck was now free to make a new map. Hanover, Hesse, and the city of Frankfort were extinguished by annexing them to Prussia, which thus at last built the bridge from east to west. All the other states of Germany except Bavaria, Wurtem
berg, and Baden were incorporated into a North German Confederation, for which an elaborate federal constitution was drawn (1867). On every page can be seen the influence of the United States, and especially of the recent success of the American federation in subduing an attempt to break up the Union. A Bundesrath was set up which has some of the features of the United States Senate; and a Reichstag which much resembles the House of Representatives. When the question arose of suffrage for the Reichstag, the example of the United States prevailed. All grown men throughout the Confederation were entitled to vote at their places of residence. Prussia, though it had seven-eighths of the population of the new Federation, modestly accepted the dignity of the " Presidency." The new nation began to make treaties, to send ambassadors, and to organize the whole Federation into one customs system on the plan of the United States.
The French War. Still the work of unification was incomplete, for three independent South German states existed, subject to the influence of Austria on the east and PYance on the west. The Austrians took their medicine and set themselves to reorganizing their own Empire. Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, had steered a devious course. He could not fathom Bismarck's plans nor understand the adhesive spirit of the Germans, but he had a military force which might be used to prevent a conquest of South Germany by North Germany. The next step was, therefore, to put France into a condition in which she could no longer interfere with the complete union of the Germans. France was, or supposedly was, the strongest military power in Europe; but Prussia had no fear of a single-handed war. Austria deeply resented the failure of the French to aid them in 1866 and stood aloof. The South German states had their eyes opened when Bismarck laid before them certain propositions made by Napoleon looking toward an expansion of France at their expense. With or without immediate cause, Prussia was ready to strike at what it believed the only obstacle to a German nation.
An excuse arose in a trumpery quarrel over the supposed desire of Spain to take a king from one of the collateral branches of the Hohenzollern family. Bismarck made up his mind that the psychical moment had come, and deliberately telegraphed a clipped and roughened account of a supposed insult to the Emperor of Germany by the French Ambassador Benedetti. War was declared July 19, 1870, within thirteen days of the date when war again broke ort between France and Germany forty-four years later. The South German states were instantly swept into the struggle. ' Within six weeks the French Empire fell and a Republic was proclaimed. Within eight weeks began the siege of Paris, which lasted four months longer. Then the resistance of France was absolutely crushed. Before the new Germany could be constituted it had been enlarged by the annexation of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. ■
The German Empire. Territorially the work was done. All the German-speaking peoples of Europe, with the exception of a few in the Baltic provinces of Germany, the Austrians, and the northern Swiss, were now incorporated into one nation. It remained to give final shape to that combination. A communication was sent to King William of Prussia by the King of Bavaria (we now know that it was drawn up by Bismarck), asking him to become Emperor of Germany. The name corresponded with the dignity and traditions of the nation. On January 18,1871, in the great hall of the Palace at Versailles, then occupied by the German army, William formally took the Imperial crown under the title of " German Emperor." The Constitution of the North German Confederation was changed to correspond, though to the three South German states were left their postoffice, military organization in time of peace, and the barren right to exchange ministers and consuls with foreign countries. Bismarck's work seemed done; he had accomplished the impossible. He had not "restored " the German Empire, for never in its most glorious days had the Holy Roman Empire approached the strength and power of the new German combination. What he did was to place a new Empire alongside Russia and Austria-Hungary. He had made himself undeniably the greatest German since Charlemagne.
Effects of Unification. In reality, when the outside obstacles were all removed, new difficulties sprang up within the country. First of all came the opposition of economic forces; the Junker element was strong in the Imperial Government and insisted that its agricultural products should be protected by
a tariff. On the other side, new and vast manufacturing interests sprang up, and the operatives demanded cheap food. For Bismarck was created the great office of Chancellor of the Empire, the incumbent of which, under the Constitution, was "to be responsible." The Reichstag thought that meant that he was to be responsible to them and to resign if he could not accept their policy. He insisted that he was responsible to his Emperor alone. The Reichstag constantly brought forward the power of the civil government, while the Emperor and the Chancellor emphasized the military power.
Throughout the Empire, especially in the industrial centers and large cities, Socialists made great headway; they elected a group of members to the Reichstag and took it upon themselves to bait the Chancellor at every opportunity. As late as last year they elected a member from the district in which the Imperial residence is situated. The South German states and people felt submerged in the new Empire, for Prussia through its votes and those of the small states which it controls always has a majority in the Bundesrath, which means practically a veto on all measures; and the Emperor has in military matters another veto on all propositions to alter existing conditions.
