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Title: The German Emperor as Shown in his Public Utterances

Author: Christian Gauss

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German Emperor

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Unlike his grandfather, who shielded himself behind his Chancellor, the present Emperor has always insisted upon making himself the storm-centre of the debates in his Reichstag and among his people. He has played with many, if not all, of his cards upon the table. In accordance with this policy he has gone through his country from end to end and into foreign lands, everywhere announcing his policies and his views on every possible subject of interest or controversy. Up to 1905 he had made upward of five hundred and seventy speeches, and since that time has made almost as many more. It was manifestly impossible to give all of these speeches, and it was also thought unfair to give merely extracts which might fail to represent the spirit of the entire pronouncement. They are all printed, therefore, in the completest form available. Particular speeches have often been reported to the press in widely differing versions. In all cases only those speeches are here presented which have received official or semiofficial sanction. The text[vi] followed for pronouncements made before 1913, with the one exception of the Daily Telegraph interview, October 29, 1908, has always been that of the recognized and standard edition in four volumes, edited by J. Penzler and published in the Reclam Universal-Bibliothek. Now and then only portions of certain addresses appear to have been reported, and on a few occasions parts of speeches are given directly and other parts are merely summarized. In all such cases the speech is translated from the form sanctioned in the official version. In no case has any change been made. Where significant differences exist in the versions of addresses as given officially and unofficially, the official version is in every instance printed first. It has been the aim to present faithfully the language and spirit of the speaker, and his phraseology and emphasis have been reproduced as closely as was at all consistent with fair English usage. The speeches have been chosen to represent in due proportion his many interests, and range therefore from agriculture and art to Biblical criticism, national and international politics.

The Emperor has, of course, not given titles to his speeches, and the headings have been assigned by the compiler. It has been his aim to explain the circumstances under which each ad[vii]dress was delivered and to make plain the references to events embodied therein. Questions which have had a continuous interest, or which have had some lasting effect on Germany’s policy, such as the attitude toward Alsace-Lorraine, the Social Democratic party, the retirement of Bismarck, the development of the navy, the Morocco question, have been treated at greater length on the first fitting occasion. For the introductions, therefore, the compiler assumes responsibility. In preparing them he has had recourse to many incidental sources of information, and in many cases the true inwardness of certain situations is still as much a matter of controversy as the causes of the present war. For his facts generally, he has followed where possible, besides such incidental and contemporary sources, Bruno Gebhardt’s “Handbuch der Deutschen Geschichte” (1913), the “Cambridge Modern History—The Latest Age,” volume XII (1910), and the volumes of the “Statesman’s Yearbook.” In addition, for information concerning the internal development of Germany he has consulted and drawn upon the literature of this subject which has appeared in the last decade, but is more particularly indebted to Doctor Paul Liman’s “Der Kaiser,” Dawson’s “The Evolution of Modern Germany,” Barker’s “Modern Germany,” Price Collier’s “Germany[viii] and the Germans,” Forbes’s “William of Germany,” Gibbons’s “The New Map of Europe,” and the “Reichsgesetzblatt.”

As the Emperor has spoken upon almost every phase of German political life, with the editorial introductions which aim to set forth briefly the occasion and causes of each address, it is hoped that altogether the volume will offer a fairly accurate picture of the trend of German affairs for the last twenty-five years.

For help in the preparation of this volume, the writer is much indebted to his wife, whose assistance has amounted to collaboration.

Princeton, N. J.

December 20, 1914.



The Hohenzollern Tradition1
June 15, 1888—October 30, 1889.
The First Official Act of the Emperor
Schloss Friedrichskron, June 15, 1888.
To My People
Potsdam, June 18, 1888.
First Declaration of Policy
Berlin, June 25, 1888.
Opening of the Reichstag
November 22, 1888.
The Emperor and the Striking Miners
May 14, 1889.
Visit of the King of Italy
Berlin, May 22, 1889.
The English Fleet and the German Army
Sandown Bay, August 5, 1889.
[x]The English Army
Aldershot, August 7, 1889.
The Czar at Berlin
Berlin, October 11, 1889.
On Board an English Flag-Ship
The Piræus, October 30, 1889.
After Bismarck
May 6, 1890—June 21, 1895.
Opening of the Reichstag
Berlin, May 6, 1890.
Review of the Ninth Army Corps
Flensburg, September 4, 1890.
Accidents with Agricultural Machinery
Berlin, November 11, 1890.
Berlin, March 14, 1891.
Swearing in the Recruits
Potsdam, November 23, 1891.
The Emperor’s First Army Bill
Berlin, July 4, 1893.
Arrival in Metz
Metz, September 3, 1893.
Dedication of Flags
Berlin, October 18, 1894.
Navy Recruits
Kiel, December 3, 1894.
[xi]Christening of a Cruiser
Kiel, March 26, 1895.
Visit to Bismarck
Friedrichsruh, March 26, 1895.
Opening of the Emperor William Canal
Kiel, June 21, 1895.
The Beginning of World Politics
June 16, 1896—March 22, 1905.
The Beginning of World Politics
Berlin, June 16, 1896.
To the Recruits for the Navy
Wilhelmshaven, February 21, 1896.
A Toast to the Russian Emperor and Empress
St. Petersburg, August 8, 1897.
The Army Tradition
Coblentz, August 30, 1897.
Toast to the Italian King and Queen
Homburg, September 4, 1897.
Address at a Dedication of Flags
Berlin, October 18, 1897.
On Administering the Oath to the Recruits
Berlin, November 18, 1897.
The Chinese Situation and the Mailed Fist
December 15, 1897.
Address to the Regiments of the Body-Guard
Potsdam, June 16, 1898.
[xii]On the Death of Prince Bismarck
Friedrichsruh, August 2, 1898.
“Our Future Lies Upon the Water”
Stettin, September 23, 1898.
The Journey to the Holy Land
Bethlehem, October 30, 1898.
Dedication of the Church of Our Redeemer
Jerusalem, October 31, 1898.
By Divine Right
Brandenburg, February 3, 1899.
The Hague Conference
Wiesbaden, May 18, 1899.
The Housing of Laborers
Early June, 1899.
French Heroism at St. Privat
The Battle-field of St. Privat, August 18, 1899.
The Greater Navy147
“Bitterly We Need a Powerful German Fleet”
Hamburg, October 18, 1899.
On the Threshold of the New Century
Berlin, January 1, 1900.
New Boundary Posts
Berlin, February 13, 1900.
Seaports and Cannon
Lübeck, June 16, 1900.
[xiii]The Ocean Knocks at Our Door
Kiel, July 3, 1900.
Open the Way for Culture
Bremen, July 27, 1900.
Civis Romanus Sum
Imperial Limes Museum, Saalburg, October 11, 1900.
Cabinet Order to the Prussian Army
January, 1901.
Dedication of the Barracks of the Alexander Regiment
March 28, 1901.
To the Students at Bonn
April 24, 1901.
A Place in the Sun
Hamburg, June 18, 1901.
The Great Elector
Kiel, June 20, 1901.
Entrance of Prince Eitel Friedrich into the Army
July 7, 1901.
True Art
Berlin, December 18, 1901.
Monument to General von Rosenberg
April 20, 1902.
The Old Order Changeth
Aix, June 19, 1902.
Alfred Krupp and the Socialists
November 26, 1902.
The Working Man Once More
Breslau, December 5, 1902.
[xiv]Scholarship and Religion
Berlin, February 15, 1903.
Frederick the Great and His Army
Döberitz, May 29, 1903.
The Future of Germany
Hamburg, June 20, 1903.
The Reasons for Japan’s Victory
March 9, 1905.
The Salt of the Earth
Bremen, March 22, 1905.
On the Eve of Morocco
March 31, 1905—November 12, 1906.
The Morocco Question
Tangier, March 31, 1905.
The Great Ally
September 8, 1906.
Optimism and Literature
Münich, November 12, 1906.
Twenty-Five Years of Labor Legislation
November 17, 1896.
The Crisis of 1907
February 5, 1907—October 18, 1911.
Imperialism versus Social Democracy
Berlin, February 5, 1907.
[xv]The Necessity of Faith
Münster, August 31, 1907.
English Journalists
London, November 16, 1907.
Strasburg, August 30, 1908.
The Daily Telegraph Interview
October 28, 1908.
The Emperor and Count Zeppelin
Manzell, November 10, 1908.
Regatta at Hamburg
Hamburg, June 22, 1909.
Review of the Fourteenth Army Corps
Karlsruhe, September 11, 1909.
Emperor by Divine Right
Königsberg, August 25, 1910.
The Hundredth Anniversary of the Founding of the University of Berlin
Berlin, October 11, 1910.
The Emperor in Brussels
October 27, 1910.
Alcohol and the Schools
Cassel, August 19, 1911.
International Competition
Hamburg, August 27, 1911.
Imperial Glories
Aix, October 18, 1911.
Last Months of Peace
February 7, 1912—June 23, 1914.
Opening of the Reichstag
Berlin, February 7, 1912.
Brandenburg Once Again
May 30, 1912.
Hauling Down the Flag
Hamburg, June 18, 1912.
Accident to a Zeppelin
Bonn, October 17, 1913.
We Germans Fear God, Nothing Else
Hamburg, June 23, 1914.
At the Outbreak of the War323
Forcing the Sword into His Hand
Berlin, July 31, 1914.
An End of Parties
Berlin, August 1, 1914.
Opening of the Reichstag
Berlin, August 4, 1914.
To the Army and Navy
Berlin, August 6, 1914.
Proclamation to the German People
Berlin, August 6, 1914.



William II, German EmperorFrontispiece
The Emperor in the Year of His Coronation, 1888 (Age 29)26
“Our Future Lies upon the Water.” The Emperor on Shipboard in the Autumn of 1898126
The Emperor in 1900168



Ernest Renan, the author of that once heretical “Life of Jesus,” was by temperament unenthusiastic and had further schooled himself to look upon all human events with high unconcern. The great sceptic had been born in 1823; he was therefore sixty-five at the time of the accession of William II, and his declining health, in Horatian phrase, refused to allow him to enter upon any long hope. In looking forward to his inevitable end one thing, he said, afflicted him. He regretted only that he was not to see, in its later and more decisive phases, the unfolding of the multiform personality of the new German Emperor. To him it was an intellectual puzzle, more intricate and more interesting than any he had encountered in the many cycles of the history of the Hebrews or in the complicated schisms of the church. In the early years of his reign the youthful Emperor was regarded with much in[2]terest and some concern by his contemporaries generally. He was the chameleon among the royal figures of Europe. One day he receives the Czar at Berlin and proclaims peace to the world. A few weeks later he visits the Sultan at Constantinople, and shortly thereafter he announces to his loyal Brandenburgers that he will lead them on to greater things. What did he mean? Now he is a soldier, jesting with his officers; and, with the rising of another sun, in workman’s garb, with the axe upon his shoulder, he goes forth as woodman or laborer on his own estates. At home he was regarded as Benjamin Constant regarded Madame de Staël. He was the “bel orage,” the beautiful storm which had come upon Europe in the dull and piping times of peace of the last decades of the nineteenth century. He cleared the air of Continental politics in the years of late Victorianism. He was a dilettante of dangerous activities, as Renan had been of antiquated heresies and harmless, outworn systems, and to him Fate seemed to have given the future as a toy. Such, at least, was the view of the famous Portuguese poet Eça de Queiroz, who cast his horoscope in 1891.

A quarter century of peace had removed much apprehension. After the dismissal of Bismarck he had shaped his own policy and gone his own[3] way. To his great advisers he had seemed to say: “Ôte-toi que je m’y mette.” Yet his career had ceased to disquiet, and the youthful exuberance had given way to mature and conscientious labor. With unshakable confidence in himself and with a determined application he was making Germany the greatest state in Europe. To those who, unlike Renan, did not have the misfortune to have been born too soon to be his later contemporaries, the riddle seemed to be solving itself to the greater good of humanity. The Emperor’s army, so he tells us himself, is invincible. Never has Germany been defeated so long as she was united, and God, who has taken such infinite pains with us, will never leave us “in the lurch.” By means of this powerful, unconquerable army, at whose side he had now set one of the greatest fleets on the seas, he had, so he told us, laid firm and sure the foundations of peace.

Then suddenly “the abyss is opened, ... the sword is thrust into his hand,” and reluctantly and with a heavy heart he goes forth to do battle. Like a shuttle he flits from frontier to frontier, now planning an invasion of England, now supervising the readministration of Belgian industries, and now directing a battle in Poland. Surely such a destiny, so immense a power, has been granted to no man. It may be he is the[4] great predestined victim; it may be that Time is preparing for him a final and well-earned European triumph.

What shall be the end, and where lies the responsibility? No ethical or political problem of our time forces itself upon us with greater insistence. His utterances may help to make the question if not the answer clear. Looking forward dispassionately twenty-three years ago that Portuguese student prophesied that this could not last, that there would be war; and in the light of later events that prophecy about “the allied armies” has been recently recalled. It was in these words that he closed his brilliant study of the youthful Emperor and King:

“William II runs the awful danger of being cast down Gemoniæ. He boldly takes upon himself responsibilities which in all nations are divided among various bodies of the state—he alone judges, he alone executes, because to him alone it is (not to his ministers, to his council, or to his parliament) that God, the God of the Hohenzollerns, imparts his transcendental inspiration. He must therefore be infallible and invincible. At the first disaster—whether it be inflicted by his burghers or by his people in the streets of Berlin, or by allied armies on the plains of Europe—Germany will at once conclude that[5] his much-vaunted alliance with God was the trick of a wily despot.

“Then will there not be stones enough from Lorraine to Pomerania to stone this counterfeit Moses. William II is in very truth casting against fate those terrible ‘iron dice’ to which the now-forgotten Bismarck once alluded. If he win he may have within and without the frontiers altars such as were raised to Augustus; should he lose, exile, the traditional exile, in England awaits him—a degraded exile, the exile with which he so sternly threatens those who deny his infallibility.

“M. Renan is therefore quite right: there is nothing more attractive at this period of the century than to witness the final development of William II. In the course of years (may God make them slow and lengthy!) this youth, ardent, pleasing, fertile in imagination, of sincere, perhaps heroic, soul, may be sitting in calm majesty in his Berlin Schloss presiding over the destinies of Europe—or he may be in the Hôtel Métropole in London sadly unpacking from his exile’s handbag the battered double crown of Prussia and Germany.”

This drama of a life is twenty-three years nearer its climax than it was when Renan bade[6] the world good night. With a certain finality of pathos a Greek poet whom Renan loved, thinking doubtless of his unhappy countrymen who had fallen in the long wars between Athens and Sparta, had said: “They that have died are not sick, nor do they possess any evil things.” If this be true, quite possibly, then, the world was kinder to this aged Frenchman than he shall ever know. For the disasters which were to follow the rising star of the Emperor, which he regarded so curiously, were to be far greater than he had ever dreamed. It may be, therefore, that it is he and not some of his younger countrymen who are to be congratulated on the bournes which marked the time of his coming and his passing.

The question of the responsibility of the Emperor and the limits of his power is one which perhaps only time can decide. Undeniably Germany has a written Constitution. But that Constitution is of comparatively recent date (April 16, 1871). It is not looked upon, as is the American Constitution, as the source of Germany’s political life. It is the empire and not the Constitution that is holy. Struggles for personal liberty find little place in the history of Prussia. They have no Cromwell, no Washington, no Robespierre, and, significantly too, they have had in times past no Ravaillac and no Guiteau. There, still, a[7] certain majesty doth hedge about a king. The old idea of fealty, of deutsche Treue, which led the retainers of Teutonic chiefs or rulers to submit uncomplainingly to every abuse and all oppression and to follow their lords into misfortune and into exile, though it has doubtless waned, nevertheless retains some vestiges of its traditional force even to-day.

When, therefore, in 1878, by a curious coincidence, two attempts were made upon the life of Emperor William I (one by Hödel, an irresponsible person of diseased mind and body, who had been dismissed from the Social Democratic party; and another by Nobiling, who was not a Social Democrat), Bismarck immediately and easily seized this occasion to crush Social Democracy and increase the imperial power. He dissolved the Reichstag, and in one month the law-courts inflicted no less than five hundred years of imprisonment for lèse-majesté. Within eight months the authorities dissolved two hundred and twenty-two workingmen’s unions, suppressed one hundred and twenty-seven periodical and two hundred and seventy-eight other publications, and innumerable bona-fide co-operative societies were compelled by the police to close their doors without trial and with no possibility of appeal. With equal despatch numerous Social Democrats were[8] expelled from Germany on a few days’ notice. This traditional attitude toward the Social Democrat, who from our standpoint is the German radical and liberal, appears again in the present Emperor when he declares (May 14, 1889) that every Social Democrat is synonymous with enemy of the country. How Social Democracy has grown in spite of the Emperor’s attempt to check it will be evident from a consideration of the following figures, in which the forty political parties are grouped into their four larger divisions:

1871 1881 1893 1907 1912
Right, or Conservative 895,0001,210,0001,806,0002,151,0001,149,916
Clerical 973,0001,618,0001,920,0002,779,0002,012,990
Social Democrats 124,000 312,0001,787,0003,259,0004,238,919

In spite of this representation in the Reichstag, the power of the German political parties is slight. The power lies far more with the Emperor and the Bundesrat. According to Article II of the Constitution, the Emperor represents the empire internationally and can declare war if defensive (in German eyes the present is a defensive war), can make peace as well as enter into treaties with other nations, and appoint and receive ambas[9]sadors. When treaties are related to matters regulated by imperial legislation, and when war is not merely defensive, the Emperor must have the consent of the Bundesrat, in which, together with the Reichstag, are vested the legislative functions of the empire. But de facto, and through her power of veto, Prussia controls the Bundesrat, and as King of Prussia the Emperor controls Prussia.

That, even so, the Constitution is not the real and final source of political power, but a convenient political instrument, which in the mind of so great an authority as Bismarck might still easily be changed without consulting the people, we may gather from the fact that the Great Chancellor frequently debated the question of limiting the suffrage. “The blind Hödhur[1] [the German elector] does not know how to manipulate in his coarse hands the Nuremberg toy [the Reichstag] which I gave him, and through his voting he is ruining the Fatherland.” According to Hohenlohe, Bismarck considered setting aside the Reichstag and returning to the old Bundestag.

[1] In Norse mythology Hödhur was the powerful blind god who slew Balder.

The late Price Collier, an enthusiastic admirer of Germany, is therefore quite justified in saying: “This Reichstag is really only nominally a por[10]tion of the governing body. It has the right to refuse a bill presented by the government, but if it does so it may be summarily dismissed, as has happened several times, and another election usually provides a more amenable body.” And if the following judgment seems somewhat downright, it is none the less substantially true:

“The fact that the members of the Reichstag are not in the saddle but are used unwillingly and often contemptuously as a necessary and often stubborn and unruly pack-animal by the Kaiser-appointed ministers, the fact that they are pricked forward or induced to move by a tempting feed held just beyond the nose has something to do, no doubt, with the lack of unanimity which exists. The diverse elements debate with one another and waste their energy in rebukes and recriminations which lead nowhere and result in nothing. I have listened to many debates in the Reichstag where the one aim of the speeches seemed to be merely to unburden the soul of the speaker. He had no plan, no proposal, no solution, merely a confession to make. After forty-odd years the Germans, in many ways the most cultivated nation in the world, are still without real representative government.”

History, to be sure, may be read in many ways, but from one standpoint it is perfectly possible to[11] regard the framing of the present Constitution and the building up of the present German Empire not as the last stage in the attempt to give freedom and self-government to the German people, but to guarantee and maintain the supremacy of Prussia. Whether or not this is a possible view, it is, in any case, one occasionally to be found implied in the speeches of the Emperor, and it came to open expression in the statement of William I that the empire was merely a “greater Prussia.” So, too, when a few years ago Alsace-Lorraine proved itself recalcitrant to the wishes of its imperial master, he threatened that he would make of it a “Prussian province.”[2]

[2] On this occasion a Socialist orator declared in the Reichstag: “We salute the imperial words as the confession, full of weight and coming from a competent source, that annexation to Prussia is the heaviest punishment that one can threaten to impose upon a people for its resistance against Germany. It is a punishment like hard labor in the penitentiary, with loss of civil rights.”

It need, therefore, not appear as startling as would otherwise be the case if on occasions which to us would seem peculiarly appropriate (as, for instance, the famous Königsberg speech, August 25, 1910) the Emperor makes no mention whatever of the Constitution. The sources of his power and the sanction for his authority he finds not in this instrument but in the history of his ancestors.

To understand the personality and the speeches[12] of the Emperor it is, therefore, necessary to recall that he is also King of Prussia and that the foundation of his ancestors’ rule was laid in the province of Brandenburg, of which they became some centuries ago the margraves and electors. In 1300 Prussia was a wilderness inhabited by savages who were ruthlessly massacred by the Teutonic knights. It was looked upon as lying outside the German Empire. Through the knights the country was converted to Christianity, and the reduced native population was largely augmented by immigration from other German states.

Although the Emperor is not slow to accept traditions with regard to his house, he never mentions the old shoot in the genealogical tree of an elector which carries us back to one of the fugitives who fled from Troy with Æneas. For our purposes, it was not until 1273 that a count of Hohenzollern first came into prominence, when, after a fortunate marriage, he became burgrave of Nuremberg and prince of the Holy Roman Empire. With the exception of Frederick William II, they have been a thrifty race. A little more than a century later there appears in history that one of the Emperor’s ancestors to whom he frequently refers as the founder of his house and that one who began to acquire for it divine right.

Frederick VI of Hohenzollern had already come[13] into prominence through the fact that he had cast in his lot with King Sigismund of Hungary. The services which he rendered the King, however valuable, were not altogether disinterested, and it is said that he largely increased his fortune thereby. He seems not to have been content with mere promises, and it is a matter of record that Sigismund pledged to him certain districts in Hungary as security for 40,000 gulden. As Frederick was to lay the foundation for the greatness of the house of Hohenzollern and as Emperor William is fond of repeating that he came to Brandenburg in obedience to a summons from on high, this chapter in the history of the Emperor’s house is particularly significant and interesting.

For some time previously Brandenburg had been unfortunate in its rulers and had frequently changed hands. In 1373 it had been sold for 500,000 gulden to Emperor Charles IV, who turned it over to his son Wenceslaus. In 1378 it passed to Wenceslaus’ half brother, the Sigismund mentioned above. Sigismund was in financial difficulty. A few years later, therefore, he pledged the mark of Brandenburg to his cousins Jobst and Procop of Moravia as security for a loan of 500,000 gulden. Sigismund defaulted payment in 1393, so that the margraviate passed to them. In 1410 Sigismund eagerly de[14]sired to be elected Emperor of Germany. He entrusted the management of what might quite properly be called his “campaign” to Frederick of Hohenzollern. Jobst of Moravia, who, as we have seen, now had claims to Brandenburg was a rival candidate. Sigismund, without deigning to make repayment, coolly declared that the transaction with Jobst concerning Brandenburg was null and void and instructed Frederick to cast the vote for the mark. To this vote Frederick clearly (if anything in these complicated proceedings is clear) had no right. He none the less managed the campaign and in a “snap” election cast the vote of Brandenburg with assurance. This at least was the view of other electors, and this high-handed performance did not meet with their approval. They called a rival council and elected Jobst to the imperial dignity. For both Sigismund and Frederick it was “fortunate” (we take the word from the Prussian historian Eberty) that Jobst died shortly after. It is perhaps unfortunate that it should have been suspected ever since that he died of poison.

Sigismund himself seems to have been somewhat doubtful about the validity of that election which Frederick had compassed and after the death of Jobst had himself re-elected and was finally acknowledged as Emperor. If the times[15] were bad, Sigismund and Jobst were no better than their times. It was this same Sigismund who, after having granted a safe conduct to the great reformer John Huss, allowed him to be judicially murdered, a proceeding which made even Charles V blush for the empire.

For the purpose of electing Sigismund, Frederick had incurred considerable expense, amounting to some hundred thousand gulden. It is perhaps again fortunate for all concerned and for the honor of the venal empire that no bill of particulars specifying the uses of this fund is now available, if any was ever rendered. That Frederick, however, had not served Sigismund “pour l’amour de Dieu” is plain from the fact that he again took security for his advances. This time he was given the unhappy mark of Brandenburg which, as we have seen, had belonged to Jobst by virtue of a mortgage which Sigismund had never taken the trouble to discharge.

If, then, the law of God is at all similar to the law recognized by men, Sigismund had no right to give and the ancestor of William II no legal right to accept that province. The right by which Frederick came into possession of this first state of the later German Empire was, consequently, a right quite different from rights generally recognized. This, therefore, must be that “divine right”[16] which William II is so fond of proclaiming. At its best, the document of June 7, 1411, which gave the Hohenzollerns their first claim to their first province was in reality a mortgage to a piece of property of doubtful title, and if the rather florid style of that document seems to bring in the business transaction as something quite incidental, it is altogether similar to the forms in which other mortgages were couched in those days. That this was so is further evidenced by the fact that the Brandenburg cities looked upon Frederick as the holder of a mortgage and did homage to him “zu seinem Gelde”—“for his money”; that is, they recognized that they were bound to him only until he should be paid. The nobles did not do homage to him at all. After “the rain of margraves” of the previous decades, it is not strange that they should have been slow to recognize their latest overlord. Emperor William II is, therefore, quite right when he describes the mark of May, 1412, as devastated, unruly, and altogether unpromising. It could hardly have been otherwise. Before Frederick was invested with Brandenburg (and he was formally invested only after a further payment of 400,000 gulden), in 1417, his princely possessions included merely partial claims to smaller districts like Ansbach and Bayreuth, which he shared with his brother[17] John. In spite of Frederick of Hohenzollern’s devotion to the cause of religion, the Shakespearean motto, “Thrift, thrift, Horatio,” may be taken to explain satisfactorily his conduct in this regard. That the nobles would be unruly he must have expected. His own activities and his acceptance of the mark had helped to make them so. Frederick’s later service consisted in dispelling a confusion which he had helped to create.

In these larger transactions the first great Hohenzollern does not seem to have been given to listening to the still small voice. Incidentally, he was later to turn against Sigismund. The assumption, therefore, that he left his southern home for the mark out of heed for a divine call, as Emperor William in his speech of February 3, 1899, tells us that he did, is historically, like Laplace’s God, a useless hypothesis. Self-interest, for which he seems to have had a fairly keen sense, would have impelled him to do no less. Yet it is upon the faits et gestes of Frederick of Hohenzollern that Emperor William II bases his claims to rule Germany by divine right.

As we have seen, the mortgage was not discharged, and Frederick had been formally invested with the margraviate and electorship in 1417. He lifted the mark out of the deplorable condition in which he found it, compelled obedience, and[18] during the period of his rule—he died in 1440—its lot was much improved and the power of the house of Hohenzollern much strengthened. History must give him credit for his ability and his difficult achievement if not for his motives.

In the process of establishing himself, his rule, like that of his successors was the rule of the sword and his policy the Machtpolitik, or policy of force. In spite of her comparative poverty, therefore, Prussia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries maintained an army larger than that of Austria or France. The connection between the ruler and the army in a state which was founded and maintained by force of arms was, therefore, and remains in modern Prussia so close that the Emperor is from the standpoint of tradition justified in repeating that “the only pillar on which the empire rests is the army.” It was literally ein Volk in Waffen, a people in arms. The first really outstanding ruler of the province was the Great Elector (1620-88), who has always been cited by William II as his model and of whom he speaks with a respect that amounts to veneration.

He was born in Berlin and, after passing part of his youth in the Netherlands, became ruler of Brandenburg and Prussia in 1640, before the close of the Thirty Years’ War. He restored the[19] prestige of the army and centralized the government and, we are informed by recognized authorities, by a clever but unscrupulous use of his intermediate position between Sweden and Poland, procured his recognition as an independent Duke of Prussia by both powers and eventually succeeded in crushing the stubborn and protracted opposition which was offered to his authority by the estates of the duchy. His success in organizing the army was proved by his great victory over the Swedes at Fehrbellin, 1675.

From childhood the Emperor has worshipped the Great Elector as his favorite hero. In their policies there is a striking similarity, for the elector was the first to recognize the importance of sea power and is praised by William II for having founded the Prussian navy and for having encouraged commerce. He built the first great German canal, from the Oder to the Spree (another lead which the present Emperor was to follow), and he inaugurated the colonial policy by founding a settlement on the west African coast. This, likewise, was to be revived by the present Emperor, for it was allowed to lapse even under Frederick the Great, who considered a “village on the frontier” a much greater asset than a state oversea. The aim of the Great Elector was to make himself an absolute ruler, as he regarded[20] this best for the internal and external welfare of the state. But he raised Brandenburg and Prussia to a high place and laid the basis of their later power.

Under these lords and their followers the progress of Prussia was amazingly rapid. In 1650, when London and Paris were cities of a little more or less than half a million inhabitants and Amsterdam counted 300,000, Berlin was a village of 10,000. The population of Prussia itself, which, to be sure, had been more than doubled in size, increased from 1,500,000 in 1688 to 19,000,000 in 1865. It was in the time of Frederick the Great, however, that her power as a state was first firmly established. His military genius (he is usually said to have originated “the oblique order” of battle) and his policy of dissimulation here stood him in good stead. He sowed discord among his neighbors and awaited the favorable opportunity to attack even on very slight pretexts and in the case of Silesia without the formality of a declaration of war. Like William II, he was a patron of the arts and sciences and invited noted littérateurs and scientists, especially Frenchmen, to his court. The scientist Maupertuis and Voltaire were his protégés, and the exiled Rousseau for a time found refuge in his domains. He himself wrote in French. It is probably because of[21] his French sympathies and the fact that he was, in this regard, not a kerndeutscher Mann that William II rarely speaks of him personally and mentions usually only his services to his country.

Frederick died in 1786. He had raised Prussia to the position of a first-rate power and, in Disraeli’s phrase, left it “regarded if not respected.” His successor, Frederick William II, is remembered mostly because of the scandalous character of his life, and he showed none of the characteristics of the energetic Hohenzollerns. A contemporary says of him: “He bears the greatest resemblance to an Asiatic prince, who, living within his harem with his slaves of both sexes, leaves the business of the state to his viziers. The wall, twelve feet in height, by which the new garden at Potsdam is enclosed, reminds one of the enclosure of a seraglio.” He was succeeded by his son, Frederick William III, in 1797. This conscientious but ill-starred ruler was to be rendered famous through his misfortunes in the time of Napoleon and has been overshadowed somewhat in history by his beautiful, devoted, and heroic wife Louise. They stand closer to modern history than is generally realized. The present Emperor often mentions them for their heroism and the brave part they played in the War of Liberation and in freeing their country from the incubus of the Napoleonic[22] Empire. They were the parents of Emperor William I, the illustrious grandfather of the present sovereign. If, then, Emperor William II frequently takes occasion to recall the memory of 1813 it should be remembered that in his own family these events were very near to him, since his grandfather had spent his childhood in those years of humiliation and had served in the allied armies in the time of Napoleon. The man who was to become Emperor William I had been born as the second son of Frederick William III in 1797. He was to be preceded on the throne by his elder brother, Frederick William IV, who, like the present Emperor and like Frederick the Great, was an accomplished lover of the arts, but who lacked the strength to guide his country with a sure hand through the troubled years of the forties. He became afflicted in his last years with hopeless mental disease, and his brother, after having served as regent, became King of Prussia as William I in 1861.

The idea of uniting Germany into a single empire had already been seriously agitated in the time of Frederick William IV, but it was under his brother, largely through the tireless activity and wonderfully successful diplomacy of Bismarck, that this great aim was to be achieved in the lifetime of the present Emperor. It was in[23] the chapel at Königsberg that William I arranged for and held his coronation. He cannot be said to have been crowned; for although his brother had granted Prussia a constitution William himself raised the crown from the altar, set it on his own head, and announced in a loud voice: “I receive this crown from God’s hand and from none other.”

It was such a legacy that the present Emperor inherited when, after the few months’ reign of his father, he succeeded to the imperial office; and it is this legacy and this tradition which, in fairness to the Emperor, we must remember in reading such seemingly strange pronouncements as his own address at Königsberg in 1910.

The later events in German history and the subsequent policies of the empire are touched upon in such detail that further preamble is hardly necessary. That the Emperor has everywhere energetically taken the lead is undoubted. That he should be held responsible in general for German diplomacy is implied in his position. That he has urged and directed the movement in nearly every field of endeavor is plain from the varied character of his addresses. No one can doubt after reading him that he desired peace, in the sense that he preferred peace to war. The question that will undoubtedly interest the reader[24] most is the problem of the consistency of his various policies; whether, for instance, the exaggerated worship of the army, the devout desire for peace, and the insistent imperialism of his later years can be brought into harmony; whether they can be reduced to any common denominator. However that may be, that he has been one of the most devoted and conscientious servants of the German cause as he sees it cannot possibly be denied.



June 15, 1888—October 30, 1889


Schloss Friedrichskron, June 15, 1888

The aged Emperor William I, grandfather of William II, departed this life March 9, 1888. He was succeeded by his son, Frederick III, who, after a reign of only a few months, died on June 15 of the same year. The present Emperor, who was born on January 27, 1859, was, therefore, twenty-nine at the time of his accession to the throne. It is characteristic that his first official act should have been an order to the army.

The close connection between the army and the Prussian Kings is a tradition which William II sedulously maintained. In later speeches he will frequently give evidence of this desire on his part and will quote characteristic sayings of his ancestors to the effect that the army is the “rocher de bronze,” that it is “the only pillar on which the empire rests.” He will repeat to the army officers that phrase of his grandfather: “These are the gentlemen upon whom I can rely.”


If the extraordinary versatility of William II is one of his most striking qualities, a reading of his speeches will convince us that it is none the less true that he is first and foremost a soldier. By far the great majority of his speeches are on military occasions, and it is the martial triumphs of his ancestors that he is most fond of commemorating. He seems to be most at home with his officers, and although at one time or another differences have arisen between him and every party or caste in the empire, even including the Prussian nobility, this close relationship with the army has never been clouded by even a momentary estrangement. More than any other one subject, army reviews have provided the occasion for his speeches. If but a few of these are given here it is because his sentiments in this regard have suffered no change and these addresses are largely repetitions of his sense of satisfaction and the expression of his good-will. That he intended to be the virtual leader of his own host is perhaps best indicated by the fact that Von Moltke (who was, to be sure, an old man) resigned six weeks after his accession to the throne. The present war has proved his capacity in this regard, and the army has certainly lost nothing in efficiency and has probably gained somewhat in confidence since he took over the direction from his ancestors and their advisers. The present order was issued on the very day of his father’s death. On that same date a somewhat similar proclamation was addressed to the navy.


[Age 29]


Even ere you, my troops, had put aside the external signs of mourning for your Emperor and King, William I, who lives ever in your hearts, you are called upon to suffer another heavy blow through the death this morning, at five minutes past eleven, of my dear and deeply beloved father, his Majesty, the Emperor and King, Frederick III.

It is in these serious days of mourning that God’s will places me at the head of the army, and it is from a heart stirred deeply, indeed, that I address my first words to my troops.

I enter with implicit confidence, however, upon this duty to which God has called me; for I know what a sense for honor and duty has been implanted in the army by my glorious ancestors, and I know to what degree this sense has ever and at all times displayed itself.

The absolutely inviolable dependence upon the war lord [Kriegsherr] is, in the army, the inheritance which descends from father to son, from generation to generation. I would direct your gaze to my grandfather, who stands before the eyes of all of you, the glorious war lord, worthy of all honor—a spectacle more beautiful than any other and one which speaks most tellingly to our hearts; I would direct your gaze to my dear father, who even as Crown Prince won for himself[28] a distinguished place in the annals of the army, and to a long succession of famous ancestors whose names are resplendent in history and whose hearts beat warmly for the army.

So are we bound together—I and the army—so are we born for one another, and so shall we hold together indissolubly, whether, as God wills, we are to have peace or storm.

You are now about to swear to me the oath of fidelity and obedience, and I vow that I shall ever be mindful of the fact that the eyes of my forefathers look down upon me from that other world and that I one day shall have to render up to them an account of the fame and the honor of the army.


Castle Friedrichskron, June 15, 1888.


Potsdam, June 18, 1888

Three days after his pronouncements to the army and navy Emperor William II issued the following proclamation to his people. In temperament the son was quite unlike his father. The wife of Frederick I and the mother of the present Emperor was an English princess, Victoria (daughter of Queen Victoria), and through her Frederick is generally said to have been influenced by the[29] more liberal English tradition. Critics of William II have occasionally annoyed him by repeating, justly or unjustly, that his father regarded certain elements in his character with disapproval. However that may be, it is true that the people regarded Frederick in a different light from that in which they have come to regard his son. In reading the speeches of William II one is conscious of the fact that he is speaking from a certain eminence, that the Emperor never forgets that he enjoys the advantage of position. He has, therefore, put between himself and his people a certain distance which did not exist in the case of his father. The father treated his subjects as if he were one of them, and it is this fact that led them fondly to call him “Unser Fritz.” However great the respect which they feel for the son, none of his subjects would think of bestowing any such title on William II, and, even if they did, it is doubtful whether he would feel in any way complimented thereby. He is in this respect more like his ancestor Frederick the Great than like his father or grandfather, and it is a striking fact that in all his speeches he never once mentions this somewhat familiar title, of which his father was proud.

God has again hung about us the pall of deepest mourning. Hardly had the grave closed upon my ever-memorable grandfather, than his Majesty, my dearly beloved father, was called from this[30] earthly sojourn to everlasting peace. The heroic energy, born of Christian humility, with which, unmindful of his sufferings, he accomplished his royal duties seemed to leave room for the hope that he would be spared still longer to the Fatherland. God has willed it otherwise. To the royal sufferer whose heart was moved by all that was great and beautiful, only a few months were allotted in which he might display upon the throne the noble qualities of heart and soul which have won for him the love of his people. The virtues which adorned him and the victories which he gained on fields of battle will be gratefully remembered as long as German hearts beat, and undying fame will illumine his knightly figure in the history of the Fatherland.

Called to the throne of my fathers, I have taken over the government, looking to the King of all kings, and have vowed to God, following the example of my father, to be a righteous and gentle prince, to foster piety and the fear of God, to maintain peace, to further the welfare of the country, to be a help to the poor and oppressed, and to be to the righteous man a true protector.

If I pray God for strength to fulfil these royal duties which He has laid upon me, I am buoyed up by that faith in the Prussian people which a consideration of our past history confirms in me.[31] In good and in evil days Prussia’s people have ever stood faithfully to their kings. I, too, count upon this fidelity, which has ever been preserved inviolable toward my fathers in all times of trial and danger; for I am conscious that I reciprocate it whole-heartedly, as a faithful prince of a faithful people, and that we are both equally strong in our devotion to a common Fatherland. From this consciousness of the mutual love which binds me to my people, I derive the confidence that God will give me wisdom and strength to exercise my kingly office for the welfare of the Fatherland.


Potsdam, June 18, 1888.


Berlin, June 25, 1888

After the death of Frederick III the Reichstag was summoned to meet in extraordinary session. Most of the affiliated sovereigns of the German states assembled to pay homage to the youthful Emperor. On this occasion he made from the throne a declaration of policy which is interesting as showing his ideas before he was subjected to the pressure of events. Before he had succeeded to the throne it had been generally reported, possibly because of his known fondness for the army, that he was by nature bellicose. This report seriously distressed the new sovereign, and he began[32] his reign with declarations, which have often been renewed since, that he would work for peace. He likewise outlines his foreign policy and expresses the hope that he may further develop friendly relations with Russia. In this he was to achieve but little success, and a few years later the agreement which bound Russia to observe neutrality in case Germany were involved in war was allowed to lapse, much to the disgust of Bismarck, who at that time had been superseded by Caprivi. Frederick the Great had warned his successors that in the future, in case Prussia wished to wage any war, she would first have to assure herself of the neutrality of Russia. Bismarck had followed this policy and had established it on the basis of an agreement. As the relationship to Russia was to be of particular consequence, it will be interesting to have before us an article which appeared October 26, 1896, in the Hamburger Nachrichten, recognized as expressing the views of the great Chancellor. It announces that already in Bismarck’s time the wire between Berlin and St. Petersburg was cut and takes up certain events of the year 1890. “Up to this time,” we are told, “both empires were fully agreed that in case one of them should be attacked the other would preserve a benevolent neutrality. After the departure of Bismarck this agreement was not renewed, and if we are correctly informed about events in Berlin, it was not Russia, piqued at the change in chancellors, but Count Caprivi who declined to continue this mutual assurance, while Russia was prepared to do so.”


Emperor William’s announcement with regard to his personal friendship and the interests of the realm may be taken as heralding a new era in German foreign policy. He inaugurated what has been called “personal diplomacy,” and felt that it was possible to arrange the relationships between states by personally visiting and conferring with other sovereigns. Shortly after his accession, therefore, he set out on a tour of the European capitals. Bismarck, who planned his foreign relations on the basis of race psychology and possible future clashes of interests, opposed this strenuously. The visit to St. Petersburg (19th to 24th of July, 1888) gave rise to certain unpleasant scenes and was only returned by the Czar in a very perfunctory manner fifteen months later (October 11, 1889). The effect of the friendly attentions shown the Czar on this occasion was doubtless weakened by the fact that, less than three weeks later, Emperor William felt called upon to visit the Sultan, by whom he was most enthusiastically received in Constantinople. Even though the Emperor was most sincere in his desire to preserve friendship with Russia, events were to prove that his method of cultivating diplomatic relations was far less successful than Bismarck’s way of working in silence and waiting for events.

With regard to the internal administration of the realm, the problem that seemed most pressing to William II was the rapid growth of the Social Democratic party. This problem had already engaged the attention of William I and of Bismarck,[34] who recognized its gravity. But here, too, the Emperor and Chancellor were to disagree. The former felt that he could easily master the situation, as may be seen from his remark to Bismarck: “Leave the Social Democrats to me.” He was doubtless sincerely concerned for the welfare of the laborer and recognized in it one of the sources of the prosperity of the state. His policy was to be patriarchal and, bluntly put in Shakespearian phrase, amounted to giving them medicine to make them love him. But if, to change the metaphor, he offered them his hand in a velvet glove, they were, as may be seen from his speech, soon to discover that it was a hand of iron.

Honored Gentlemen:

I greet you with deep sorrow in my heart, and I know that you grieve with me. The recent memory of my late father’s sufferings, the astounding fact that three months after the death of his Majesty, Emperor William I, I am called upon to mount the throne, arouses the same feeling in the hearts of all Germans, and our grief has found a sympathetic response in all countries of the world. Under the weight of this sorrow, I pray God to give me strength to fulfil the high office to which His will has called me.

As I follow this command I have before my eyes the example which Emperor William bequeathed to his successors when, after serious[35] wars, he ruled with a love of peace. This same example the reign of my late father strove to maintain in so far as he was not thwarted in his aims by his illness and death.

I have called you together, Honored Gentlemen, in order in your presence to announce to the German people that I am determined, as Emperor and as King, to follow in that same path by which my late grandfather won for himself the trust of his allies, the love of the German people, and the kindly recognition of foreign countries. It lies with God whether I shall be successful in this or not; but earnestly shall I strive to that end.

The most important tasks of the German Emperor lie in the province of establishing military and political safety for the realm from without and in supervising the execution of the laws of the empire within. The Constitution of the empire forms the highest of these laws. To guard and defend it and all those rights which it secures to both of the legislative bodies[3] of the nation and to every German citizen, as well as those which it secures to the Emperor and to each of the states of the union, and to the reigning princes, is the most important right and duty of the Emperor.

[3] Bundesrat and Reichstag.

With regard to legislation in the realm, according to the Constitution I am called upon to act[36] more in my capacity as King of Prussia than in that as the German Emperor; but in both it will be my aim to carry out the work of imperial legislation in the same spirit in which my late grandfather began it. Especially do I take to heart in its fullest application the message published by him on November 17, 1881,[4] and shall proceed in that spirit to bring it about that the legislation for the working population shall make more secure the protection which, in accordance with the principles of Christian ethics, it can afford the weak and oppressed in the struggle for existence. I hope it may be possible in this way more nearly to eliminate unhealthy social distinctions, and I[37] cherish the hope that in fostering our internal welfare I shall receive the harmonious support of all true subjects of the realm, without division of party.

[4] As this message of Emperor William I was practically the beginning of labor legislation in Germany and is several times referred to, its significant portion is given below. Emperor William I had already failed in his policy of crushing Socialism through drastic measures of repression. He was now to initiate a policy of attempting to kill it with kindness. In spite of certain admirable provisions, this too was to fail. The Social Democrats had learned from bitter experience that they did not enjoy the good-will of either the grandfather or the grandson, and for this reason the projects of social legislation were looked upon with suspicion and accepted without enthusiasm. The awkward and compromising nature of the Emperor’s position is evident in the preamble.

“Already in February of this year we expressed the conviction that the healing of social grievances was not to be sought exclusively in the repression of Social Democratic excesses, but also in the direct advancement of the welfare of the laborer. We hold it to be our royal duty to impress this matter upon the Reichstag, and we would look back with greater satisfaction upon all the achievements with which God has blessed our reign if we could carry away with us the conviction that we had left to the Fatherland new and lasting pledges of internal peace and to those in need of help greater security and provisions for support, upon which they may make rightful claim. In our attempts to this end we are sure of the support of all the affiliated governments and count upon the support of the Reichstag without distinction of parties. To this end a draft of a bill for the protection of laborers against accidents, which was presented by the affiliated governments in the previous session, will be reformulated in view of the discussions held in the Reichstag and will be offered for further consideration. As a supplement to it, a project will be brought forward which proposes a similar organization of the funds for laboring men’s sick insurance. But those, too, who on account of age or infirmity are no longer able to work have just claim upon the community for a higher degree of governmental protection than it has previously been possible to accord them. To find the proper ways and means for making such provision is one of the most difficult but one of the highest tasks of any society which is based upon the foundations of a Christian national life. By calling upon the sources of this strong national life and organizing it into incorporated associations under state protection we hope to bring about the solution of problems which the state alone could not solve with the same success. But even in this way the goal cannot be reached without the employment of important means.”

I hold it, however, likewise my duty to see to it that our political and social development proceeds according to law and to meet with firmness any attempt which aims at undermining the order of the state.