Nevertheless great steps have been taken in the actual unification of the national aspirations of the Germans. Most of them are eager for colonies. If a poll could have been taken last July, it would probably have been found that most of them felt that Holland or Belgium or both were logically expansions of the German seacoast. All of them (except the three million Poles in the eastern provinces) believed that they had a mission to extend the German language, culture, prestige, and authority for the good of mankind. All of them recognized the dangerous situation of their fellow-Germans in Austria-Hungary. All of them stood ready at any time to accept the decision of their War Lord and his counselors that the country was in danger. No one can doubt that the German nation is completely unified in its determination to push the present war with every means, usual and unusual, for the defense of Fatherland and the expansion of the German Empire. Defeat would never destroy the German Empire or shake the unification of the German people.
BY C. A. HIBBARD
KAGOSHIMA, whose five hundred years of history boast many interesting events, is the old castle town of the Satsuma barons. Siturted at the southern extremity of the southernmost island of the Japanese archipelago, it is still free from many influences that have trammeled the feudalism of the other provinces. Here it was that, one evening soon after my arrival, I first made acquaintance with the sha, who may be called the Boy Scouts of feudal Japan.
Returning from a jaunt into the countryside, I found an unwonted bustle in the streets and was startled by an almost instantaneous bursting forth of flames in a score of places throughout the city. The first blaze proved to be a bonfire of torn and crippled paper umbrellas." It was surrounded by twenty or thirty boys, several of whom, as I approached, doffed their caps in salutation of their new teacher. "Good-evening, sensei." "Good-evening. Why the fires?" "Oh, it was this night, many years ago. a very brave deed was done," replied the eldest of the boys. "Yes. And what was the deed?" •• Well, a very bad man had killed a very good man named Soga. This Soga had two sons (we say Soga kyodai—Soga brothers, that means), and one dark night in spring—it was very, very dark night; the wind was very, very noisy—these brothers went out to kill the man who had killed their father." "And was this in Kagoshima?" "No. not Kagoshima—a small place near Mount Fuji. It was very dark, bad night, and these boys could not see to go to this bad man's house. They had no chochin—you known chochin? That is Japanese lantern »e use at night. They had no lantern, so they burned their paper umbrellas, and then they found this bad man's house and killed 'lim with their swords. So we on this day— always in fifth month—we burn kasa so'"We nit forget this brave deed. You like this vustom?"
"I think it is well to remember brave deeds of the past. But revenge—" and here I stopped, fearing the deep water ahead for a man attempting to explain to a Satsuma
youth that there are nobler forms of bravery than those prompted by revenge. "Does everyone in Japan do this on this evening?"
"Oh, no. Only in Kagoshima. The students in the sha do this. They like very much Soga kyodai."
This unique ceremony made me interested to learn something of the organization and purpose of an institution so evidently fostering the ideas of past centuries. . On leaving the academy grounds one afternoon. I caught up with a group of students swinging along in my direction. Each of the lads wore the skirt-like hakama and carried over his shoulder a fencing foil from which were suspended different fencing paraphernalia. To their polite salutation with removed caps I replied with the strictly Japanese greeting, " Where are you going?"
"To our sha, sir, for fencing."
"Well, that's good sport. Might I go with you?"
"Yes, please, only our sha is a very poor building and you will see nothing interesting there."
With this I fell in with them. After a few minutes' walk through the narrow streets lined by high stone walls in a manner peculiar to the southern city, we turned in through a gateway and entered a spacious compound which at the time presented a scene of pandemonium.
A lively place it is. The playground is full of lads clustered in groups around the contestants in their favorite sports. One group shuts in a couple of lithe-limbed lads, naked except for loin-cloths, who are tussling and tugging in the clumsy Japanese wrestling. In another section of the yard the jiu-jitsu enthusiasts are tripping and throwing each other silently, while the more noisy fencers scattered over the exercise ground are inclosed by little knots of spectators who every now and then give vent to short, jerky exclamations of encouragement and praise. Over all is heard the clash of the bamboo broadswords used by the combatants.
After a few interesting moments watching the different sports, my guides invited me to see their house. The building, a low, onestory structure of the customary Japanese style of architecture, was given over almost