In foreign politics I am determined to keep peace with every one in so far as in me lies. My love for the German army and my position in it will never lead me into the temptation of robbing the country of the benefits of peace, unless some[38] attack upon the empire, or her allies, forces war upon us. The army is to make our peace secure; yet if that should, nevertheless, be threatened, the army will be able to re-establish it with honor. And it will be able to do so by reason of the strength which it has received from the last army bill, which you voted unanimously. To make use of that force to wage a war of aggression lies far from my thoughts. Germany needs no new martial glory nor any conquest of whatever sort after she has, once for all, established her right to exist as a single and independent nation.

Our alliance with Austria-Hungary is publicly known; I hold fast to this in German faith not only because it is concluded but because I perceive in this defensive alliance a basis for European balance of power as well as a legacy from German history. The public opinion of the entire German people supports this alliance, and it is founded upon the European law of nations, as it prevailed undisputed until 1866. Similar historical relations, and the fact that we have similar national needs to-day, ally us with Italy. Both nations wish to hold fast to the blessings of peace in order to devote themselves undisturbed to the strengthening of their newly acquired unity, to the development of their national institutions, and to the furtherance of their prosperity.


To my great satisfaction, our existing agreements with Austria-Hungary and Italy permit me to foster carefully my personal friendship for the Russian Emperor and the friendly relations which have existed for a hundred years with the neighboring Russian Empire, a course which accords with my own feelings as well as with the interests of Germany.

I stand as ready to serve the Fatherland in the conscientious promotion of peace as in the care for our army and rejoice in the traditional relations with foreign powers through which my efforts in the former direction are being furthered.

Trusting in God and in the ability of our people to defend themselves, I entertain the hope that for an appreciable time we may be allowed to preserve and strengthen through peaceful labor what my two predecessors on the throne had acquired through their efforts on the field of battle.


Berlin, November 22, 1888

The first months of the Emperor’s reign were devoted largely to visiting the heads of the confederated German states and in cultivating the acquaintance of foreign rulers. His main purpose, as he tells us on a later occasion, was to com[40]bat the idea that it was his intention to enter upon a career of war.

The workingman’s insurance act, which has been referred to, was one of the most important legislative provisions ever made in the interests of labor. The cost of this insurance was distributed between the employer, the employed, and the state. In spite of its undoubted benefits, it had failed to disarm the Social Democrats, and the party had continued to increase. They complained that the proportion of the cost borne by them was too great, and, as they had been previously and were soon again to be treated as enemies, they were inclined to look upon it as a bribe. By his “social-political” legislation the Emperor meant to forestall the Socialist programme. When this well-intentioned movement failed to dissolve the party, which continued to increase, he was not slow to show his resentment.

Honored Gentlemen:

When I greeted you for the first time, at the beginning of my reign, you stood with me under the weight of the severe visitations which my house and the empire have experienced in the course of the present year. The sorrow over this loss will never be wholly extinguished during the lifetime of the present generation, but it cannot hinder me from following in the footsteps of my late ancestors and completely fulfilling the demands of duty with manly vigor and fidelity.


Buoyed up by this sense of duty and assuming that this exists in you to the same degree, I give you my greeting and bid you welcome as we again take up our common labors.

My travels have carried me into different parts of the empire, and everywhere I have found evidences, both on the part of my exalted colleagues and of the people, that the princes and the population of Germany are, with absolute trust, devoted to the empire and its institutions and find the pledge of safety in their union. From such testimony you have doubtless come to the conclusion, no less satisfying to you than to me, that the organic union which now binds the empire together has taken deep and firm rooting in the people at large. I therefore feel the need of gratefully expressing on this occasion the pleasure which it gives me.

It fills me with great satisfaction that, after difficult and laborious negotiations, the inclusion of the free Hanseatic cities, Hamburg and Bremen, into the customs union of the empire has now been realized. I see in this the blessed fruit of our combined efforts. May the expectations which we count upon from this extension of the empire’s customs districts be realized in fullest measure, both for the empire and for these two most important seacoast towns!


The government of the Swiss Federation has suggested a revision of the commercial treaty between Germany and Switzerland. Filled with the desire of confirming the existing friendly relations between the two countries and of extending them also into the realm of their commercial policies, I stand ready to meet their proposal. The negotiations have been conducted through the offices of representatives from the states bordering upon Switzerland, and their result consists in a further agreement through which the treaty regulations for reciprocal trade will be extended and the exchange of industrial products will be made easier. After its successful acceptance by the Bundesrat the agreement will be presented to you with the proposal, in order that you may bestow upon it your constitutional sanction.

The budget for the next fiscal year will be laid before you without delay. The draft gives proof of the satisfactory condition of the imperial finances. As a result of the reforms instituted in the last few years, with your co-operation, in the way of tariffs and internal revenues, surplus receipts may be expected, and upon this basis we shall not only be provided with a new means of fulfilling the inevitable obligations of the empire but it may be possible for our constituent states to expect an increase of means for their own purposes.


I greet with joy the signs of a revival of economic activity in various fields. Even though the pressure which bears upon the farmer is not yet relieved, nevertheless, as I look forward to the possibility which has lately appeared of a greater utilization of certain agricultural products, I hope that an amelioration also of this most powerful branch of our industrial work will be brought about.

The bill which has already been announced on the regulation of the industrial and agricultural societies will be laid before you for your decision. It is to be hoped that the enfranchising of associations with limited liability which the bill proposes will prove itself beneficial in increasing agricultural credit.

Certain shortcomings which have appeared in connection with the insurance against sickness call for legal remedy. The necessary preliminary investigations for this have so far progressed as to make it possible, in all probability, to lay before you in the course of this session an adequate presentation of the case.

As a precious legacy from my grandfather, I have taken over the problem of carrying out the social-political legislation begun by him. I do not allow myself to be carried away by the hope that through legal measures the exigencies of our[44] time and human misery can be abolished from the world. I judge it to be a duty, however, of the executive power to strive with all its faculties toward the mitigation of existing industrial grievances and through organized measures to emphasize the fact that love of our neighbor, which has its foundations in Christianity itself, should be a recognized duty of the entire state. The difficulties which stand in the way of the state’s assisting in the universal insurance of all workers against the dangers of age and sickness are great; but, with God’s help, they are not insurmountable. As the result of extensive investigations a bill will be presented to you which reveals a possible means of attaining this end.

Our settlements in Africa have imposed upon the German Empire the duty of converting that part of the world to a Christian civilization. The friendly government of England and her Parliament has known for a hundred years that the fulfilment of this obligation must begin with combating the hunting of slaves and the trade in negroes. I have, therefore, sought and concluded an understanding with England, whose meaning and aim you shall learn. On it depend further negotiations with other friendly and interested governments and further proposals for the Reichstag.


Our relations with all foreign governments are peaceful, and my efforts are continually directed toward cementing this peace. Our treaties with Austria and Italy have no other aim. It is incompatible with my Christian faith and with the duties which as Emperor I have assumed toward the people needlessly to bring upon Germany the sorrows of a war, even of a victorious one. In this conviction I have looked upon it as my duty soon after I ascended the throne to greet not only my affiliated rulers within the realm but also the friendly neighboring sovereigns. I have sought to find an understanding with them concerning the fulfilment of this trust which God has placed upon us, of preserving, so far as in us lies, the peace and welfare of our people. The confidence with which I and my policies have been received at all the courts which I have visited leads me to hope that, with God’s help, I and my allies and my friends will succeed in preserving the peace of Europe.


Berlin, May 14, 1889

The Emperor’s change of attitude toward the Socialists is evident from his conduct in the conflict which had arisen in the Rhenish and West[46]phalian coal districts between the miners and their employers. He personally received delegations from both sides. The miners’ delegation consisted of Schröder (spokesman), Siegel, and Bunte. In answer to Schröder’s speech, the Emperor announced:

It goes without saying that every subject, when he presents a wish or a petition, has the ear of his Emperor. Of this I have given evidence in that I have invited the deputation to come here and to set forth their wishes in person. You have, however, placed yourselves in the wrong, because your agitation is unlawful for no other reason than the fact that the fourteen days of warning have not yet expired, after which the workers would have been legally justified in ceasing work. In consequence of this you are guilty of breaking a contract. It is self-evident that this breach of contract has angered and injured the employers.

Further, there are workers who do not wish to strike and who, either through force or by means of threats, are hindered from continuing their work. Also, certain of the workers have seized upon organs of the authorities and upon property which did not belong to them and have even, in individual cases, offered resistance to the military force called to protect them. Finally, you wish that work should be generally resumed again only[47] when your combined demands shall have been fulfilled at all the mines.

As for the demands themselves, I shall, through my government, carefully examine them and have the results of the investigation delivered to you through the appointed authorities. Should, however, there occur transgressions against the public order and peace, or should the agitation ally itself with the Social Democrats, then I should not be in a position to reconcile your wishes with my good-will as ruler. For, to me, every Social Democrat is synonymous with an enemy of the realm and of the Fatherland. Should I, therefore, discover that Social-Democratic tendencies become involved in the agitation and instigate unlawful opposition, I will step in sternly and ruthlessly and bring to bear all the power that I possess—and it is great.

Now go to your homes, think over what I have said, and seek to influence your comrades to reflection. Above all, however, you must not, under any circumstances, hinder your comrades who wish to return to their work.


Berlin, May 22, 1889

At the time of the great spring review of this year, King Humbert came to Berlin to return the[48] Emperor’s visit. A state banquet was held, at which the Emperor proposed the following toast to the King of Italy:

May it please your Majesty to accept from me and my people our heartiest thanks for the proof of the friendship which your Majesty has given me by this visit!

My troops, likewise, are filled with grateful pride that they have been able to conduct themselves with honor in the eyes of your Majesty, an experienced soldier.

Full of the happy remembrance of the army manœuvres at Rome, I raise my glass and drink to the health of your Majesty and of her Majesty, the Queen; to the health of your brave troops as well as to the unchanging friendship with the house of Savoy, whose motto, “Sempre avanti, Savoja,” has led to the unification of the kingdom of Italy. Long live his Majesty, King Humbert!


Sandown Bay, August 5, 1889

On this date the Emperor was created admiral of the English fleet by Queen Victoria. On the same day he was present at a regatta on Sandown Bay, where he replied as follows to a toast offered by the Prince of Wales:


I prize most highly the honor which has been shown me by the Queen in appointing me admiral of the English fleet. I sincerely rejoice to have seen the manœuvres of the fleet, which I consider the finest in the world. Germany possesses an army which answers to her needs, and if the British nation possesses a fleet sufficient for the needs of England, this in itself will be considered by Europe in general as a weighty factor in the maintenance of peace.


Aldershot, August 7, 1889

On his mother’s side, who was a princess royal of England, the Emperor was a grandson of Queen Victoria, to whom he paid frequent visits and whom he held in high regard. William II began his reign with cordial feelings toward his island neighbors. If the friendship between the two nations was never particularly close, the estrangement of modern times may be said to have begun in colonial and commercial rivalries in the last decades of the nineteenth century and to have been sharpened by events in China and especially by the Boer War. The situation became more acute after the Morocco incident, in 1904-5, and when on that occasion England sided with France she was by a large portion of the German people definitely aligned with their enemies. The[50] present toast, which was reported in this form in the Kreuzzeitung of August 9, 1889, was received with no protest or denial. The Emperor had been present at the manœuvres of 29,000 English troops at Aldershot, under General Sir Evelyn Wood. The toast was offered in the camp tent of the Duke of Cambridge, in response to one by that officer.

It gives me particular satisfaction to have appointed the Duke of Cambridge, the commander-in-chief of the English army, as a member of the 28th Regiment, since this same regiment had as chief at one time our comrade at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington.

The friendship with the English, which had been sealed in blood, my honored grandfather maintained to the end of his life.

The British army fills me with the greatest admiration. If ever the possibility of counting upon volunteers is doubted, I shall be in a position to give testimony to their capacity.

At Malplaquet and at Waterloo the Prussian and British blood was shed in a common cause.


Berlin, October 11, 1889

On the occasion of Alexander III’s visit to Berlin the Emperor offered the following toast at the banquet in the White Room of the Royal[51] Palace. It may be “considering too curiously to consider so,” but to many there will seem to be something matter-of-fact in the Czar’s reply, which is printed below. This friendship between the rulers of the two neighboring countries was, however, outwardly preserved up to the time of the present war, as is evident to those who will consult the telegrams exchanged between William and Nicolas on the eve of the outbreak.

I drink to the health of my honored friend, his Majesty, the Emperor of Russia, and to the continuation of the friendship which has existed for more than one hundred years between our houses and which, as a legacy received from my ancestors, I am determined to foster.

The Czar replied in French, as follows:

Je remercie Votre Majesté de Vos bonnes paroles et je partage entièrement les sentiments que Vous venez d’exprimer. A la santé de Sa Majesté, l’Empereur et Roi—Hourra!


The Piræus, October 30, 1889

On visits to his English relatives the Emperor had, as a lad, made occasional sojourns in Great Britain, and that romantic temperament of which he was to give indications even in much later[52] years was much impressed by the sight of English ships. He recalls the memory on many occasions. As will be plain later, he early conceived the idea and realized the necessity of a powerful fleet. As this is his first reference to the navy in the present volume it is interesting to note the attitude of humble discipleship which in the mid-years of the next decade is to give way to quite another conception.

I am proud of the rank which Queen Victoria has bestowed upon me. It might be supposed that my interest in the British navy dated from my appointment as admiral; that, however, is not so. From my earliest youth, when as a boy I ran about on the wharves at Portsmouth, I was much interested in British ships. My inspection of the ships to-day has afforded me great satisfaction, and I congratulate you on their appearance. Nelson’s famous watchword is no longer necessary. They all do their duty, and we as a young sea power follow England in order to learn from the English navy.



May 6, 1890—June 21, 1895


Berlin, May 6, 1890

This address to the Reichstag is of particular importance. The Emperor had now visited most of the sovereigns of Europe and felt that he had established himself. He was here definitely outlining a policy which he himself had framed. In that period when the Emperor was still Prince William, Bismarck had said: “In him there is something of Frederick the Great, and he is also able to become as despotic as Frederick the Great. What a blessing that we have a parliamentary government!” He had likewise prophesied that the Emperor would be his own chancellor, and he had discovered in his own case that the prophecy was a true one. In the spring of this year, after numerous misunderstandings, Bismarck had himself been forced into retirement, and henceforth his name will be mentioned but rarely. One of the points on which they had disagreed was precisely this project for labor legislation, which was, unfortunately, not destined to fulfil the hopes[54] entertained by William II. A number of the projects here laid down were carried out only partially and others not at all. So, for instance, in this same year the Emperor had issued the following decree:

“For the fostering of peace between employers and laborers legal regulations are contemplated regarding the forms in which the laborers shall, through representatives who possess their confidence, participate in the regulation of matters of common concern and the protection of their interests in negotiations with employers and with the organs of my government. By such institutions the laborers are to be enabled to give free and peaceful expression to their wishes and complaints, and the state authorities are to be given the opportunity of continually acquainting themselves with the conditions of the workers and of cultivating contact with the latter.”

As late as 1905 it had not been carried into execution, though chambers of labor have since been established which partially carry out this end.

The industrial courts of which the Emperor speaks have been far from successful in arbitration disputes. They are established in all cities of over 20,000 inhabitants and consist of equal numbers of employers and employees. Dawson holds that unwillingness to mediate lies with the employers. During the year 1905, 406 courts acted as boards of conciliation on 350 occasions, all told, and in only 128 cases were they successful. Part of the failure lies in the fact that no wage agreements[55] existed. Of 219 “aggressive” strikes in Berlin in 1905, organized by the “free” trades federations, 55 were for the introduction of wage agreements.

The Emperor’s disappointment at the failure of his policy to check the growing disaffection of the laboring classes will later be evident.

It is significant that in this address, though measures for the army are strongly urged, there is as yet no mention of the navy.

Honored Gentlemen:

Since you have been chosen in the recent elections to work in common with the allied governments, I bid you welcome at this the opening of the eighth legislative session of the Reichstag. I earnestly hope that you may succeed in finding a satisfactory solution for the important problems of legislation which here confront you. A number of these problems are of so pressing a nature that it did not seem possible to defer longer the summoning of the Reichstag.

I consider as most important among them the further enlargement of the bill concerning the protection of the laborer. The strikes which have occurred in different parts of the country during the past year have given me occasion to bring about an investigation of the question as to whether our present legislation has, to the fullest extent, taken cognizance of those wishes of the working people[56] which are really just and reasonable and within the state’s power of regulation. The question of first importance concerns the guarantee of Sunday as a day of rest for the laboring man, as well as the limitation of woman and child labor in accordance with consideration for humanity and with regard to the natural laws of development. The governments of the affiliated states are convinced that the proposals in this connection made by the last Reichstag can, according to their present content, be given legal effectiveness without harm to other interests. In this connection, however, numerous other provisions have shown themselves unsatisfactory and capable of improvement. To this category belong especially the legal provisions for the protection of the laborer against danger to his life, health, and morals, as well as the laws concerning the announcement of regulations of labor. The prescriptions concerning the working men’s books need amplification with the aim of insuring the respect due the older men against the increasing impertinence of the younger laborers. The consequent changes demanded and the further expansion of the trade regulations find their expression in a bill which you will shortly receive.

A further proposal endeavors to secure the better regulation of the industrial arbitration courts and, likewise, an organization of these which[57] shall make it possible to use them as mediators in cases of dispute between employers and employees over the terms on which labor shall be continued or resumed.

I trust that your willing co-operation will secure an agreement of the law-making bodies concerning the reform laid before you and thereby take a step forward toward the solution of our relations to the laboring class. The more the laboring population recognizes the serious earnestness with which the government is striving to render their status satisfactory, so much the more will they be conscious of the dangers which must arise from their insistence upon extravagant and impossible demands. In the proper provision for the laborer lies the most effective means of increasing the strength which I and my associated rulers are called upon and willing to use in opposing with unyielding determination any attempt to shake the provisions of the law.

Nevertheless, in the case of this reform there can be question only of such measures as are feasible without endangering the Fatherland’s industrial activity and with it the most important vital interests of the laborer himself. Our industry forms only one department in the economic work of all the peoples who take part in the competition in the market of the world. With this in mind, I[58] have sought to bring about an interchange of opinions on the matter, among the states of Europe where similar economic conditions prevail, as to how far a general recognition of the legislative problems relative to the safety of the working man can be established and brought to pass. I am compelled to gratefully acknowledge that these suggestions have found favor in all states concerned and especially in those where the same idea was already being agitated and was approaching execution. The course of the international conference which met here fills me with especial satisfaction. Its conclusions are the expression of a general attitude with regard to this most important province of our contemporary civilization. The principles there laid down will, I have no doubt, prove a rich field which, with God’s help, shall blossom to the blessing of the workers of all countries and which will also bear fruit in drawing all nations together.

The continued preservation of peace is ever the goal of my efforts. I dare express the conviction that I have succeeded in securing the confidence of all foreign governments in the good faith of this policy of mine. Like myself and my esteemed affiliated rulers, the German people recognize that it is the problem of the empire to preserve peace by cultivating the alliances already concluded for[59] our defense, and the friendly relations now existing with all foreign powers, in order to further prosperity and civilization. For the accomplishment of this task, however, we need an armed force compatible with our position in the heart of Europe. Every postponement of matters pertaining to the army endangers the political balance of power and with it the success of our policy directed toward maintaining peace.

Since the basis of our army organization was decided upon for a definite period the military organization of our neighbors has been broadened and perfected to an unforeseen degree. Indeed, we, too, have neglected nothing in our attempt to strengthen our forces, in so far as this was possible within the limits prescribed by the law. Nevertheless, what we could do within these limits was so little that we cannot postpone a consideration of the whole question without danger to ourselves. An increase of the present peace strength and an increase of the bodies of troops—especially for the field-artillery—must not be longer deferred. A bill will be laid before you according to which the necessary measures for strengthening the army will go into effect on the 1st of October of this year.

The plan which has been instituted in West Africa toward the suppression of the slave-trade[60] and for the protection of the German interests has, during the last months, made progress, thanks to the self-sacrificing activity of our officers and officials who are stationed there. The complete restoration of peace in those districts may be expected very shortly. The expense thus incurred will be covered by an additional grant.

The budget for the current fiscal year already needs a corresponding enlargement on account of the plans referred to. Furthermore, the increase of salary for a part of the officials of the realm, which has long been projected and which has become ever more pressing, can no longer be delayed. The supplementary budget which is to be submitted to you will give you an opportunity to prove your friendly interest in satisfying this need.

If the labors hereby imposed upon you come to a successful issue, new and sound guarantees for the inner welfare of the Fatherland will then have been won. May it be granted to us through common effort to achieve this end!


Flensburg, September 4, 1890

The review of the Ninth Army Corps took place in the presence of the Empress, Princes Henry and Albert, of Archduke Karl Stephen of Austria, and Count Moltke at Flensburg. It[61] will be remembered that in 1864 Bismarck succeeded in enlisting Austria to aid Prussia in a war upon Denmark, which was at that time deprived of Schleswig-Holstein, the harbor of Kiel, and more than 1,000,000 inhabitants. One of the battles of the war to which the Emperor refers was fought in this district. The address was made at the banquet following the review.

My opinion of to-day’s performance of the Ninth Army Corps under the command of your Excellency [General von Leszczynski] I have already expressed to you and your officers.

Whoever, like myself, has for any length of time stood at the front or partly at the front and partly as spectator has been present at many imperial manœuvres knows what such a parade means to an army corps. I know very well what arduous preliminary labor is involved, the agitation, the attention, the exertion of the troops. I know very well how each individual officer, high or low, every soldier, rejoices in and yet with a certain solicitude looks forward to the moment when he shall parade before his war lord.[5]

[5] Kriegsherr.

I know from my own experience when I was still a captain what satisfaction I felt when my adjutant could call to me that the Emperor had nodded as the company passed by him. This[62] is true to-day, likewise, in the case of every officer.

I repeat to you my hearty thanks and express to you my congratulation for the magnificent parade. This army corps which you have marshalled before me has a bearing and discipline which I must demand unconditionally from every army corps. I do not doubt for a moment that the work done in preparing for a review will prove useful in the preparation for battle.

We stand here upon historic ground, on which our armies, united with those of Austria, jointly won a bloody victory.

I raise my glass and drink to the Ninth Army Corps in the expectation that here and hereafter, in war as in peace, it will maintain its famous traditions. Long live the Ninth Army Corps!


Berlin, November 11, 1890

The following address shows the Emperor in one of the little-known phases of his amazingly versatile career. It exhibits, likewise, his command of detailed knowledge in a field where we should least expect it and his solicitude for the welfare of faithful subjects. Besides his interest in the sea, he has also for many years been much inter[63]ested in agriculture; and his estate in East Prussia has been in a sense an experiment station. He prides himself on being a pioneer and in personally supervising his domain and is occasionally pleased to call himself a farmer. He attended the meetings of the Prussian Agricultural Commission and at one of the sessions took part in the discussion on the means of safeguarding the life of the laborers.

Two points have occurred to me which I would like to ask you to consider. It is worthy of note that during my reign there have been brought to my attention many striking cases in which laboring women have been killed through accidents with machinery. I receive regularly from the Minister of Justice tabulated lists of requests[6] for pardon, and it seems to me that there is among them a striking number of cases of women farmhands who have met with accidents in tending machines. As has already been said, I am not granting these pardons as freely as formerly. It is to be noted, furthermore, that a great difference prevails in the adjudication of the cases in which penalties may be inflicted and in the penalties themselves. I next inquired why these women workers—it was especially girls working with the thrashing-machines—were killed, and it[64] usually appeared that the girls were caught by their dresses in the transmission pulleys and so became entangled in them. Then I asked if there were no means of protection there. Yes, indeed, they said, according to the police regulations the pulleys must have a cover or a box must be put over them, but in each of these cases this had not been attended to. There also appeared here, on the one side, a certain indifference either on the part of the owner or of the person who was conducting the work concerning the life of the women in his employ and, on the other side, an indifference on the part of the women themselves, who had become accustomed to working near the moving parts of the machines and to stepping over the pulleys, and finally the accident happened. Therefore, may I ask you that in using the word “machines” these provisions regarding power transmission be not forgotten. Many of the machines stand in one place and the apparatus for transmission is in another place or in the yard, and that is a chief cause of the accidents. For every one passes through the yard, and especially if there are children playing there, all too easily some misfortune may occur.

[6] From employers, of course.

Let me, therefore, remark, concerning what one of the preceding speakers has said, that I myself have come to the same conclusion as Professor[65] Schmoller. I believe that it is not sufficient that the state should lay upon the worker the obligation to be careful and that it should give him directions how to conduct himself with regard to the machines. This cannot be carried out.

I am much more of the opinion that, if such is your desire and if it is plain that harm has resulted from the fact that the workers move about too carelessly, it is much better that the obligation should be put upon the owner or upon the person commissioned to conduct the machines and that he be required to watch over the employees more carefully. If the owner cannot burden himself with it then he should have such officials as would have sufficient influence with the worker to make him be careful. We must not forget what, for the most part, such a worker is like and what he knows of machinery. Frequently he knows only that it cuts or that it is otherwise dangerous. A certain grip is shown him—he must do it like this—but the rest he does not understand and regards with indifference. Consequently regulations which concern only or more particularly the laborer would not help, for the people would not understand their aim and when the regulation caused them annoyance or trouble would fail to consider it and thus render themselves liable to accident.


I believe, therefore, that it is most important in the question of the conduct of agricultural machinery that we should work toward proper supervision over the laborer by the employer. When this happens accidents will begin to diminish.

It has interested me very much to learn here that it is not the machines but altogether different circumstances which cause most of the accidents in agricultural operations and that particularly in all provinces where horses are employed accidents are frequent. I am therefore pleased that this phase of the question of protecting against accident has also come up here and that the gentlemen are now engaged upon it.

For the rest it has been a great pleasure to me to take part in these deliberations.


Berlin, March 14, 1891

On this occasion a deputation from Alsace-Lorraine presented a protest against the continuance of the Passzwang, a rule which made it impossible to leave Alsace-Lorraine except under very special circumstances and on receiving a pass from the imperial agent. The rule was particularly obnoxious, and the strictness with which it had been enforced was much resented, even by subjects favorably disposed to the empire. It[67] was, however, merely one of many grievances. Since the time of the Franco-Prussian War, Alsace-Lorraine had been governed like a conquered province—by a governor appointed by, and responsible to, the Emperor alone. Up to this time the policy had been one of repression, save for a very brief period. It is possible that the Emperor might have been inclined to give them some relief had it not been for the unfortunate result of the visit of his mother to Paris. After a visit in London, the Empress Frederick, in February, 1891 (it is supposed on the advice of her son), visited Paris and, while there, was to ask certain of the French artists to exhibit at the Berlin exhibition. It had evidently been assumed that the time had come for a rapprochement. The Empress descended at the German embassy very quietly and had received promises from several artists, when her presence in Paris became known to the League of French Patriots and to the germanophobe Déroulède, who immediately started a violent agitation and demonstrations against Germany. The artists withdrew their promises under the pressure of outraged patriotic opinion, and the situation became so tense that the Empress was forced to depart very hastily in a manner that suggested flight. The incident tended to make bad feeling on both sides and reacted unfavorably upon the attitude of the empire toward the former French provinces. The difficulties of circulation were increased, and the regulations about passes were made particularly trying. These difficulties were removed in 1899, but the[68] provinces continued to protest, as they were not given equal rights with the other German states and have not enjoyed them up to the present. In May, 1911, a new so-called constitution was given to Alsace-Lorraine. The executive power is exercised by the Emperor in the name of the empire; the province has three votes in the Bundesrat, which are so restricted that they give very little satisfaction to Alsace-Lorraine and are so far under the control of Prussia that they give considerable dissatisfaction to other German states. The Emperor appoints officials, including the Statthalter, or governor, and the delegates are instructed by the Statthalter and must vote according to instructions. The votes do not count in any vote concerning the imperial Constitution. There was much protest because the new constitution did not grant the provinces sufficient independence. The previous Provincial Assembly (Landesausschuss) had been summarily closed on the 9th of May, 1911. Affairs were but little improved under the new arrangement, and the Emperor came to Strasburg in great anger, May 13, 1912, and made the following threatening address: “If this keeps up I shall knock your constitution to bits. Up to the present you have known me from my good side, but you can perhaps learn to know me from the other side also. If things do not change, we will make of Alsace-Lorraine a Prussian province.” This speech of the Emperor’s is not printed officially, but it was made the subject of an interpellation in the Reichstag on May 17, 1912, and the burgomaster of Strasburg ad[69]mitted that the sense of the imperial utterance was properly given. With regard to Alsace-Lorraine, the Emperor has tried both kindness and severity. The Zabern incident proved that in neither of these policies had he succeeded in winning either the love or the subjection of the inhabitants.

The following is the estimate of Dr. H. A. Gibbons on the situation in Alsace-Lorraine immediately before the outbreak of the European War:

“One could easily fill many pages with illustrations of senseless persecutions, most of them of the pettiest character, but some more serious in nature, which Alsace and Lorraine have had to endure since the granting of the constitution. Newspapers, illustrated journals, clubs, and organizations of all kinds have been annoyed constantly by police interference. Their editors, artists, and managers have been brought frequently into court. Zislin and Hansi, celebrated caricaturists, have found themselves provoked to bolder and bolder defiances by successive condemnations and have endured imprisonment as well as fines. Hansi was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment by the High Court of Leipsic only a month before the present war broke out and chose exile rather than a Prussian fortress.

“The greatest effort during the past few years has been made in the schools to influence the minds of the growing generation against the ‘souvenir de France,’ and to impress upon the Alsacians what good fortune had come to them to be born German citizens.


“Among the boys, the influence of this teaching has been such that over twenty-two thousand fled from home during the period of 1900-13 to enlist in the Foreign Legion of the French Army. The campaign of the German newspapers in Alsace-Lorraine and, in fact, throughout Germany was redoubled in 1911. Parents were warned of the horrible treatment accorded to the poor boys who were misguided enough to throw away their citizenship and go to be killed in Africa under the French flag. The result of this campaign was that the Foreign Legion received a larger number of Alsacians in 1912 than had enlisted during a single year since 1871!

“Among the girls, the German educational system flattered itself that it could completely change the sentiments of a child, especially in the boarding-schools. Last year the Empress of Germany visited a girls’ school near Metz which is one of the best German schools in the Reichsland. As she was leaving she told the children that she wanted to give them something. What did they want? The answer was not sweets or cake but that they might be taught a little French!

“The former French provinces have been flooded with garrisons and have been treated just as they were forty years ago. The insufferable spirit of militarism and the arrogance of the Prussian officers in Alsacian towns have served to turn against the empire many thousands whom another policy might have won; for it must be remembered that by no means all the inhabitants of the Reichsland have been by birth and by home[71] training French sympathizers. Instead of crushing out the ‘souvenir de France,’ the Prussian civil and military officials have caused it to be born in many a soul which was by nature German.

“The Prussian has never understood how to win the confidence of others. There has been no Rome in his political vision. As for conceptions of toleration, of kindness, and of love, they are non-existent in Prussian officialdom.”

It gives me great satisfaction that the committee of the provinces has turned to me in an important question concerning the interests of Alsace-Lorraine. I see in this fact a valuable proof of the increasing understanding which my good-will and my interest in the development of your home country has begotten in the minds of its representatives. I am also pleased to accept this assurance that the people of Alsace-Lorraine, satisfied for the time being with the existing political relations, spurn every interference by foreign elements and look to the empire alone for the protection of their interests.

While I offer you my thanks for this expression of loyal sentiment, I regret that for the present I cannot fulfil your wishes. I must confine myself in this matter to expressing the hope that in a not too distant future our relations may make possible the alleviation of conditions on the west[72]ern boundary. This hope will be the sooner realized the more the people of Alsace-Lorraine are convinced of the inviolability of the union which binds them to Germany and the more decidedly they exhibit their resolution to remain forever faithful and immovable in their loyalty to me and to the empire.


Potsdam, November 23, 1891

Every year the Emperor is present at the swearing in of the recruits to the guard and to the navy. He has made innumerable speeches on such occasions. The present somewhat striking pronouncement was delivered at a time when his feeling toward the Socialists, who had been guilty of no particular outrage, still ran very high. Tolstoi saw in it the worst excesses of militarism and issued shortly after the following criticism of the Emperor’s attitude:

“This man expresses what all wise men know but carefully conceal. He says frankly that men who serve in the army serve him and his advantage and must be prepared for his advantage to kill their brothers and fathers.

“He expresses frankly, and with the coarsest of words, all the horror of the crime for which the men who enter into military service are prepared, all that abyss of degradation which they reach when they promise obedience. Like a bold hyp[73]notizer, he tests the degree of the hypnotized man’s sleep: he puts the glowing iron to his body, the body sizzles and smokes, but the hypnotized man does not awake.

“This miserable, ill man, who has lost his mind from the exercise of power, with these words offends everything which can be holy for a man of our time, and men—Christians, liberals, cultured men of our time, all of them are not only not provoked by this insult but do not even notice it.”

It is possible that such criticism and the resentment aroused in the minds of the law-abiding Socialists led him later to tone down his utterances, though on one subsequent occasion, again with the Socialists in mind, he made a somewhat similar address (March 28, 1901).

Recruits to the Regiment of My Guard:

You are brought together here from all parts of the empire to fulfil your military duty, and in this holy place have just sworn fealty to your Emperor to your last breath. You are still too young to understand all this. You will, however, little by little, be made familiar with its significance. Do not imagine it too difficult, and trust in God; occasionally also say the Lord’s Prayer—that has frequently given many a warrior fresh courage.

Children of my guard, to-day you have become incorporated into my army; you now stand under[74] my command and have the privilege of wearing my uniform. Wear it honorably. Think of the famous history of your Fatherland; remember that the German army must be armed against the internal as well as the external foe. More and more unbelief and discontent raise their heads in the Fatherland, and it may come to pass that you will have to shoot down or stab your own relatives and brothers. Then seal your loyalty with your heart’s blood! And now go to your homes and fulfil your duties.

—(According to the Breslauer Lokalanzeiger of December 8.)

According to the Neisser Zeitung, the second paragraph ran as follows:

Recruits! You have now before the consecrated servant of the Lord and before His altar, sworn fealty to me. You are still too young to understand the true meaning of what has just been said; but be diligent now and follow the directions and instructions given you. You have sworn loyalty to me; that means, children of my guard, that you are now my soldiers, you have given yourselves up to me, body and soul; there is for you but one enemy, and that is my enemy. In view of the present Socialistic agitations it may come to pass that I shall command you to shoot[75] your own relatives, brothers, yes, parents—which God forbid—but even then you must follow my command without a murmur.

Entirely similar, but shorter, is a clipping from the Berlin paper Das Volk, according to the account of one who heard the speech.

You have sworn to me the oath of loyalty; that means, from now on you know only one command, and that is my most high command; you have only one enemy, and that is my enemy! And so I may sometime—which God forbid—have to bid you to shoot upon your own relatives, yes, brothers and parents—then remember your oath!


Berlin, July 4, 1893

The opposition between the Reichstag and the government reached a climax when the session which opened in 1886 was dissolved in January, 1887, because it refused to vote for the bill fixing the army status for the ensuing seven years. The next Reichstag, elected in February, voted the bill. In spite of the fact that the new arrangement was to have been effective until March, 1894, as early as the session of 1890 changes were introduced which fixed the peace footing at 468,983 men, exclusive of the one-year[76] volunteers. In November, 1892, a new army bill was presented, to run for six years, fixing the peace footing at 492,068. All infantrymen were to serve two years. In the debates of 1887 it was announced that Russia was an ally of Germany. The failure to renew the neutrality agreement with that power and the growing rapprochement between France and Russia seems to have been most in the Emperor’s mind in calling for an increase. The increased appropriation of 1887 was covered by a tax on spirits, sugar, and grain. The new increase was to be met by indirect taxes, mostly on beer and brandy. When the Reichstag refused to vote the bill as it stood, it was dissolved and a new one called. The new Reichstag, which is here addressed, accepted the bill on July 15. As much of the opposition had been due to the fear of the less-favored classes that the increased cost would fall heavily on them through indirect taxes, the Chancellor assured the representatives (as the Emperor here indicates) that there would be no tax on beer or brandy nor any other necessities of life.

Since you have been called to work in common with the confederated governments, it is my desire at the beginning of your deliberations to greet you and bid you welcome.

The draft of the bill concerning the peace footing of the German army, through which a strengthening of our available force would have been[77] achieved, was presented to the last Reichstag. To my great regret the project did not meet with the approval of the representatives of the people. The conviction, unanimously shared by my corulers, that in the face of the development of the military arrangements of the other powers this government could no longer put off such a shaping of its military status as should guarantee its safety and its future led to the decision to dissolve the Reichstag and, by the calling of new representatives to attain the end recognized as necessary. Since the proposal of this law the political situation of Europe has undergone no change. To my great satisfaction, the relations of the empire to the foreign states are altogether and everywhere friendly and free from any cloud. The organized military force of Germany, however, compares still more unfavorably with that of our neighbors than it did last year. Since her geographical position and her historical development impose upon Germany the duty of taking thought for a proportionately large standing army, the further development of our defensive strength, therefore, with regard to the progress of other countries becomes a pressing necessity. In order to satisfy the duties constitutionally laid upon me, it seemed to me incontrovertible that I should exercise every existing means at my command toward the[78] restoration of a sufficient and effective defense of the honor of the Fatherland.

There will, therefore, be laid before you without delay a new bill concerning the peace footing of the army. In it the wishes which were strongly expressed during the discussion of the former bill are taken account of, and, in accordance with this, demands made upon the personal capacity and upon the people’s ability to pay taxes have, in so far as this could be done without endangering the end sought, been lessened.

The interest of the realm demands, especially in looking forward to the impending expiration of the seven-year arrangement next spring, that the bill should be decided upon with all possible despatch, in order that this year’s recruiting can be undertaken on the new basis. A delay in carrying out this proposal would be felt for more than twenty years, to the detriment of our defensive strength.

To make it possible for you to give your undivided attention to the discussion of the bill, the confederated governments will refrain from burdening the session with other important matters.

I and my honored corulers are still of the opinion that the means necessary for the reorganization of our military equipment can be raised properly, and without overburdening the people,[79] in the manner brought forward last autumn in the draft of the proposed taxation bill. Nevertheless, the question of making good the deficit is still the object of continued discussions. I expect that a proposal will be set before you by the beginning of the next winter session in which is expressed, even more strongly than in the former bill, the principle that the providing of the necessary means must be carried out with the utmost regard for the individual’s ability to pay and with as little draft as possible upon our power of levying taxes. Until the expiration of the present official year the contributions from the various states may be drawn upon to cover the excess.

Honored Sirs, we have succeeded in the difficult task of welding the German race into a strong union. The nation honors those who have given their possessions and their blood for this work and who have brought the Fatherland to political and industrial prosperity—a prosperity which is the pride and the pleasure of their contemporaries and which, if they build in the same spirit as their fathers, will guarantee to the generations to come the greatness and the happiness of the empire. To protect the glorious acquisitions with which God has blessed us in our struggle for independence is our most sacred duty. We can, however, only fulfil such a duty toward the Fatherland by[80] making ourselves sufficiently strong in military power to defend ourselves, so that we may remain a reliable guarantor of the peace of Europe. I trust that your patriotic, self-sacrificing assistance in the pursuance of this aim will not fail me and my honored corulers.

The Emperor followed the formal address from the throne with the following:

And now, gentlemen, go forth. May our ancient God look down upon you and bestow upon you His blessing to the end that you may bring to successful issue an honorable work for the welfare of our Fatherland! Amen.


Metz, September 3, 1893

On the 3d of September the Emperor, accompanied by the Crown Prince of Italy, paid a visit to Metz. To Burgomaster Halm’s speech of welcome the Emperor replied as follows:

It is with a heart deeply stirred that I enter the city of Metz, and if I could not come last year, as I wished,[7] I see, nevertheless, that the reason[81] for my remaining away has been rightly understood.

[7] The Emperor came to Metz ordinarily to review the Eighth and Sixteenth Army Corps. Because of the cholera scare, the imperial manœuvres had not taken place in the previous year, 1892. The Emperor, who was anxious to conciliate his subjects, had taken up a domain in Urville.

I rejoice to see the monument to my late grandfather at length finished and to be able to allow my troops to pass before it. Metz and my army corps are a corner-stone in the military might of Germany, destined to protect the peace of Germany—yes, of all Europe—and it is my firm purpose to maintain this peace.

I thank the city of Metz for its festive welcome, and I pray you that my thanks be made known to the citizens through an official announcement. If I have removed my headquarters to Urville it is because as a landholder in Lorraine I could not do otherwise, since my subjects in this province wish to have me there. In token of my imperial favor I extend to the burgomaster a golden chain of office which the burgomasters of Metz shall be entitled to wear from this time forth. It gives me especial pleasure, however, to be able to bestow this chain upon the present burgomaster.


Berlin, October 18, 1894

Through a reorganization of the army which was to be made effective in the next legislative session, a large number of partial bodies of troops were created which were later to be increased to[82] bring up the peace footing of the army from 538 whole and 173 half battalions to 624 whole battalions. Every two of these constitute a regiment and every two regiments a brigade. On the anniversary of the battle of Leipzig the Emperor, in the presence of a large number of princes, including the young King of Servia, turned over flags to these troops. His statement that the only pillar upon which the empire rested was the army was strongly resented by many of his loyal subjects of the empire who happened to be merely peaceful merchants or farmers or laborers. The Emperor was doubtless provoked into making the statement from the fact that some of his legislative policies had met with determined opposition on the part of representatives of the people. This he has always regarded as disloyalty and as boding disaster to the empire. Since the army’s tradition for loyalty to the imperial war lord renders opposition here impossible, he saw in it the only salvation of the state.

In order that they may serve as a shining symbol of glory for the troops, we have had the blessing of Heaven called down upon the ensigns which I have bestowed upon every fourth battalion of my regiments, and I now turn them over to the regimental commanders and to the regiments themselves. This inspiring day is one whose memories move the world and which marks an epoch[83] in our German history. I first salute the mausoleum of him[8] whose birthday was once wont to fill the entire German Fatherland with jubilation, the mausoleum of him to whom it was granted to win glorious victories under the eyes of the great, heroic Emperor, his father, and to cover the flags which were consecrated in 1861 with glory. They were nailed to their staffs in the rooms in which the history of Brandenburg and Prussia is immortalized in paintings. The monuments of the rulers and of the generals who created the glory of Prussia have looked down upon them. These flags have now been brought before the monument of the Prussian King who focussed the eyes of the world upon them in years of fierce conflict and whose last breath was a wish of blessing for his army. In the year 1861, when my grandfather undertook the reorganization of his arms, he was misunderstood by many and attacked by even more; nevertheless, the future gave him his splendid justification. Just as at that time, so now, too, distrust and discord are rife among the people. The only pillar on which the empire rested was the army. So is it to-day! The flags which are assembled here are destined for entire bodies of troops, and I hope that the half battalions to which they are to-day delivered[84] will soon stand as entire battalions in the army of the Fatherland.

[8] Emperor Frederick III.

But you, gentlemen, now take over these ensigns and with them the obligation of maintaining the tradition of devotion, of discipline unto death, of unconditional obedience toward the war lord against all inward and outward enemies. Even as heretofore, may the blessing of the Most High rest upon our army, and may the watchful eyes of our ancestors look down upon and protect Prussia’s army and her flags! With God for King and Fatherland!


Kiel, December 3, 1894

It is part of the Emperor’s duty to administer the oath every year to the recruits for the navy as well as to the recruits for the guard. He is inclined to talk to them usually in very simple language, as here, for instance. Indeed, though they are usually twenty years of age, he often addresses them as the “children of my guard.”

The oath is holy, and holy is the place in which you swear it. The altar and the crucifix bear witness to this; it means that we Germans are Christians, that we at all times first give the glory to God in every affair that we undertake, especially[85] in the highest—that of strengthening the defense of the Fatherland. You wear the uniform of the Emperor; you are thereby preferred over other men, and take your rank equally with your comrades of the army and navy; you receive a special place and assume obligations. By many you will be envied because of the uniform which you wear; hold it in honor, and do not besmirch it; this you will accomplish best when you think of your oath—you especially, you people of the sea, who so often have the opportunity in your various journeyings upon the water to learn to know the almighty power of God!

Wherein lies the secret of the fact that we have often overcome our adversary with lesser numbers? In discipline. What is discipline? Single-hearted co-operation, single-hearted obedience. That our ancient forebears already clung to this ideal a single example will show: On one occasion they were marching to war against the Romans. They had climbed over the mountain and found themselves suddenly face to face with the huge masses of the army. Then they realized what a difficult moment was before them. They first prayed, giving God the glory, and then, bound together with chains, side by side, they fell upon the enemies and conquered them. To-day we no longer need the actual chains; we have a powerful[86] religion and our oath. Remain true to it, and think of it, whether you are within the country or without. Hold your colors high, the black, white, and red which here stand before you, and think of your oath, think of your Emperor.


Kiel, March 26, 1895

The Emperor, as will be plain, took much satisfaction in the development of his navy and was to make innumerable addresses on these occasions. The present is a fair type of a number of the shorter speeches. Very soon they were to become occasions in which he was to broach the idea of the greater navy. The present address will serve to illustrate the spirit he was hoping to instil into this branch of the service.

As a testimony to the industry of the Fatherland, after the diligent labors of the imperial dockyards, this vessel now stands before us ready to be given over to its element. Thou shalt now be enrolled in the German navy. Thou shalt serve in the protection of the Fatherland to bring defiance and annihilation to the enemy. The names of the ships which belong to the same class are taken from the old Germanic sagas. Therefore thou also shalt hark back to the ancient time of our ancestors, to the powerful divinity who[87] was worshipped and feared by all our German seafaring forefathers and whose mighty realm stretched from the north even unto the south pole, in whose province the northern battles were fought, and whence death and destruction were brought into the land of the enemy. Thou shalt bear the name of this great and mighty god. Mayst thou prove thyself worthy of it! So do I christen thee with the name of Ægir.


Friedrichsruh, March 26, 1895

Historians of modern Germany have discussed and explained in various ways the causes of the retirement of Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor.” From the moment he became “Minister President and Minister of Foreign Affairs,” in 1862, his hand was the hand that guided German policy, and his was the genius that presided over and shaped the unification of Germany and the building of the empire. It has been truly said that the biography of Bismarck is the history of German union. He had been born in Brandenburg and spent his life in the service of the Prussian Kings. It was he who in the dark days preceding the victories of the sixties had given William I heart and had prevented him from giving up his task. It was, therefore, a great shock to the German world to learn that, two years after the accession of William[88] II, the great founder of German unity had been forced into retirement. There had been rumors of previous disagreements. The German Chancellor is responsible not to the Reichstag but solely to the Emperor; he takes the responsibility of shaping the imperial policy. It was said that Bismarck resented certain interference with his authority in his own cabinet. It is certain that he looked with disfavor on the Emperor’s policy with regard to labor legislation. With regard to the attitude toward Russia there was likewise disagreement, and Bismarck opposed the Emperor’s visit to Constantinople. But aside from these questions of policy, there were deep psychological incompatibilities. Crabbed age and romantic youth could not live together. Furthermore, the Emperor wished to take the credit for initiating and carrying through his own policies. He was not content to be a shadow king. Bismarck, after nearly forty years of service, was not willing to be a puppet chancellor. He insisted on the form of cabinet government decreed in 1852. The Emperor’s disposition of mind may be gathered from the following extracts from a speech delivered shortly before Bismarck’s retirement, and it should be remembered that at this time Bismarck was far from being an enthusiastic supporter of certain measures then taking shape in the mind of William II. On the 5th of March, 1890, the Emperor announced to the Brandenburgers: “All those who wish to help me in this work I bid heartily welcome, whoever they may be; but all those (whoever they may be) who op[89]pose me in this work I shall smash to pieces” (zerschmettern). Bismarck was forced to offer his resignation two weeks later. Besides his ducal title, he was given the honorary title of general of cavalry, with the rank of field-marshal. Because of his opposition, he was treated in the following years with extreme coolness and occasionally as an enemy. The German ambassador at Vienna was instructed from Berlin, on the occasion of the marriage of Bismarck’s son, not to accept an invitation to the wedding. Foreign ambassadors were informed that for the Emperor there were two Bismarcks: the former responsible servant and the present irresponsible subject. The honors given him were not generally honors due a great ex-chancellor, but honors due a military officer. “Living,” said Bismarck, “they give me the honors of the dead.” On this, his eightieth birthday, the Reichstag voted down the proposal that they send him their congratulations. The Emperor, with an exclusively military suite, however, paid him this visit and presented him with a sword engraved with his arms and with the arms of the conquered provinces, Alsace-Lorraine. In all probability, Bismarck felt the lack of mention of his services as Chancellor; his entirely diplomatic reply printed below would seem to indicate this.

Your Highness:

Our whole Fatherland decks itself out to celebrate your birthday. This day belongs to the[90] army. Its first duty is to do honor to its comrades, to its old officers, whose efficiency made it possible for it to carry through the mighty deeds which found their reward in the crowning of a regenerated Fatherland.

The military host which stands gathered here is a symbol of the whole army, especially this regiment which has the honor of calling your Highness its commander, and especially that standard which reminds us of the fame of Brandenburg and Prussia, which dates from the time of the Great Elector and is consecrated by the blood shed at Mars-la-Tour. Your Highness will see in spirit, behind this gathering of troops, the collected army of the entire German race in battle array to celebrate this day with us.

In sight of this host, I come now to present to your Highness my gift. I could find no better token than a sword, this noblest weapon of the Germans; a symbol of that instrument which your Highness with my late grandfather helped to shape, to sharpen, and also to wield; the symbol of that great, powerful period of building whose mortar was blood and iron; that weapon which is never dismayed and which, when necessary, in the hands of kings and princes will defend against internal foes that unity of the Fatherland which it had once conquered from the foes without.[91] May your Highness be good enough to notice the linking of your arms with those of Alsace-Lorraine here engraved and feel again all that history which found its conclusion in the events of twenty-five years ago!

But we comrades call out: His Highness, Prince Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Bismarck replied with more pith:

Your Majesty will allow me to lay my humblest thanks at your feet. My military position with regard to your Majesty does not permit me to further express my feelings to your Majesty. I thank your Majesty.


Kiel, June 21, 1895

In furthering Germany’s economic and industrial development, the building of canals has served an important function in reducing the cost of transportation and in making possible competition with other nations. Although the Emperor William Canal was an idea of Bismarck’s, his name is not here mentioned. Emperor William II has taken a very lively interest in this de[92]velopment of inland waterways and has rendered a great service to the industrial development of his country in this regard.

In memory of Emperor William the Great, I baptize the canal “Emperor William Canal.”

The Emperor then accompanied his three hammer strokes with the following words: “In the name of the Triune God, to the honor of Emperor William, to the blessing of Germany, and to the welfare of the people!”

He proposed this toast at the banquet:

I behold with pleasure and with pride this brilliant and festive gathering, and in the name of my honored colleagues I bid you all, the guests of the empire, most heartily welcome. We wish to express our inmost thanks for the interest you have taken in the completion of a work which, begun in peace and accomplished in peace, is to-day given over to general trade.

It is not only in our own day that the idea first existed of joining the North and Baltic Seas by a great canal; far back in the Middle Ages we find drafts and plans for the working out of this undertaking. In the past century the Eider Canal was built, which, while it affords a wonderful example of the ability of that day, still, as it was intended only for the passage of the smaller craft, could not[93] satisfy the increased demands of the present day. It remained for the newly founded German Empire to find a satisfactory solution for this great problem.

It was my immortal grandfather, his Majesty, Emperor William the Great, who, thoroughly appreciating the significance of the canal for increasing the national welfare and strengthening our defense, devoted his unflagging interest to the plan for the building of an effective waterway between the North and the Baltic Seas and for overcoming the many obstacles which stood in the way of its accomplishment. Joyfully and confidently the affiliated rulers of the empire, as well as the Reichstag, followed the imperial initiative, and for eight years the work was industriously carried on which, as it approached completion, aroused in ever-increasing measure the public interest. What technic on the basis of its great development has been able to accomplish, what was possible through pride and joy in the work, what finally could be done in promoting the welfare of the numberless workers engaged in the task, in accordance with the principles of the humane social politics of the empire, has been accomplished in this undertaking. Therefore the Fatherland dare rejoice with me and my noble colleagues in the success of this enterprise.


However, we have worked not only for our own interests. In accordance with the great cultural mission of the German people, we open the locks of the canal to the peaceful trading of the nations with each other, and it will give us great satisfaction if its increasing use shall prove not only that the intentions by which we were led are understood but that they are becoming fruitful in increasing the welfare of the people.

The interest in our celebration on the part of the powers whose representatives we see among us, and whose magnificent ships we have to-day admired, I greet with greater joy the more I have the right to see in it the complete justification of our efforts directed toward the righteous maintenance of peace. Germany will also place the work inaugurated to-day in the service of peace and will consider herself fortunate if the Emperor William Canal strengthens and promotes in this service for all time our friendly relations with the other powers.

I empty my glass to the friendly sovereigns and powers. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!



June 16, 1896—March 22, 1905


Berlin, June 16, 1896

It is difficult to fix any definite date at which any new movement in politics may be said to have begun. Toward the close of the year 1894 there appear unmistakable signs of a new dispensation. In this year Caprivi, Bismarck’s successor as Chancellor, retired in favor of Prince Hohenlohe. The latter appears in his new office for the first time in the session of the Reichstag which opened December 5, 1894. In that session the insufficient protection of Germans residing in foreign lands was repeatedly insisted upon, and the colonizing spirit and the agitation for a very considerable increase in the navy began to make themselves felt. The building of three new cruisers was authorized, but the plan to erect a dry dock at Kiel was rejected. The year 1895 was to be crowded with festivals celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversaries of the victories of the Franco-Prussian War, and there resulted a consequent impetus to what might be called nascent imperialism. This was further stimulated by outward[96] events. In 1895 France, Germany, and Russia intervened between Japan and China, then at war. In 1897 Germany seized and then leased Kiaochow from China for ninety-nine years and intervened in the war between Greece and Turkey on behalf of the Turks. She began, therefore, to take a more prominent part in world politics and definitely entered upon her policy of expansion. The German people felt that this was rendered necessary by the fact that Germany had become a great industrial and exporting nation, whose interests demanded insistence on the “open-door” policy. Her rapidly increasing population (the annual increase was between 800,000 and 900,000) also, we are told, made necessary the creation of new colonies to take care of surplus population and to provide sustenance for those at home who were being drawn off into industrial pursuits.

It should be remembered in this connection, however, that emigration from Germany is very far from being on the increase. It has diminished astonishingly since 1880. In the decade from 1880 to 1890 the annual emigration averaged about 135,000, and in 1881 it reached its highest point, 220,000. In the decade from 1900 to 1910 it never in any one year ran over 37,000 and averaged about 27,000—in other words, it had declined, in spite of the increase in population and in the number of colonies, to one fifth of its former proportions. The figures have only a relative significance. The annual emigration from Belgium, for instance, which has little more than one[97] tenth the population of Germany, was considerably higher, averaging 35,000 annually for the years from 1906 to 1910. The annual emigration from the United Kingdom to places outside of Europe in the same period was approximately 532,000 annually. As, therefore, German emigration has in the last quarter century steadily declined, it may be safely inferred that the problem of finding colonies for her surplus population is not now, at least, a more pressing one for Germany than it was twenty-five years ago.

A conscientious American student of contemporary politics has said quite justly that “the most vital and burning problem in the world to-day” is the problem of Germany’s Weltpolitik. It is not the purpose of this volume to enter into questions of controversy. He who wishes, however, to understand Germany’s position and the Emperor’s position toward the world to-day must consider carefully not only the problem itself but some of its practical implications. In one of his bursts of enthusiasm the Emperor will tell us later[9] that this policy implies that no question in the world—no question of international politics, in other words—is to be decided without Germany. This would mean, strictly interpreted, that no transfer or change of status in colonial possessions—Cuba or the Philippines, for instance—no international canal, like Panama, could be made with[98]out her sanction. And there are those in Germany, like Doctor Liman, who believe that this doctrine should have been more rigidly maintained than had hitherto been the case. A priori, Germany is, of course, as much entitled to the right to pursue such a policy as any other power. Ethically, however—if ethics have any place in the discussion—it must be the result which justifies such a policy: not the results merely to the nation pursuing the policy but the results also to the nation or tribe at whose expense the policy is pursued. In the utilitarian phrase, it must redound to the greater good of the greater number.

[9] “Germany’s greatness makes it impossible for her to do without the ocean—but the ocean also proves that even in the distance, and on its farther side, without Germany and the German Emperor no great decision dare henceforth be taken.” (July 3, 1900.)

A dispassionate consideration of Prussia’s treatment of her dependencies must convince any except the most partisan that her efforts here have been far less successful than those of most other nations, if they are not to be qualified as utter and absolute failures. Chancellor Caprivi had said quite justly that the worst blow an enemy could give him would be to force more territories in Africa upon him. Nevertheless, Germany has since Caprivi’s time and at imminent risk of war acquired further African possessions. The attempt to colonize Africa, begun, as we have seen, by the Great Elector, was Germany’s first venture in this field. Yet at no time did the Germans seem to get on well with the blacks. In the Emperor’s speeches to the Reichstag he has spoken of his desire to introduce Christian customs and Christian morality among the negroes. Yet his attempts here were hardly successful. The Herreros in Southwest Africa revolted and massacred Ger[99]man colonists, sparing the Boers and English who had come before the German occupation. Doctor Gibbons tells us that the suppression of this rebellion took more than a year and cost Germany an appalling sum of money and many lives. But it cost the natives more. Two thirds of the nation of the Herreros were massacred, and, while only six or seven thousand were in arms, the German official report states that forty thousand were killed. The Germans confiscated all the lands of the natives. In 1906, after twenty-one years of German rule, there were in Southwest Africa sixteen thousand prisoners of war out of a total native population of thirty-one thousand. All the natives lived in concentration camps and were forced to work for the government. It may be conceded that Germany’s problem here was a difficult one; it must also be recognized that her policy had been neither of advantage to the natives nor to Germany herself.

In other cases, where the problem would seem to have been simpler, the results have likewise been disastrous. It is not our purpose to give the reasons but to state the facts. After one hundred and twenty-five years of incorporation into Prussia the Poles of East Prussia have in large part not been amalgamated and are still the victims of discriminatory legislation. In judging such a policy it is not merely a question as to whether Alsace-Lorraine, for instance, did or did not once belong to Germany. Morally it is difficult to concede to any nation the right to govern any population which it makes permanently unhappy. After[100] forty-four years the problem of Alsace-Lorraine seemed to be very little nearer a solution than it was at its inception. It is a mistake to believe that the discontent was due principally to the fact that the inhabitants must transfer their allegiance from France to Germany. The discontent was due to the empire’s refusal to give the population rights and status compatible with their self-respect as enlightened subjects of a twentieth-century government. Men of German as well as of French descent, and even German emigrants who were induced to settle in the province since 1870, took part in the opposition. In a recent haphazard list of the “real leaders” of Alsace-Lorraine, we find the following six names: Wetterlé, Preiss, Blumenthal, Weber, Bucher, and Theodor. Of these the last five, at least, are wholly or in part of German descent. Yet the most serious demonstration in Metz since its annexation took place in June, 1910. On July 25 of that same year, for the first time since the University of Strasburg had been re-established by the Germans, a professor was hissed out of his lecture-room; and, as we have seen, in spite of an energetic propaganda by German newspapers, in 1912 more Alsacians enlisted in the French Foreign Legion than in any single year since 1871. The situation in that province has been already discussed in connection with the Emperor’s speech of March 14, 1891. Quite evidently, the problem there was hardly on the way to successful solution in August, 1914. Of course, Germany’s success in colonizing is not the only question to be con[101]sidered with regard to her Weltpolitik. It is, however, an essential factor.

As will be evident from subsequent addresses, it was the Emperor who everywhere gave the initial impulse. Whether or not he involved himself in contradictions here, the student must decide. To certain of his subjects he appeared to be doing so, and it was for this reason that one of his hostile critics, Doctor Liman, tells us in bitterness that German politics of the last twenty years is “a fantastic mixture of tearful longing for peace and an inflated desire for prestige.” (“Der Kaiser,” p. 317.) The present empire had been proclaimed on the 18th of January, 1871, and the anniversary marked the crowning celebration of the year. In his speech the Emperor announces that “The German Empire has become a world-empire.” This may be said to provide the key to his subsequent policy and to mark the dawning of a new era. The address was delivered at a dinner held in the Royal Palace.

The present day, like the entire year in all its festivities, is a day of grateful retrospect. It is a continued high festival of gratitude for and in commemoration of the great departed Emperor. A blessing rests upon the present day, and over it hovers the spirit of him who lies in Charlottenburg,[10] and of him who sleeps in the Friedenskirche.[11] What our fathers had hoped and what[102] German youth in her dreams had sung and desired it was granted to them, the two Emperors, to achieve; working with the princes, it was granted to them to reconquer and re-establish the German Empire. We are privileged gratefully to enjoy its advantages; we have a right to rejoice on the present day. Nevertheless, it is our earnest duty to maintain what the great lords have won for us. The German Empire has become a world-empire. Everywhere in distant quarters of the earth thousands of our countrymen are living. German guardians, German science, German industry are going across the sea. The value of what Germany has upon the seas amounts to thousands of millions. It is your earnest duty, gentlemen, to help to bind this greater German Empire firmly to our ancestral home. The vow which I made you to-day can become truth only if you are animated by a united patriotic spirit and grant me your fullest support. It is my wish that, standing in closest union, you help me to do my duty not only to my countrymen in a narrower sense but also to the many thousands of countrymen in foreign lands. This means that I may be able to protect them if I must. It is with this wish, and deeply conscious of the injunction which is issued to us all—“What you have inherited from your fathers, conquer it in order that you may possess it”—that[103] I raise my glass to our beloved German Fatherland and call out: Long live the German Empire!—once again, may it live!—and a third time, long live the Empire!

[10] Emperor William I.

[11] Emperor Frederick III.


Wilhelmshaven, February 21, 1896

On the occasion of administering the oath to the naval recruits at Wilhelmshaven the Emperor delivered the following address:

In the sight of God and of His servants you have sworn to me the oath of allegiance, and I expect from you that you will become good and sturdy sailors. Keep to what you have sworn, for “one man, one word.” The soldiers of the army frequently have the occasion to show what they have learned and what they are capable of under the eyes of their superiors. This is not true in the navy, for many of you will be for years in foreign waters. But you must not think that on that account my eyes have been turned away from you.

In relation to other navies our own navy is still small, is in the budding stage; but through our discipline we must become strong and by it compensate for all that we lack in material strength. What is discipline? Nothing but the uncondi[104]tional subjection of our own will to a higher will. Even if every one intends to do good, he must none the less subordinate his intention to the good of the whole. Only by holding together can we create a firm body that will be able to accomplish something complete and great.


St. Petersburg, August 8, 1897

The visit which the Czar had paid Emperor William at Breslau the year before (September 5, 1896) had led to unfortunate consequences. The Czar, in his answer to the wishes of the Emperor that the two empires might draw more closely together, had announced, according to the official report, that he was animated by the same traditional sentiments as his Majesty, Emperor William II. Certain important papers printed a reading which made it appear that the Czar had said that he shared the same feelings which had moved his father (who was notoriously anti-German). The State Secretary, Von Marschall, was drawn into an ugly suit as a result. It was stated that the Foreign Office was involved. Although this was not true, it left a decidedly bad impression, and several officials resigned.

On the occasion of the visit of the German Emperor and Empress to St. Petersburg they were greeted by a most friendly address of welcome[105] from the Czar, and Emperor William II was made an admiral of the Russian fleet. On this occasion he offered the following toast to the Russian Emperor and Empress:

In the name of her Majesty, the Empress, and in my own, I thank your Majesty warmly for the hearty and magnificent reception which you have given us and for the gracious words with which your Majesty has so lovingly bid us welcome. At the same time, with deep feeling I would like to lay at the feet of your Majesty my grateful acknowledgment for the renewed and unexpected distinction which your Majesty has conferred upon me in giving me a place in your glorious fleet. This is a particular honor, which I appreciate at its full significance and which is also a distinction conferred very particularly upon my navy. In my appointment as a Russian admiral I see not only an honor conferred upon my person but also a new evidence for the perpetuation of the close relationship, traditional and unshakable, which exists between our two empires. The unalterable decision of your Majesty to preserve now and hereafter peace for your people finds in me also a joyful echo, and wandering together in the same way we two shall strive in concert, under the blessing of this peace, to guide the cultural development[106] of our peoples. My whole people is behind me, I know, as I confidently lay this renewed pledge in the hands of your Majesty—I shall bestow upon your Majesty my most powerful support and stand at your side with all my heart in this great work of preserving the peace for the nations and in directing my strength against any one who might attempt to disturb or break this peace. I drink to the health of their Majesties, the Emperor and the Empress! [These last words the Emperor spoke in Russian.]


Coblentz, August 30, 1897

On this date the Emperor reviewed the great parade of the Eighth Army Corps, under the leadership of the commanding general, the Grand Duke of Baden. At the dinner after the review the Emperor offered the following toast. The address illustrates what Doctor Liman calls the romanticism of the Emperor. He is easily impressed by his surroundings and speaks with particular animation and fervor on the occasions (and they are frequent) in which the memories of his ancestors are brought back to him:

A review in the Rhine country, what an entrancing and what a beautiful picture! But a review on the shores of the River Rhine itself,[107] and in sight of the old historic city of Coblentz—how this appeals to our hearts! The sight of the soldierly sons of the Rhine country, under the command of your Royal Highness, has moved me to deep joy. But it moves me with deep sadness, likewise, for the place on which we stand and the city in which we tarry is a witness to a great time and reminds us of great names and figures.

We, therefore, do not wish to forget that the time[12] which Emperor William the Great spent in Coblentz was of deepest significance, especially for us in the army. Here the work which he was called upon to carry through came to maturity; here it was granted him in quiet retirement to work out the organization of his army, which was often attacked with animosity and often misunderstood but which has so magnificently justified itself. His nation under arms has proved in three victorious wars that he was right.

[12] 1850-7.

And now let us turn from our glance into the past to the present day. The splendid corps which I took from the hands of a general [Vogel von Falckenstein] whose name spelled bravery, whose conduct, chivalry, and whose life, fidelity on the battle-field and in peace, I have now given over to you, the grandson of the great Emperor,[108] the son[13] of the lofty Princess who would not be deprived of the pleasure of appearing here to-day and, in the spirit of her great departed mother, of celebrating and tarrying for a while with us in memories.

[13] The hereditary Grand Duke of Baden at this time was Frederick William, born July 9, 1857, son of the Grand Duke Frederick I and the Grand Duchess Louise-Marie, Princess of Prussia. The Grand Duchess Louise-Marie was the daughter of Emperor William I. The hereditary Grand Duke, who since the death of his father, in 1907, has been reigning Grand Duke of Baden, is therefore a grandson of William I and first cousin of the present Emperor, which will explain the somewhat unusual familiarity of the Emperor’s address.

The corps has been honored by the fact that his Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge, who was for a long time the highest in command of the brave British army, has decided to appear here and to lead before me his gallant historic regiment. I express my hearty thanks to your Royal Highness. The corps, is indeed, highly fortunate in this. We are privileged to greet in the noble person of your Royal Highness an associate, a contemporary of our departed great Emperor, about whom I know particularly that he always spoke with deepest respect and greatest friendship of your Royal Highness, and that he always praised your Royal Highness’s military achievements.

My dear Fritz [turning to his Royal Highness, the hereditary Grand Duke], to-day’s parade does you and the corps great honor in every respect,[109] and we can say with a clear conscience that the sons of the Rhineland who have marched by to-day will do their duty as completely, and that they are as well trained and as brave as they were in the time of the great Emperor. It is our duty to maintain, in all its parts, the army, the work of the great Emperor, against every influence and to defend it against every opposition from without, and I hope that every general will be as faithful and as upright as you are, and that he will strive to achieve this aim in his field with as good results as you have done.

With this hope I raise my glass and drink to the health of the Eighth Army Corps and its commanding general. The Eighth Army Corps! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!


Homburg, September 4, 1897

On this day the Emperor reviewed the Eleventh Army Corps, which was under the command of General von Wittich, in the presence of the Empress and of the King and Queen of Italy. At the banquet which followed in the Castle of Homburg, the Emperor offered this toast:

My Dear Wittich:

I am happy to be able to express to you before our royal and princely guests and to the whole[110] army corps my heartiest congratulations on this day. I am pleased to be able to say that the present day in its achievements does not suffer in the least by comparison with the day when, many years ago,[14] the corps defiled before my late grandfather, my dear father, and the late Grand Duke. I thank his Royal Highness, the Grand Duke, for the splendid division which he has led, and I am pleased to see him at the head of the magnificent troops which have done such great things under his father.

[14] September 25, 1883.

A great honor has been conferred upon the corps through the fact that riding at the head of one of his regiments [13th Hessian Hussar Regiment] his Majesty, King Humbert of Italy, has led it before us.

Your Majesty! My army thanks your Majesty whole-heartedly for the great honor which has been conferred upon it. Not only my army but also the whole German Fatherland greets in the person of your Majesty the lofty prince, the close friend of my departed father, the faithful ally, whose coming here shows again to us and to the world that the bond of the triple alliance stands firm and inviolate, the triple alliance which was founded in the interest of peace and which, as time goes on, strikes deeper and firmer root in the[111] consciousness of the peoples, in order finally to bring forth greater fruit.

In deepest gratitude I bid the great Queen welcome in the name of my people. We rejoice that she has not disdained to come here, leaving behind her her repose and her activities dedicated to art and literature, and that she should have graced with her fair presence this camp of our soldiers. Her Majesty is particularly dear and precious to us Germans, because she is like the image of the great constellation to which her people and Fatherland look up with confidence; because the artist, the wise man, the musician, and the student always have free access to her, and because under the protection of her Majesty so many a German can fulfil his life devoted to learning and so many an invalid can go in search of his health to the beautiful sunny south.

With a whole heart I bid you both welcome, and call out with my Eleventh Corps: Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Italy!—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!


Berlin, October 18, 1897

On this occasion sixty-three new flags were dedicated to the newly formed regiments of the guard,[112] of the First to the Eleventh and of the Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Army Corps. The Emperor and people celebrate this anniversary of the battle of Leipzig, 1813, with particularly patriotic demonstrations, and he almost invariably makes it the occasion for a military address. After the religious ceremony the Emperor addressed the following words to his troops:

The flags which have just now been consecrated before the altar of God and which have received His blessing I now turn over to the new regiments which spring from their old and proved predecessors in accordance with the custom of our army, which forever renews itself and its youth out of the ranks of its older and proved regiments. I do this in a hallowed place, before the statue of the great King and before the windows of the great Emperor. If the site is holy, so too is the day. It is the anniversary of the great victory after which the German people for the first time dared look forward in prospect to the dawn of coming union and the future greatness which was conditioned thereby. The day on which, for everlasting memory, the October fires leap from Germany’s hills is the birthday of the heroic first German Crown Prince and of the second German Emperor.[15]

[15] Frederick III.


Out of the old and proved regiments which he led to battle and victory the shoots have been taken for these new ones to which I now turn over their field insignia. May Almighty God, who has ever been so faithful and well intentioned to our Prussia and to the whole German Fatherland, help always to maintain the vows of the thousands of German youths who shall stream from the circles of the people to these new flags and who before them shall swear their oath of allegiance!

I hope that in these regiments the qualities of the great Emperor will live on—the absolutely unselfish devotion to the whole, the unreserved sacrifice of one’s own capacity, bodily as well as spiritual, for the honor of the army and for the safety of the beloved Fatherland. Then, I am convinced, will the foundations remain firm and intact in these new regiments, the foundations upon which the discipline of our army rests—bravery, sense of honor, and absolute and unconditional obedience.

This is my wish for the new regiments.


Berlin, November 18, 1897

After the administering of the oath to the recruits of the garrisons of Berlin, Charlottenburg,[114] and Spandau by the representatives of the Evangelical and the Catholic churches, the Emperor took the occasion to deliver the following admonition:

To-day I greet you as soldiers of my army, as grenadiers of my guard. With the oath to the flag you have sworn allegiance as German men, and even before the altar of God, under the open skies, and upon His crucifix, as good Christians must. He who is not a good Christian is not a brave man and no Prussian soldier; and he cannot fulfil under any circumstances what is demanded of a soldier in the Prussian army.

Your duty is not easy; it demands of you self-control and self-abnegation, the two highest qualities of a Christian, and in addition unconditional obedience and subordination to the will of those who are appointed above you.

But you have examples before you out of the history of the German army. Thousands before your time have sworn their oath and kept it. And because they did keep it our Fatherland has become great and our army victorious and unconquerable. Because they kept their oath, their flags stand before you, garlanded with honor and covered with the tokens of glory, and wherever they are shown, heads are uncovered and regiments present arms.


In the time of your service temptation will surely draw near to many of you. If it does approach, either with regard to your personal conduct or with regard to your relationship as a soldier, turn it from you with the thought of the past of your regiments; turn it from you with the thought of your uniform, which is the uniform of your King. Whoever offends against the uniform of the King lays himself open to the most grievous punishments. Wear your uniform in such wise that you will compel respect from the world and from those who oppose you.

My glorious ancestors look down upon you from the vaulted heavens. The monuments of the Kings look down upon you and, above all, the statue of the great Emperor. When you are discharging your service remember the grievous times through which our Fatherland had to pass; remember them when your labor seems heavy and bitter. Stand firm in your inviolable faith and trust in God who never forsakes us. Then will my army and especially my guard be equal to its task in all times, whether in peace or war.

It is now your task to stand faithfully by me and to defend our highest possessions, whether against enemies from without or from within, and to obey when I command and never to forsake me.



December 15, 1897

In accordance with her general colonial policy, Germany had for some time been attempting to obtain a footing in China. Already in 1895 the German consul-general had arranged an agreement with the Chinese authorities which was to allow the establishing of a base at Hangchow. German explorers had examined the coast and had noticed the favorable situation of the harbor of Kiaochow. In November, 1897, two German Catholic missionaries were murdered. Admiral Diedrichs, who is remembered in America for his interference with Admiral Dewey at Manila Bay, resolved upon immediate action, steamed into the harbor of Kiaochow and took possession of the island of Tsingtao. He announced the occupation of the bay and of all the islands and dependencies on November 15. An indemnity of 200,000 taels was demanded, as well as the repayment of the expenses of the occupation, a ninety-nine year lease of the captive territory, and the cession of all mining rights and railway privileges. All this was granted, and Germany made good use of her privileges. At the outbreak of the European war the country had been developed and reclaimed to such a degree that Tsingtao with its buildings and forts looked like a bit of Prussia set into the Chinese coast.


Through her occupation of this rich province and through the fact that Germany thus established a naval base opposite Japan’s coast, she incurred the ill will of Japan. This ill will was later to be increased through Germany’s conduct with regard to commerce regulations. At the time of the occupation Germany declared that Tsingtao was to be a port open to all the world. Subsequent regulations which she had made amounted to very serious discrimination against the commerce of other nations, especially that of the Japanese, which had already attained considerable importance. A plan was evolved in 1906 according to which Chinese customs duties were allowed to be collected in the colony in return for an annual consideration, which amounted to twenty per cent of the entire customs duties of the Tsingtao district. In this way, what she allowed China to collect from German merchants she forced China to pay back to her. Other merchants were, of course, likewise forced to pay the duties, and Germany received a considerable percentage of the toll. The discrimination, if not obvious, was very real, and the feeling of the Japanese distinctly hostile.

Prince Henry was sent out to take command of the increased East Asiatic Squadron on December 16, 1897, and took command in the following March. On the eve of his departure a great farewell dinner was given him in the Royal Palace at Kiel. The Emperor spoke as follows:


My Dear Henry:

As I rode into Kiel to-day I thought of the many times on which I had visited this city joyfully at your side and on my ships, either to be present at the sports or at some one of our military undertakings. On my arrival in the city to-day an earnest and deep feeling moved me, for I am perfectly conscious of the task which I have set before you and of the responsibility which I bear. But I am likewise conscious of the fact that it is my duty to build up and carry farther what my predecessors have bequeathed to me.

The journey which you are to undertake and the task which you are to accomplish indicate nothing new in themselves; it is merely the logical consequence of what my departed grandfather and his great Chancellor inaugurated politically and what our glorious father won with his sword on the field of battle. It is nothing more than the first expression of the newly united and newly arisen German Empire in its tasks beyond the seas. The empire has developed so astonishingly through the extension of its commercial interests that it is my duty to follow up the new German Hansa and to give it the protection which it has a right to expect from the empire and the Emperor.

Our German brothers of the church who have[119] gone out to their quiet work and have not spared risking their lives in order to spread and make a home for our religion on foreign soil have placed themselves under my protection, and it is now a question of providing support and safety for these brothers who have been so often insulted and oppressed. For that reason the undertaking which I intrust to you and which you must fulfil in company with your comrades and the ships which are already out there is really one of protection and not one of defiance. Under the protecting banner of our German flag of war we expect that the rights which we are justified in demanding will be guaranteed to our commerce, to the German merchant, and to German ships—the same right which is vouchsafed by strangers to all other nations.

Our commerce is not new; in old times the Hanseatic League was one of the most powerful enterprises which the world has ever seen, and the German cities were able to build a fleet such as the sea’s broad back had never carried in earlier days, but finally it came to naught because the one condition was lacking, namely that of an Emperor’s protection. Now things have changed; the first condition, the German Empire, has been created; the second condition, German commerce, flourishes and develops, and it can only develop[120] properly and securely if it feels itself safe under the power of the empire. Imperial power means sea power, and sea power and imperial power are so interdependent that the one cannot exist without the other.

As a token of this imperial sea power the squadron which has been strengthened by your division must now take its place, with all the comrades of the foreign fleet out there in close relationship and on good terms of friendship, but for the purpose of protecting our particular interests against every one who might be tempted to intrude upon the right of the Germans. That is your task and your mission.

Make it clear to every European there, to the German merchant, and, above all things, to the foreigner in whose country we are or with whom we have to deal, that the German Michel[16] has set his shield, decorated with the imperial eagle, firmly upon the ground. Whoever asks him for protection will always receive it. And may our countrymen out there cherish the firm conviction, whether they are priests or merchants or whatever profession they follow, that the protection of the German Empire as exemplified in the Emperor’s[121] ships will continuously be granted them! But if any one should undertake to insult us in our rights or to wish to harm us, then drive in with the mailed fist and, as God wills, bind about your young brow the laurels which no one in the entire German Empire will begrudge you!

[16] The German Michel is the proverbial representative of the German character, as Uncle Sam is of the American or John Bull of the English. He is usually pictured as a simple, good-natured fellow.

In the firm conviction that you, following good examples—and, God be praised, examples are not wanting in our house—will carry out my thoughts and wishes, I raise my glass and drink it to your health, with the wish for a good voyage, for a happy issue to your task, and for a joyous return. Long live his Royal Highness, Prince Henry! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!


Potsdam, June 16, 1898

On the day of the tenth anniversary of his coming to the throne the Emperor assembled the regiments of the guard in the gardens of Potsdam and made them the following address:

The most important heritage which my noble grandfather and father left me is the army, and I received it with pride and joy. To it I addressed my first decree when I mounted the throne. As I enter into the next decade of my reign I again[122] address it in these words: You who are now assembled here constitute the 1st Infantry Regiment of the guard, in which I grew up; the Regiment of the Gardes du Corps, the most distinguished regiment of the cavalry body-guard of the Prussian Kings; the Hussar Regiment of the Body-Guard, which I have always commanded; and the Cadet Corps of the Infantry Battalion, which represents the entire army and which in Potsdam enjoys the honor of providing the guard for the King and his house.

Perhaps never did an army suffer such severe loss as in the year 1888. Never has an army lost in the course of a single year two such powerful leaders crowned with laurel and honor, who were at the same time its war lords.[17] I look back gratefully upon the years which have passed since that time.

[17] It is interesting to note that the Emperor here himself explicitly makes the distinction between commander of an army, Heerführer, and war lord, Kriegsherr, a title which can only be bestowed upon the Emperor.

Seldom has so difficult a task fallen to the lot of a successor who in a brief period had been forced to see both his grandfather and his father carried away by death. The crown was weighed down with heavy cares. Every one lacked confidence in me; everywhere I was falsely judged. One alone believed in me, one alone had faith—[123] that was the army. And leaning upon her, trusting upon our old guard, I took up my heavy charge, knowing well that the army was the main support of my country, the main support of the Prussian throne, to which the decision of God had called me. I therefore turn to you first to-day and express to you my congratulations and my gratitude, and in these expressions I include likewise with you all your brothers in the army. I am of the firm conviction that, through the self-sacrificing devotion of the officers and men in their faithful work of peace, the army during the last ten years has been maintained in the same condition in which I received it from my departed predecessors.

In the next ten years, faithfully bound together, let us seek further the unconditional fulfilment of our duty in old and unremitting labor, and may the main supports of our army remain forever intact! They are courage, sense of honor, and unconditional, iron, blind obedience.

That is my wish which I to-day address to you and with you to the entire army.


Friedrichsruh, August 2, 1898

After the founding of the German Empire Prince Bismarck, who initiated and carried through[124] many of the policies which brought great prosperity to the German people, was looked upon with much favor and enjoyed great popularity. Emperor William II, as has been noted, dismissed him from his post as Imperial Chancellor in the second year of his reign. His attitude toward Bismarck has already been discussed (March 26, 1895). In most of his speeches which recount the progress of the empire the Emperor is strangely silent about this great figure in German history. When Bismarck died, however (July 30, 1898), the Emperor immediately interrupted his journey into the north and returned on the second of August to pay his respects at the bier of the first Imperial Chancellor in Friedrichsruh. On the same day he issued the following statement which appeared that evening in the special edition of the Reichsanzeiger.

It is noticeable that on this occasion the Emperor speaks of his grandfather as “William the Great.” His tendency to set his ancestors upon lofty pedestals and to praise them somewhat extravagantly finds expression in many of the speeches. He was very desirous of having his grandfather called by this title, and here as everywhere took the initiative. His lead, however, was not generally followed. When the city of Hamburg erected a monument to William I the pedestal was left without an inscription. This has been explained by the fact that they were unwilling to say, “William the Great,” and afraid to say merely, “William I.”


With my lofty peers and with the whole German people I stand in mourning at the bier of the first Chancellor of the German Empire, Prince Otto von Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg. We who were witnesses of his masterly work, who looked upon him as the master of statecraft, as the fearless champion in war as in peace, as the most devoted son of his Fatherland and most faithful servant of his Emperor, are deeply shaken by the demise of the man in whom the Lord God created the implement with which to carry into effect the deathless idea of Germany’s union and greatness.

At this moment it is not fitting to recount all the deeds which the great departed accomplished, all the cares which he bore for the Emperor and the empire, all the successes which he won. They are too powerful and manifold, and only history can and will engrave them upon her brass tablets.

But I feel constrained to make some expression before the world of the whole-hearted grief and grateful reverence which to-day fill the entire nation and, in the name of the nation, to make a vow that what he, the great Chancellor, built up under Emperor William the Great I shall maintain and develop and, if need be, defend with our possessions and our blood.


In this may the Lord God help us!

I commission you to bring to public attention this, my decree.

William, I. R.

To the Imperial Chancellor.


The Emperor on Shipboard in the Autumn of 1898


Stettin, September 23, 1898

A previous address shows that in the mind of the Emperor the idea of world-empire carried with it the idea of naval supremacy. In this period he was increasingly interested in the industrial and especially the naval and maritime expansion of Germany. A number of his speeches take up this subject; so, for instance, he was present at the opening of the new harbor at Stettin and delivered this address:

With full heart I congratulate you on your completed work. You began with a fresh spirit of daring. You were able to begin it, thanks to the interest of my departed grandfather, the great Emperor, who built the iron girdle around the city. After the moment when this iron mantle fell you could take a larger and wider point of view. You did not delay but carried it out with real Pomeranian recklessness and obstinacy. You have succeeded, and I am pleased that the[127] old Pomeranian spirit has again come to life in you and has driven you from the land upon the water.

Our future lies upon the water, and I am deeply convinced that this work which you, Herr Burgomaster, have carried out with foresight and care and energy will always be linked with your name, even after centuries, by the grateful citizens of the city of Stettin and that your work will always be recognized.

But I, as lord of the land and King, express my thanks to you that you have brought the city of Stettin to such a flourishing position. I hope and expect, yes, I might say, I demand, that she shall go on developing at this same rate, not divided by party strife and with her glance fixed upon the great whole, in order that she may come to a state of development such as has never yet been achieved. That is my wish!


Bethlehem, October 30, 1898

On the 12th of October, 1898, the Emperor and Empress set out on their journey to the Holy Land, accompanied by many representatives of the church. In Venice they visited the Italian King and Queen and passed on by way of Messina and Constantinople. They reached Jerusalem[128] on October 29. During his stay at Constantinople the Emperor obtained the rights to a piece of land, the Dormitio Sanctæ Virginis, and turned it over to the German Catholics in Jerusalem. On November 4 they began their return journey via Damascus. Though the dedication of the Church of Our Redeemer constituted the ostensible object of the visit, the Emperor had also other purposes in mind. He took the occasion to announce that he would protect the interests of all Germans of whatever faith. This is the more significant when we remember that up to this time the French had always been allowed to assume the duty of protecting the Catholics there. The Emperor likewise had in mind increasing his prestige in the East. One of the outward indications of the growing friendliness between Turkey and Germany which was then strengthened may be found in the fact that the building of the Anatolian railway was intrusted to a German company, to which was also granted a concession for a harbor and permission to extend the line through Bagdad to Bassora.

It will be noted that the approach to Jerusalem aroused a very unfavorable impression in the Emperor. Nevertheless, he had somewhat unusual preparations made for his entrance. The old walls of the sacred city were breached in order to allow him to make his entry in imperial state. In pursuance of his policy as a world-emperor he attempted during his visit, as we have seen, both by his acts and by his speeches, to conciliate all sects and creeds; the Catholics through the grant[129] of land, which likewise pleased the Centre or Catholic party at home; the Evangelicals through the dedication of a church; and the Moslems incidentally and through his speech nine days later at Damascus, in the course of which he said: “May the Sultan and may the three hundred million Mohammedans who are scattered over the face of the earth and who recognize him as their caliph be assured of the fact that at all times the German Emperor will be their friend!” This friendship of the Emperor for the Sultan was not to be clouded by the Armenian massacres, nor did the assassinations in Asia Minor evoke any protest. Indeed, we are told by a well-known foreign correspondent that “five days after the great massacre of August, 1896, in Constantinople, when Turkish soldiers shot down their fellow citizens under the eyes of the Sultan and of the foreign ambassadors, William II sent to Abdul-Hamid for his birthday a family photograph of himself with the Empress and his children.” At Damascus, he likewise laid a wreath upon the tomb of Saladin.

After the service in the Evangelical Church at Bethlehem the Emperor gathered about him the Evangelical ministers and made them this address, which was reported by E. Bosse, who at that time was the Prussian Kultusminister.

If I am to give you the impressions of these last days, then I must tell you that, above all, I am very much disappointed. I did not wish to say[130] that here, but after I had heard that the same thing had happened to others also, and among them to my court chaplain, for instance, I no longer wish to hide this from you. It may, indeed, be that the very unfavorable approach to the city of Jerusalem has contributed to this impression, but when one sees such conditions in the holy places and sees how things happen there it cuts one to the quick.

That the emanation of the love of the Creator took place here where we are now standing is a fact of extraordinary import, and yet how little does it correspond to what we have seen! I am, therefore, doubly pleased to have received my first elevating impression in the Holy Land at this service among you. The particular example of Jerusalem warns us insistently that we must suppress as far as possible the slight deviations in our sects, and that the Evangelical Church and the Evangelical creed must put forward a firmly united front here in the East. Otherwise we can accomplish nothing. We can only work through example, through the practice and proof that the gospel is a gospel of love in all quarters of the heavens and that it bears other fruits.

Only the life of Christians can make any impression upon the Mohammedans. No one can[131] criticise them if they have little respect for the Christian name. Our churches divide against each other. Indeed, they must be restrained from quarrelling through the external power of arms. In the political world, under all possible pretexts we take away from them [the Mohammedans] one piece of territory after another, for which we have no justification, so that our influence has been much weakened and we have fallen to a very low level.

And now it is our turn! The German Empire and the German name have now won a consideration in the entire Ottoman Empire such as has never existed before. It is, therefore, for us to show what the Christian religion really is, that the practice of Christian love even toward the Mohammedan, not through dogmas and attempts at conversion but merely through example, is our plain duty. The Mohammedan is a very zealous believer, so that preaching alone will not suffice. But our culture, our institutions, the life which we live before them, the manner of our conduct toward them, and the proof that we are united among ourselves, these alone will have effect.

It is a kind of examination which we must pass for our Protestant faith and our creed. Through this we must give them proof of what Christianity[132] is. In this way we may inspire in them an interest for our religion and for the Christian creed. See to it that this remains so!


Jerusalem, October 31, 1898

The Church of Our Redeemer at Jerusalem was dedicated in the presence of the Emperor by the general superintendent and head court chaplain, Doctor Dryander, of Berlin. The church had been planned by King Frederick William IV. After the dedication there was a special church service, and after the prayer by the general superintendent the Emperor offered the following address:

God has been gracious enough to allow us to dedicate in this city, which is holy to all Christians, and in this place, which is consecrated by labors of true love, a house of worship which we have built to honor the Saviour of the world. Through the building and dedication of the Church of Our Redeemer there has now come to successful issue a plan which my blessed predecessors cherished for more than half a century and sought to carry out as the protectors of the work of love which was founded here in Evangelical interests.


Through the saving power of the love which serves, all hearts should now here be brought to the consideration of those things in which alone the troubled human spirit may find salvation, rest, and peace here and hereafter.

All Evangelical Christians, even far beyond Germany’s borders, are following our service here with closest interest and sympathy. The delegates of the Evangelical congregation and many who share the Evangelical faith from all parts of the world have come with us to this place in order to be personal witnesses to the completion of this work of faith and love through which the name of our great Lord and Saviour is to be glorified and the kingdom of God upon earth to be advanced.

Jerusalem, the lofty city on which our feet are standing, calls to mind memories of the great act of redemption of our Lord and Saviour. She shows us the common labor which unites all Christians, regardless of confessions and nations, in the apostolic faith.

The power which renewed the world through the gospel which originated here drives us to follow Him; it warns us to look up in faith to Him who died for us upon the cross. It warns us to be patient Christians and to carry out the doctrine of unselfish love of our neighbor in regard to all men. It promises us also that if we hold firm to the true[134] teaching of the gospel even the gates of hell shall not prevail against our dear Evangelical Church.

It was in Jerusalem that was born the Light of the World, in whose splendor our German people has grown great and powerful. What the Germanic peoples have become they have become under the protection of the cross upon Golgotha and through the practice of self-sacrificing love of their neighbors. Just as two thousand years ago, so to-day that call, “Peace upon earth,” which voices the earnest hopes of us all, should go forth to all the world.

Not splendor, not might, not glory, not honor, not earthly goods it is that we seek here. We pant, beseech, and strive only for the one highest good, the salvation of our souls, and as I now on this solemn day here repeat the vow of my ancestors who are resting in God, “I and my house, we will serve the Lord,” so I ask you all to make the same vow. Let every one seek according to his position and his calling to bring it about that all those who bear the name of the crucified Lord will live their lives under the sign of His holy name to a victory over all the dark powers which are begotten in sin and selfishness.

May God grant that rich streams of blessing may flow back from here into united Christendom, and that on the throne as in the hut, that at home[135] as abroad, trust in God, love of our fellows, patience in affliction, and thorough labor may remain the brightest jewels of the German people, and that the spirit of peace may permeate and hallow the Evangelical Church more and more.

He, the God of grace, will hear our prayers; that is our expectation. He alone is the strong and safe retreat upon which we build.

“Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.”[18]

[18] Luther’s “Ein’ Feste Burg,” translated by F. H. Hedge.


Brandenburg, February 3, 1899

There is a particular whole-heartedness noticeable in all of the Emperor’s speeches to his hereditary subjects, the Brandenburgers. He seemed to take them most fully into his confidence and expect from them a higher degree of loyalty and understanding. For them he felt a particular kinship. His personal pretensions are, therefore,[136] set forth in these speeches and in those to the Prussians, as for instance in his Königsberg speech (August 25, 1910) with less reserve than usual, if we may speak of reserve in one who shows but little and who is unusually frank and personal in his statements. It is for this reason that these speeches have occasionally been severely criticised by his South German subjects, as for instance by Doctor Liman in his “Der Kaiser.” This address was delivered by the Emperor at a banquet which was given by Doctor von Achenbach, Oberpräsident of Brandenburg Province and Minister of State, to the members of the Provincial Assembly. The wording is taken from the “Reichsanzeiger.” The historical facts here referred to will be found in chapter I.

My Honored President and Dear Men Of Brandenburg:

The speech which we have just heard has laid before us in small compass and in patriotic spirit, embellished with poetic flights, the deeds of my house and the history of our people. I think that I speak from the heart of all of you when I say that there were two circumstances which made it possible for my ancestors and my house to discharge their tasks in this way. The first and prime circumstance was the fact that, above all other princes, and even in a time when perhaps such thoughts and feelings were not yet current,[137] they felt and discharged the personal responsibility of the ruler toward Heaven. The second circumstance is the fact that they had behind them the people of the mark. Let us look back to the time when Frederick I had been named Elector and when he exchanged his magnificent Frankish home country for the mark, which at that time was in a condition which we can hardly picture to ourselves even from the description of historians. We can only understand this exchange on the assumption that the ruler felt within himself the call to journey to this land, which had been intrusted to him by the imperial protection in order here to bring about a better-ordered condition, not only for the Emperor’s sake or for his own sake, but he was convinced that the task had been given him from above.

The same conviction we shall find in all of my ancestors. Their great battles without and the development and the making of laws within the country have always been dictated by the thought that they were responsible for the people given over to them and for the country which had been intrusted to them.

Your President has been kind enough to mention our journey to Palestine and the acts which I accomplished there. I dare say that many different impressions of a lofty nature forced them[138]selves upon me, and they were partly religious, partly historical, and partly drawn from modern life, but aside from the celebration in our church (October 31, 1898), the loftiest and the deepest was the consciousness that I was standing on the Mount of Olives, that I was treading upon the very place where the greatest battle which was ever fought out upon the earth, the battle for the salvation of mankind, had been fought out by our Saviour. This fact moved me, as it were, on that same day to renew my oath to the flag above that I would leave nothing untried in order to unite my people and to push aside whatever might be able to divide it.

But as I was tarrying in the far country, and in different places where we Germans feel so keenly the lack of dear woods and beautiful waters, I remembered the lakes of the mark with their dark, clear waves, and the woods of oak and of fir, and I thought to myself that, although in Europe they sometimes looked down upon us, we are none the less much better off in Brandenburg than in foreign countries. And when I think of the tree and of the use we make of it and our love for the woods I am reminded of an incident that is very interesting for us as we begin to develop the empire.

It was after the great and noble achievements[139] of the year 1870-1. The troops had returned home; the tumult and the enthusiasm had subsided, and the old work of founding and developing our newly conquered Fatherland was now to begin. There, for the first time, the three paladins of the great old Emperor, the great General,[19] the powerful Chancellor,[20] and the faithful Minister of War,[21] were sitting together at their common meal. After they had emptied the first glass to the Lord of the Land and to the Fatherland, the Chancellor spoke and turning to his two colleagues said: “We have now achieved everything for which we have striven, suffered, and fought. We have reached the highest point of which we had ever dreamed. What can there now be, after what we have lived through, which shall interest or elevate or inspire us?” There was a pause and then the old master of battles said suddenly, “We can watch the tree grow,” and a deep silence fell upon the room.

[19] Moltke.

[20] Bismarck.

[21] Roon.

Yes, gentlemen! The tree which we watch growing and for which we must care is the German imperial oak. A healthy growth is in store for it because it stands under the protection of the people of the mark in whose land it is rooted. It has lived through many a storm and has often been threatened, but the stalk and the shoot which[140] are sunk in the sands of the mark will, God willing, endure to all eternity!

I can merely vow once again to-day to do everything for it that is in my power! And even the journey to hallowed shrines and places will help me in this, and I shall be better able, therefore, to protect this tree and to watch and foster it, cutting back like a good gardener the branches which are superfluous, and keeping watch upon and exterminating the animals which would gnaw at its roots. I hope that I may then see this picture. The tree will have developed gloriously and before it the German Michel will be standing, his hand upon his sword, and looking out into the distance in order to protect it. That peace stands firm which stands under the shield and under the sword of the German Michel.

It is a magnificent thing to begin with the idea of bringing peace to all the nations; but an error is likely to slip into our calculations. So long as there is unregenerate sin in humanity, so long there will be war and hatred, envy and discord, and one man will try to take advantage of another. But the rules which govern men govern nations also. Therefore we must see to it that we Germans, at least, stand together like a firm block. Far beyond the seas[22] and here in Europe, may [141]every wave that threatens peace break upon this “rocher de bronze” of the German people! But it is the mark and its inhabitants first of all which are called upon to help me in this, and as I assume that it is not hard for you to follow the black and white banner and your red one,[23] so I hope that I shall be understood by you when I say that I intend to look for aid to the mark now and hereafter, and that I count upon its loyal support!

[22] The Spanish-American War was ended by treaty December 10, 1898.

[23] The flag of Brandenburg is a red griffin on a white field.

Therefore I raise my glass and call out: Long live Brandenburg and the inhabitants of the mark. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!


Wiesbaden, May 18, 1899

On the Czar’s birthday the Emperor was present at the banquet given in Wiesbaden, to which the Russian Ambassador, Count Osten-Sacken, had been invited. The Emperor proposed the following toast. On the same day the peace conference at The Hague had been opened and the Russian delegate De Staal had been elected its president. At the end of August, 1898, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs had issued the following communication to all the representatives of the powers in St. Petersburg. “The maintenance of universal peace and a possible reduction of the armaments[142] which burden all nations in the present state of civilization is an ideal for all the world toward which all governments must be directed.” The Czar believed that a conference might achieve this object, and he suggested that they might regulate the reduction of armaments all around and eliminate many of the horrors of war through the establishment of certain humane principles. The programme was presented by Russia on January 11, 1899, and the conference was called on her invitation for May 18 of that year.

Every year I offer my toast to the health of his Majesty, the Emperor of Russia, with deep feeling. To-day I add to it my heartiest good wishes for the success of the conference which owes its inception to his Majesty’s initiative.

My honored Baron, my wish includes the hope that the two tried and experienced statesmen, his Excellency Baron de Staal and Count Münster, may succeed in their efforts and that they may conduct the conference on the old, established tradition which unites my house to that of his Majesty and the German people to the Russian; and by doing so, in accordance with the exactly similar orders which the Emperor and I have issued, that the conference may result to the entire satisfaction of his Majesty.

His Majesty, the Emperor Nicholas! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!



Early June, 1899

Kadinen is one of the Emperor’s many farming estates and is situated in the neighborhood of Elbing, in East Prussia. It was here that he expressed the following sentiment:

Many things must be changed at Kadinen; especially the housing of the laborers must be changed. Here in the east this seems still to be a particular evil. The fine cattle stable in Kadinen is a veritable palace compared to the homes of the laborers. We must see to it that the pigsties are not better than the laborers’ houses.


The Battle-Field of St. Privat, August 18, 1899

The following noble address of the Emperor’s was delivered at the dedication of the monument to the soldiers of the 1st Regiment of the Guard, who fell in the battle of St. Privat (August 18, 1870). In it he speaks of the splendid heroism of the French troops who were fighting for their Emperor. It should be remembered that the monument was erected in the provinces which had been conquered from France by Germany. At this time the Emperor had adopted a conciliatory attitude toward the inhabitants of these provinces.[144] (See speech of March 14, 1891.) If, therefore, it may seem ungracious, it is nevertheless merely just to call attention to the fact that when he later (March 28, 1901) presented a painting of the battle of St. Privat to the Alexander Regiment of the Guard in Berlin he did not mention French heroism and speaks a different language.

Serious and solemn memories surround this day and make our hearts beat high. My 1st Infantry Regiment of the Guard is represented here by my company of the Body-Guard, by its glorious flags, and by many old comrades who once fought and bled in this place. They are to-day to unveil this monument to their fallen comrades. This ceremony will take place in the presence of my youngest regiment,[24] and the troops of the Fourteenth Army Corps, which represent the entire German army.

[24] Infantry Regiment No. 145, garrisoned at Metz.

It has been almost the only regiment which up to the present has not been represented by a monument in this place, where so much blood was shed, and yet it had full claim to be thus commemorated. Through its history it is closely associated with my house, and it is called upon to train its Princes and Kings, and may therefore be properly regarded as a family and a house regiment. Nevertheless, my imperial grandfather did not hesitate[145] a moment to hazard these troops, which were so dear to him, for the good of the Fatherland.

History teaches us how the regiment fought and bled and respected its oath to the flag and how its conduct, its sufferings, and its losses won the praise and the tears of the great Emperor.

With me as its oldest comrade the regiment now erects this shaft to the memory of the heroes that rest beneath the green sod. The form of the monument differs from that which is usually found on battle-fields. The archangel in armor, peacefully at rest, is leaning upon his sword, which is decorated with the proud motto of the regiment, “Semper talis.”[25] I therefore wish that a general significance should be attached to this figure. It stands upon this bloody field as the guardian of all the brave soldiers, both the French and our own, who fell here. For bravely and heroically the French soldiers sank to their honored graves, fighting for their Emperor and their Fatherland. And if our flags touch each other as they are lowered before the bronze monument and sadly rustle over the graves of our dear comrades, may they also wave over the graves of our opponents and whisper to them that in reverent sorrow we remember the brave dead!

[25] By an unfortunate error Penzler prints the motto as “Semper talio”—“Retaliation forever.” The reading has been changed, as the motto of the regiment is in reality “Semper talis”—“Ever the same.”


Let us look up to the Lord of Hosts and thank Him for the guidance graciously given to our great Emperor. Let us picture to ourselves to-day that the souls of all those who once opposed each other in fierce conflict upon this field are now gathered about the throne of the Supreme Judge and that, united in the everlasting peace of God, they now look down upon us.



Many of the speeches which follow will be found to bear upon the question of increasing the navy, and from this time forth, for various reasons, that idea will be uppermost in the Emperor’s mind. His statement that he had, from the first, strongly urged an increase in the navy must be accepted with certain reserves. Such increases as were suggested were slight as compared to the programmes now to be urged, and his speeches of that time give little evidence of any particular insistence or disappointment at his failure in this regard. He really begins to preach the need of the greater navy insistently in the last years of the century, and his present statement, “Bitterly do we need a powerful German fleet,” is his sharpest pronouncement up to this time. It takes on an added significance if we remember that it was made nine days after the Boer ultimatum which began the Boer War had been despatched. In this connection it is well to read the telegram sent[148] to President Krüger, printed with the Daily Telegraph interview (October 28, 1908).

William II had in 1889 divided the admiralty and appointed a naval officer to act as head of the organization and development of the fleet. It was only in the late nineties, however, after the appointment of Admiral Tirpitz, that this work began to go forward with leaps and bounds. That German sentiment was quick to follow the lead of the Emperor is shown by the immense enthusiasm which has made the German Navy League (organized in 1898) so great a success. In 1907 it already counted a million paying members, and its journal, Die Flotte, had a circulation of over 370,000 copies, which is about as large as that of nearly all other important German monthlies combined.[26] Shortly after the disaster of Spion Kop Admiral Tirpitz spoke thus: “We do not know what adversary we may have to face. We must therefore arm ourselves with a view to meeting the most dangerous naval conflict possible.” The preamble to the German navy bill of 1900 reads: “Germany must have a fleet of such strength that a war against the mightiest power would involve risks threatening the supremacy of that power.” Emperor William protests, and there is no reason[149] for doubting his sincerity, that this policy of increasing the navy was not primarily directed at England. It was necessary to protect Germany’s commerce and increase her prestige. On this point his famous interview given to the Daily Telegraph is interesting. Undoubtedly, however, this rapid increase in the navy, which began with the navy bill of 1900 and which happened to coincide with the events of the Boer War, did much to heighten the ill feeling which had already begun to spring up between England and Germany. The idea of increasing the navy met with more general support among the people than any other policy of the Emperor’s, though it called for very decided increases in taxation. How keen was the Emperor’s personal interest in the matter we may judge from the fact that in 1897 he sent to all the members of the Reichstag and innumerable other officials a memorandum comparing the naval strength of Germany, France, Russia, America, and Japan. The appropriation bill of that year calling for 240,000,000 marks was voted with a slight reduction. The sense that the struggle for naval supremacy with England was impending made necessary immensely larger appropriations in the bill of 1900.

[26] These are the figures given by J. Ellis Barker in “Modern Germany.”



Hamburg, October 18, 1899

The Kaiser Karl der Grosse was launched in Hamburg on the 18th of October, 1899. It will be noticed that the Emperor is always careful to observe the anniversaries that commemorate the military prowess, the birthdays, and the achievements of the members of his house. The present date is again an anniversary of the battle of Leipzig, 1813. In the evening the Emperor spoke as follows at the banquet in the Rathaus:

It is with particular pleasure that I find myself among you again on this historic anniversary. It always gives me new strength and vigor when I feel around me the dashing spray and bubbling life of one of the cities of the Hanseatic League. It was a solemn act that we have just witnessed when we gave over to its element a new portion of the floating defense of the Fatherland. Every one who was present must have been impressed with the thought that the proud ship would soon be able to take up its calling. We feel its lack, and bitterly do we need a powerful German fleet.

Its name reminds us of the first glorious days of the old empire and of its mighty protector. The first beginnings of Hamburg date from that time,[151] even though it was merely the point of departure for the missions in the service of the powerful Emperor. Now our Fatherland has been newly united through Emperor William the Great and is in a position to take up its glorious outward development. And right here in this great emporium of trade we feel the sense of power and energy which the German people are capable of putting into their enterprises through the fact that they are bound together and united. But here, too, we can most readily understand how necessary it is that we should have powerful support and that we can no longer continue without increasing our fighting strength upon the seas.

But this feeling penetrates all too slowly into the German Fatherland, which unfortunately wastes its strength in fruitless party strife. I have had to watch with deep concern how slow is the progress of interest in, and political comprehension of, the great world problems among the German people.

If we look about us we can see how in the last few years the face of all the world has been changed. Old world empires are disappearing and new ones are arising. Nations have appeared among the peoples and are taking their place in the competition—nations which previously the layman had scarcely noticed. Events which change the[152] whole field of international relationships and the whole field of our national economy, and which formerly were accomplished only in the course of centuries, now take place in a few months. Through this fact the tasks of the German Empire and the German people have grown greatly in extent and demand from me and my government extraordinary and serious efforts. They can be crowned with success only if the Germans stand behind us firmly united and give up their party divisions. But our people must make up their minds to make sacrifices. Above all things, it must give up the attempt to find the highest by dividing itself more and more sharply into parties. It must cease to put the party above the good of the nation. It must put a check upon its old hereditary failing to make everything the occasion of unrestrained criticism, and it must realize the boundaries which its own vital interests draw for it. For it is precisely these old political sins which are now being visited upon our interests on the sea and upon our fleet. I insistently requested and warned that it must be strengthened in the first eight years of my reign, and if these requests had not been continually refused, and refused in ways which heaped scorn and ridicule upon me, we would have been able to advance our growing trade and our oversea interests far differently.


But my hopes that the German will choose the manlier way have not yet disappeared, for in him love of the Fatherland is great and powerful. The October fires which to-day he lights upon the hills and by which he celebrates the noble figure of the Emperor[27] who was born on this day bear eloquent witness to this fact.

[27] Frederick III.

And, in fact, Emperor Frederick with his great father and his great paladins did help to build a wonderful edifice and left it to us as the German Empire. It stands before us in glory, as it had been yearned for by our fathers and celebrated by our poets! Let us no longer, therefore, as heretofore, dispute uselessly as to how the particular rooms, halls, and apartments of this building are to look or how they are to be furnished; but may the people, burning like these October fires with an ideal enthusiasm, strive to follow its ideal second Emperor, and above all things let it rejoice in the beautiful edifice and help to protect it. Let it be proud of its greatness. Let it be conscious of its inner worth. Let it watch every foreign state in its development. Let it make the sacrifices which our position as a world-power demands. Let it give up the spirit of party and stand united and firm behind its princes and its Emperor—then only will the German people help the Hanseatic[154] cities in carrying out their great work for the benefit of the Fatherland.

That is my wish to-day, and to it and the health of Hamburg I raise my glass.


Berlin, January 1, 1900

The military New Year’s celebration took place near the armory, and the standards of the entire Berlin garrison were for this purpose brought from the Royal Palace. The Empress and her younger children watched the celebration from the windows of the armory.

The first day of the new century sees our army, that is our people under arms, gathered about its standards and kneeling before the Lord of Hosts. And, indeed, if any one has particular cause for bowing down to-day before God it is our army.

A glance at our flags will explain the reason, for they embody our history. At the beginning of the last century what was the position of our army? The glorious army of Frederick the Great had become ossified and was interested only in petty and insignificant details; it was led by generals feeble with age and no longer capable of conducting active campaigns; its corps of officers had lost the[155] habit of invigorating labor; through a life of luxury and comfort and foolish exaltation of self it had fallen asleep upon its laurels. In one word, the army was not only no longer capable of carrying out its task, but had forgotten it.

The punishment of Heaven was grievous, for it was suddenly visited upon our entire people. Cast down into the dust, Frederick’s glory vanished, and the army’s standards were broken. In the seven long years of grievous slavery God taught our people to take thought, and under the pressure of the foot of an insolent conqueror developed the idea of universal military service, the idea that the greatest honor lies in dedicating our services in arms and in sacrificing our blood and our possessions for the Fatherland. My great-grandfather gave the idea form and life, and new laurels crowned the newly established army and her recent flags.

But the idea of universal military service reached its full significance only under our great departed Emperor. In spite of opposition and lack of comprehension he quietly went to work at the reorganization, and at the re-establishment of our army. Victorious campaigns, nevertheless, gave his work an altogether unexpected sanction. His spirit filled the ranks of his army, even as his trust in God carried them on to unheard-of vic[156]tories. With this, his own creation, he brought the Germanic peoples together again and gave us the German unity for which we had prayed. We owe it to him that, thanks to this honor, the German Empire commands respect again and takes up its appointed place in the council of the nations.

It is for you, gentlemen, to cherish and exemplify in the new century the old qualities through which our forefathers gave greatness to the army. This means that you must make few demands in daily life,[28] that you must practise simplicity and give yourselves up unconditionally to the royal service, that you must in ceaseless labor offer all the powers of body and soul to the building up and development of our troops, and,[157] just as my grandfather labored for his land forces, so, undeterred, I shall carry through to its completion the work of reorganizing my navy in order that it may stand justified at the side of my army and that through it the German Empire may also be in a position to win outwardly the place which she has not yet attained.

[28] “To the Americans the pay of the German troops, officers and men, is ludicrously small. It is evident that men do not undertake to fit themselves to be officers, and do not struggle through frequent and severe examinations to remain officers, for the pay they receive. A lieutenant receives for the first three years $300 a year, from the fourth to the sixth year $425, from the seventh to the ninth year $550, and after the twelfth year $600 a year. A captain receives from the first to the fourth year $850, from the fifth to the eighth year $1,150, and the ninth year and after $1,275 a year. Of one hundred officers who join, only an average of eight ever attain to the command of a regiment. In Bavaria and Würtemberg promotion is quicker by from one to three years than in Prussia. In Prussia promotion to Oberleutnant averages 10 years, to captain or Rittmeister 15 years, to major 25 years, to colonel 33 years, and to general 37 years. It would not be altogether inhuman if these gentlemen occasionally drank a toast to war and pestilence.”—Price Collier, “Germany and the Germans.”

When both are united I hope to be in a position, firmly trusting in the leadership of God, to carry into effect the saying of Frederick William I: “If one wishes to decide anything in the world, it cannot be done with the pen unless the pen is supported by the force of the sword.”


Berlin, February 13, 1900

On the occasion of the return of Prince Henry from the Orient, whither he had been sent at the time of the troubles in Kiaochow, the Emperor greeted him at a dinner held in the Royal Palace in Berlin. The question of the imperial foreign policy, as during all this period, is evidently here uppermost in the Emperor’s mind.

Your Royal Highness, My Dear Brother:

I bid you a hearty welcome to our Fatherland and our capital! Two years ago I sent you forth to carry out your task in the far East, and could[158] only hope that God would give you His protection and bring the work to a successful issue. The joyous and enthusiastic reception which all classes in my home city, Berlin, give you is a testimony to the loving interest which our entire people have in the completion of the task which you had set yourself.

But this reception has a still deeper significance. It is an unambiguous indication which proves how deeply the people have come to understand the need of strengthening our sea power. The German people is of one mind with its princes and its Emperor in the feeling that in its powerful development it must set up a new boundary post and create a great fleet which will correspond to its needs.

Just as Emperor William the Great created the weapon by whose help we became again black, white, and red, so the German people is now lending its efforts to forging the weapon through which, God willing and in all eternity, both here and in foreign countries, it will remain black, white, and red.

On your return you find a little lad[29] in the arms of your faithful wife. As sponsor for the growth of our young fleet may you see him grow up to full maturity under the protection of God! Hurrah!

[29] Prince Henry, born January 9, 1900.



Lübeck, June 16, 1900

The opening of the Elbe-Trave Canal took place at Lübeck in the presence of the Emperor. He again took up the question of the development of the German Empire.

On this day I congratulate the city of Lübeck most heartily. First of all I offer my heartiest thanks for the wonderful reception which you prepared for me. I have seen in the attitude and the faces of the citizens how joyously their hearts are moved to-day; for they know that I, too, take a lively interest in all that now moves them. May the canal which they have carried through with their irresistible Hanseatic activity not fall short in any way of their expectations, and I am convinced that it will not do so. You see, as you look upon the completed work, how significant it is that a united German Empire now exists. Its past glories Lübeck owed to the German Emperors, and its present glory it owes to the German Empire, so I hope that everywhere in the empire and among the people the conviction may grow that through the re-establishment and strengthening of the German Empire we are now called upon to carry through those old tasks which could not[160] be accomplished formerly and which were rendered impossible through the unfortunate lack of union of our ancestors.

I hope that in the future, under my protection, Lübeck may continue to develop. I could not express this hope with the same satisfaction if I did not now stand before you joyously buoyed up by the hope that we to-day have the prospect of at last possessing a German fleet.

An Emperor can only undertake to protect a seaport when he is in a position with his cannon to protect her flag, even in the farthermost corners of the world, whether it be that of Lübeck, or of Hamburg, or of Bremen, or of Prussia.

May it be granted us to maintain peace outwardly through our fleet, and may we succeed through the building of the necessary canals within to simplify the problem of transportation! A blessing will certainly always rest upon our waterways.


Kiel, July 3, 1900

The ship of the line “Wittelsbach” was launched on this day. As the house of Wittelsbach is the reigning house of Bavaria, Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria was present at the christening and gave[161] the boat its name. A banquet took place in the evening at the officers’ casino. The Emperor replied to Prince Rupprecht as follows:

I thank your Royal Highness for the friendly words which you have been good enough to address to me.

At the christening of this new ship your Royal Highness has mentioned the support which the house of Wittelsbach has given to the German Emperors. I would like to call attention in this connection to an episode in the early history of our houses.

On the fields before Rome it was granted to one of the ancestors of your Royal Highness in company with one of mine to be made the recipient of a very unusual distinction. Mounted upon their horses and clad in armor, in sight of the hostile squadron of knights, they received the accolade from Emperor Henry VII. The incident is immortalized in a picture upon my yacht Hohenzollern.

The descendants of those princes gave each other assistance at Mühldorf,[30] where the Hohenzoller won the battle for Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria. Just as at that time the houses of Wittelsbach and of Hohenzollern fought side by[162] side for the good of the empire, so now, too, and in the future they will work together.

[30] Battle fought in 1322 between two competitors for the empire, Louis V and Frederick the Fair.

Your Royal Highness has had the opportunity to be present during these days when we came to weighty conclusions and to be the witness of historical moments which mark a new point in the history of our people. Your Royal Highness has been able to convince himself how powerfully the wave beat of the ocean knocks at the door of our people and forces it to demand its place in the world as a great nation; drives it on, in short, to world politics.

Germany’s greatness makes it impossible for her to do without the ocean—but the ocean also proves that even in the distance, and on its farther side, without Germany and the German Emperor no great decision dare henceforth be taken.[31]

[31] See the introduction to chapter IV, “The Beginning of World Politics.”

I do not believe that thirty years ago our German people, under the leadership of their princes, bled and conquered in order that they might be shoved aside when great decisions are to be made in foreign politics. If that could happen the idea that the German people are to be considered as a world-power would be dead and done for, and it is not my will that this should happen. To this end it is only my duty and my finest privilege to use[163] the proper and, if need be, the most drastic means without fear of consequences. I am convinced that in this course I have the German princes and the German people firmly behind me.

It is of great significance that precisely at this time, when Bavarians and Würtembergers, Saxons and Prussians are going into the far East in order to re-establish the honor of the German flag, your Royal Highness should have accepted the honor of the à la suite position to the naval battalion. Just as the house of Wittelsbach took up arms in 1870 to fight for Germany’s honor, for her union, and her imperial dignity, so I hope that the empire may always be assured of the support of this noble race.

As a representative of this noble house I greet your Royal Highness with the wish that the close connection which the à la suite position to my navy now gives you will always maintain your Royal Highness’s interest for our fleet.

I drink to the health of his Royal Highness, Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!


Bremen, July 27, 1900

Events in China touched upon in the speech delivered on December 15, 1897, had finally[164] brought about the Pekin crisis. Baron von Ketteler, the German Minister, had been shot down in the streets on June 20.

The following is one of five speeches which the Emperor delivered on the occasion of the departure of the German troops for China. This particular one was delivered to the troops at Bremen in the presence of the Empress, Princes Eitel Friedrich and Adelbert, Chancellor Hohenlohe, Secretary of State von Bülow, Minister of War von Gossler, and Lieutenant-General von Bessel. Various versions of this speech exist and in many of them the harshness of the Emperor’s expression has been toned down. We give first the version which was printed in the Reichsanzeiger, the official journal, and which seems to have been somewhat edited. In order that the reader may realize more fully the impression conveyed by the Emperor’s farewell address to his troops, we print under it the account which a volunteer of the 1st East Asiatic Regiment of infantry sent home to his family.

Great tasks oversea have fallen to the lot of the newly arisen German Empire, tasks far greater than many of my countrymen have expected. The character of the German Empire makes it a duty for it to protect its citizens no matter how far they may have penetrated into foreign lands. The new German Empire is in a position to discharge the task which the old Roman Empire of the[165] German Nation could not discharge. The instrument which makes this possible for us is our army.

In thirty years of faithful and peaceful labor it has been developed according to the principles of my late grandfather. You too have received your training according to these principles, and are now called upon to give proof before the enemy whether or not you have observed them well. Your comrades of the navy have undergone this trial; they have shown you that the principles of our training are good, and I am proud of the praise which has come from the mouths of foreign leaders, in recognition of the service which your comrades out there have given. It is now for you to do likewise.

A great task is waiting for you. You are to right the grievous wrong which has been done. The Chinese have overthrown the law of nations; in a way which has never been heard of in the history of the world, they have scorned the duties of hospitality and the sanctity of the Ambassador. This is the more revolutionary, as this crime was committed by a nation which is proud of its very ancient culture. Preserve the old Prussian thoroughness; show yourselves as Christians in joyfully bearing your trials; may honor and glory follow your flags and weapons! Give the world an example of manliness and discipline.


You know very well that you are to fight against a cunning, brave, well-armed, and terrible enemy. If you come to grips with him, be assured quarter will not be given, no prisoners will be taken. Use your weapons in such a way that for a thousand years no Chinese shall dare to look upon a German askance. Show your manliness.

The blessing of God be with you! The prayers of an entire people and my wishes accompany you, every one. Open the way for culture once for all!

And now take up your journey! Adieu, comrades!

We here subjoin the account of this speech as given in the letter of a volunteer in the 1st East Asiatic Regiment of infantry:

After the Emperor had gone down the front and had greeted separately every battalion, every division or squadron, he pictured the present situation in eloquent words and called attention to the fact that no crime which so cried to Heaven had been recorded in the history of the world, but he also set in their proper light the difficulties of the task which we had set for ourselves and emphasized the fact that we had before us an opponent equal in equipment and fame but ten times superior in numbers. But, and his words ran about as follows, “you will and must defeat him[167] with the help of God and, indeed, in such a way that the Chinese in thousands of years will not presume to raise his hand against a German”; and his voice became deeply moved and powerful as he spoke the following words: “On the strength of the oath to the flag which you have sworn to me I demand that you give no pardon, that no prisoners be taken, for you shall be the avengers of the abomination which has been committed in this present time.” Then followed certain words of farewell, and the speech of the Emperor which for me and for many others will be unforgettably closed with the phrase, “Adieu, comrades.”




Imperial Limes Museum, Saalburg, October 11, 1900

Limes was the Latin name for the boundary wall extending for about 300 miles from the Rhine to the Danube and separating the Roman Empire from the free Germanic peoples. At Saalburg, in the Taunus Mountains, there stood on the Limes an old Roman citadel which was excavated and restored. The Romanized ceremony at the laying of the corner-stone of the Imperial Limes Museum struck certain German critics as somewhat theatrical. The guards had been drilled to clash their swords on their shields after the manner of the Pretorian guards, the rector of the school[168] offered his homage in Latin verses, and boys whose hair had been dressed in Roman fashion swung their censers. The Emperor’s historical references here about the relation of Germany to Rome are somewhat one-sided. It may be recalled, in connection with the Emperor’s remarks about Augustus and his salutary influence on Germany, that in the Forest of Teutoburg there is a great monument to commemorate the fact that the united German tribes, struggling victoriously against this “Roman culture which fell so fruitfully upon Germany especially,” there annihilated the forces of the general of Augustus, Quintilius Varus.

My first thought to-day goes back in solemn gratitude to my father of everlasting memory, Emperor Frederick III. It is to his creative will and to his activity that Saalburg owes its restoration.

Just as in the far east of the monarchy at his bidding the powerful stronghold, which once had implanted German culture into the east, rearose and is now nearing completion, so, too, here in the beautiful Taunus Mountains the old Roman citadel has arisen again like a phœnix from its ashes. It is a testimony to the Roman power, a link in the great chain which the legions of Rome built about the powerful empire which, at the bidding of the Roman Emperor Cæsar Augustus alone, forced its way upon the world and opened[169] the whole world to that Roman culture which fell so fruitfully upon Germany especially.

With the first blow of my hammer I therefore dedicate this stone to the memory of Emperor Frederick III; with the second I dedicate it to German youth, to the generations now growing up who may learn here in this restored museum what a world-empire means; with the third I dedicate it to our German Fatherland, to which I hope it will be granted, through the harmonious co-operation of princes and peoples, of its armies and its citizens, to become in the future as closely united, as powerful, and as authoritative as once the Roman world-empire was, and that, just as in old times they said, “Civis romanus sum,” hereafter, at some time in the future, they will say: “I am a German citizen.”


January, 1901

The relationship of the army to the Prussian Kings here referred to is treated in chapter I.

To My Army:

To-day, at the celebration which commemorates the two-hundredth anniversary of our taking over of the royal power of Prussia, my thoughts are[170] directed first of all to my army. In Prussia the King and the army belong indissolubly together. This close personal relationship between me and every single one of my officers and soldiers rests upon a tradition that dates back 200 years. The spirit which from the time of Frederick the Great has been fostered in the army by all the Kings, the spirit of honor, of fidelity to duty, of obedience, of courage, of chivalry has made the army what it is and what it ought to be, the sharp, reliable weapon in the hand of her Kings for the protection and the blessing of the Fatherland’s greatness.

To serve the Fatherland at the head of the army, that is my will and that also was the foremost wish of all my predecessors. It is to their care that the army owes its power and the consideration which it enjoys. For 200 years she has proven true the sentence of the great King: “The world does not rest upon the shoulders of Atlas any more securely than the Prussian state upon the shoulders of the army!” It has sealed with its blood its love and gratitude for its Kings!

For all this I thank the army deeply. I thank it for the devotion which it has unselfishly shown me and my house year in and year out, in its unceasing service for the Fatherland. So long as this spirit binds the army to its Kings, so long we need fear no storms; and Prussia’s eagle will[171] proudly pursue its lofty and undeflected flight for the good of Prussia, for the good of Germany! May God grant us this!

William, I. R.

Berlin Royal Palace.


March 28, 1901

On the 6th of March the Emperor had been struck in the face by a piece of iron hurled at him by an irresponsible youth, Weiland, in the streets of Bremen. It was doubtless this incident coupled with the increasing strength of the Social Democrats that made him think of the possibility of an uprising and deliver the following address to the population of Berlin. The Social Democrats and many others resented his suggesting the possibility of turning the troops upon the citizens. We give first Penzler’s more or less official account of the speech as it appeared in the Kreuzzeitung. If the extract which we quote from Doctor Liman’s work “Der Kaiser” may be considered at all authentic, the speech seems to have been somewhat edited before publication.

Members of the Emperor Alexander Regiment:

To-day a new period in your history begins. May the spirit of the memories which you leave[172] behind you in the old barracks live on in your new home. They are memories of beautiful days of peace and of fierce days of conflict. Like a firm bulwark, your new barracks stand in the neighborhood of the palace, which it is primarily your duty to be ever ready to defend. The Emperor Alexander Regiment is called upon in a sense to stand ready as body-guard by night and by day and, if necessary, to risk its life and its blood for the King and his house; and if ever again (the Emperor here called to mind the faithful bearing of the Alexander Regiment at the time of the revolts against the King in 1848) a time like this should reappear in this city, a time of uprising against the King, then I am convinced the Alexander Regiment will be able energetically to force back into bounds any impertinence and rebelliousness against its royal master.[32]

[32] This last sentence reads as follows in Doctor Liman’s work: “But if the city should ever again presume to rise up against its master then will the regiment repress with the bayonet the impertinence of the people toward their King.” Doctor Liman states that it was currently reported that this sentiment had been expressed in phrases which were even more objectionable to the citizens who were standing outside the circle of soldiers.

I hope that a brilliant and beautiful existence may be in store for the regiment in its new home, and that such an existence will be reserved for it in the future. May it cherish above all things its memories of its earlier leaders and its enduring[173] relationships to them. These memories can only be fostered through courage, fidelity, and unconditional obedience. And if this old spirit lives on in the regiment then must its acts always win for it the satisfaction of its royal master.

(After the banquet in the officers’ mess the Emperor turned over to them a large painting of the Alexander Regiment on the evening of the battle of St. Privat. The official report gives the Emperor’s speech partly in his own words and partly in summary.)

He was convinced that the officers had brought the old spirit into their new quarters, and that they would continue to foster it. He, too, on his side, wished to contribute something to the decoration of their new home, and to this end had chosen an episode out of the victorious history of the regiment, and in doing so he wished to carry out a wish of the officers.

“In most of the pictures based upon the martial history of Prussia the Prussian troops are represented in victorious advance when, under their powerful shock, they are overthrowing the enemy. I thought it fitting for once to have the Prussian toughness and endurance on the defensive represented in the battle of a smaller body against an overwhelmingly superior force. The picture repre[174]sents how a small number from the Alexander Regiment defended themselves with heroic spirit against an entire brigade and finally victoriously repulsed it. My grandfather expressed to the body-guard as a whole his gratitude for its brave conduct in the face of the enemy and for all its heroic deeds. I am firmly convinced that the officers of the Alexander Regiment will always be mindful of its task, seeing that it educates soldiers for the one moment when it is a question of sealing with their life-blood their fidelity toward King and Fatherland. This consciousness gives me the certainty that we shall conquer everywhere, even though we be surrounded by enemies on all sides; for there lives a powerful ally, the old, good God[33] in heaven, who, ever since the time of the Great Elector and of the great King, has always been on our side.”

[33] Der alte, gute Gott.


April 24, 1901

Emperor William had himself been a student at Bonn. On this day the Crown Prince was matriculated at that university and in the evening the students held a Festkommers, a kind of banquet of the student societies, at which the Emperor appeared with the Crown Prince and his brother-[175]inlay, Prince Adolph von Schaumburg-Lippe. After singing two student songs, the student leader of the Kommers, “Studiosus” von Alvensleben, greeted the Emperor with a speech of welcome. In this friendly gathering the Emperor took occasion to discuss the history of the empire and especially the reasons for the failure of the older empire because of its cosmopolitan character. The new empire must be based upon a recognition of the characteristic German traits and will be possible only through the whole-hearted support of the constituent states of the realm.

I do not need to emphasize or even to mention to you, my dear young comrades, what emotions thrill my heart at finding myself again among students in beautiful Bonn. There unrolls before my mind’s eye the glimmering picture of sunshine and happy contentment with which the period of my own sojourn here was filled. It was the joy of living, joy in people old and young, and, above all things, joy in the development of the young German Empire!

It is therefore my wish at this moment, when I place my dear son among you, that he, too, may have as happy a time as a student as was once vouchsafed to me. And, indeed, how could it be otherwise? For Bonn, the lovely city, is so accustomed to the presence of young men full of life and seems by nature to have been designed[176] to no other end. Here the Crown Prince will find memories of his glorious grandfather who could not forget Bonn—his kindly eyes brightened whenever the name of the city which had become so dear to him was mentioned—memories of his great-grandfather, the noble prince consort, the companion of that now sanctified royal lady,[34] who always strove to maintain a peaceful and friendly relationship between her people and ours, which are both of German stock—memories of many another noble German prince who here prepared himself for his later career.

[34] Queen Victoria.

But even more than that—Bonn is situated on the Rhine; it is here that our grapes are gathered; our legends cluster about it, and every castle, every city, speaks to us of our past. The magic of Father Rhine will certainly exercise its power upon the Crown Prince likewise. And when you joyfully pass the cup and sing a new song, then I hope that your spirits may rise and enjoy the beautiful moments as becomes happy German youths! But may the source from which you draw your joys be as clear and pure as the golden juice of the grape, may it be deep and constant as Father Rhine! If we look about us in the joyous Rhineland, our history rises up before us in very palpable form. You may well rejoice that[177] you are young Germans, as you travel through the stretch from Aix to Mainz, that is, from Charlemagne to the time of Germany’s splendor under Barbarossa.

But why did all this glory come to naught? Why did the German Empire dwindle away? Because the old empire was not founded upon a strictly national basis. The universality idea of the old Roman Empire of the German Nation did not admit of any development in the spirit of German nationality. The life of a nation depends upon its frontiers, upon the personality of its people, and upon its racial traits. And so the glory of Barbarossa had to fail, and the old imperial structure had to fall, because through its idea of universality it hindered the process of crystallization which might have made it a rounded and completed nation; for the smaller units crystallized into the form of powerful principalities and laid the foundation for new states. But through this process their rulers unfortunately came into conflict with the empire and the Emperor, who dreamed of universal dominion, and internal peace was lost to the ever weakening empire. Unfortunately, at the head of this chapter in the development of our German people we must write the telling words of Tacitus, that great student of Germany: “Propter in[178]vidiam.” The princes were envious of the power of the Emperors, just as once they were envious of the power of Arminius in spite of his victory. The nobility was envious of the cities which had become wealthy, and the peasant was envious of the noble. What unhappy consequences and what grievous woes our dear and beautiful Germany had to suffer “propter invidiam”! The shores of Father Rhine can tell you long stories about this. But finally God allowed one to accomplish what before had been impossible. Aix and Mainz are for us historic memories; the longing to be brought together into a single nation remained in the German breast, and Emperor William the Great, in union with his faithful servants, achieved it. So cast your eyes from Coblentz to the German Eck and from Rüdesheim to the Niederwald! The pictures teach and prove to you that you are now Germans in a German land, citizens of a definitely bounded German nation. You are here to prepare yourselves to contribute to her future welfare and development. In its proud flower the empire stands before you. May you be filled with joy and grateful happiness, and may you be thrilled with the firm and manly resolve, as Germans, to give your service to Germany, to support, strengthen, and elevate her! The future waits for you and will need[179] your strength; it does not expect that you will waste it in idle cosmopolitan dreams or enlist it in the service of selfish party tendencies, but that you will devote it to strengthening the national idea and our own ideals. Powerful, indeed, are the intellectual heroes which the Germanic stock, through the grace of God, has produced, from the time of Boniface and Walter von der Vogelweide to Goethe and Schiller; and they have become a light and blessing to all humanity. Their influence was exerted universally, and yet they were strictly Germans, set apart by themselves; that is, personalities, men. We need them to-day more than ever. May you strive to become such as they were!

But how is this to be possible, and who is to help you? Only one, our Lord and Saviour, whose name we all bear and who has borne our sins and redeemed us, has provided us with an example, and labored as we are to labor. He has implanted moral earnestness in you so that the springs of your activity may remain pure and that your aims may be lofty! The love of father and mother, of the ancestral home and Fatherland, is rooted in the love for Him. Then will you be provided with a charm against temptations of every sort, above all against pride and envy, and you can sing and say: “We Germans fear God, nothing[180] else in this world.” Then will we stand firm and spread culture through the world, and I shall close my eyes in peace if I see such generations growing up and gathered about my son. Then “Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles!” With this prospect in mind I call out: Long live the University of Bonn!


Hamburg, June 18, 1901

From his childhood the Emperor has been fond of the sea. Most of his vacations have been taken aboard his famous yacht Hohenzollern, and almost every year he has been an enthusiastic spectator, and occasionally participant, in the regattas on the Elbe. On this occasion the steam-yacht Prinzessin Victoria Luise was placed at his disposition by the directors of the Hamburg-American Line. He is using his famous phrase, “a place in the sun” with reference to the happy outcome of events in China, for on May 27 of this year China had finally accepted the terms of the powers. Of the 90,000 men sent by the powers, Germany had furnished 22,000, and the general direction of the expedition had been intrusted to the German general Von Waldersee. Ballin, of the Hamburg-American Line, had acquired 3,000 feet of water-front and had leased for twenty-five years most of the landings of a Chinese navigation company. The Emperor’s[181] speech was delivered in reply to one by Burgomaster Mönckeberg of Hamburg.

I offer my heartiest thanks for the eloquent address of your Magnificence. I express to you and all comrades on the water the pleasure which I feel that I should once more be allowed to appear among you and take part in the races of the North German Regatta Association.

His Magnificence, in his short and pregnant speech, gave us as good and beautiful a picture as possible of the development of our Fatherland during recent years in the field of water sports and of our relations to foreign countries. It will be my sole task for the future to see to it that the seeds which have been sown may develop in peace and security.

In spite of the fact that we have no such fleet as we should have, we have conquered for ourselves a place in the sun. It will now be my task to see to it that this place in the sun shall remain our undisputed possession, in order that the sun’s rays may fall fruitfully upon our activity and trade in foreign parts, that our industry and agriculture may develop within the state and our sailing sports upon the water, for our future lies upon the water. The more Germans go out upon the waters, whether it be in the races[182] of regattas, whether it be in journeys across the ocean, or in the service of the battle-flag, so much the better will it be for us. For when the German has once learned to direct his glance upon what is distant and great, the pettiness which surrounds him in daily life on all sides will disappear. Whoever wishes to have this larger and freer outlook can find no better place than one of the Hanseatic cities. What we have learned out of the previous history of our development amounts really to what I already pointed out when I sent my brother to the East Asiatic station (Dec. 15, 1897). We have merely drawn the logical conclusions from the work which was left us by Emperor William the Great, my memorable grandfather, and the great man whose monument we have recently unveiled.[35] These consequences lie in the fact that we are now making our efforts to do what, in the old time, the Hanseatic cities could not accomplish, because they lacked the vivifying and protecting power of the empire. May it be the function of my Hansa during many years of peace to protect and advance commerce and trade!

[35] Bismarck.

In the events which have taken place in China I see the indication that European peace is assured for many years to come; for the achieve[183]ments of the particular contingents have brought about a mutual respect and feeling of comradeship that can only serve the furtherance of peace. But in this period of peace I hope that our Hanseatic cities will flourish. Our new Hansa will open new paths and create and conquer new markets for them.

As head of the empire I therefore rejoice over every citizen, whether from Hamburg, Bremen, or Lübeck, who goes forth with this large outlook and seeks new points where we can drive in the nail on which to hang our armor. Therefore, I believe that I express the feeling of all your hearts when I recognize gratefully that the director of this company who has placed at our disposal the wonderful ship which bears my daughter’s name has gone forth as a courageous servant of the Hansa, in order to make for us friendly conquests whose fruits will be gathered by our descendants.

In the joyful hope that this enterprising Hanseatic spirit may be spread even further, I raise my glass and ask all of those who are my comrades upon the water to join with me in a cheer for sailing and the Hanseatic spirit!



Kiel, June 20, 1901

Because of his activity in founding the Brandenburg fleet, a monument was erected to the Great Elector at Kiel. His history has been touched upon in chapter I. In connection with the services of the Dutch admirals it is interesting to note that one of the Emperor’s heroes was the God-fearing Dutch admiral De Ruyter, who always offered prayers before battle. The Emperor once laid a wreath upon his grave, and to-day on board the battle-ships the Dutch prayer before going into action is often read by the chaplains of the navy.

What extraordinary progress has been made in naval matters under the Emperor we may judge when we remember that before the Franco-Prussian War there were in Germany no construction bureaus and no wharves in which cruisers could be built. The first armored cruisers, König Wilhelm, Kronprinz, Friedrich Karl, were bought from England and France. In thirty years Germany has here achieved not only complete independence but something approaching very nearly to supremacy. His service in this field has been generally recognized. A German critic not usually favorable to the Emperor speaks thus: “Perhaps nowhere in the development of our political life does the personal activity of the Emperor stand out so strongly as in the building up of the German fleet. From the beginning he has[185] displayed so much energy and perseverance, in this respect, and has so emphatically carried his will into effect that history will certainly credit him with a great and unique service.”

At the unveiling of the monument to the Great Elector, the founder of the German navy, the Emperor spoke as follows:

Downtrodden fields, desolate plains, razed villages, disease, poverty, and misery; these were the conditions in the sandy mark when the young Elector in his earliest youth was called to the throne by the sudden death of his father. Truly, no enviable heritage; a task that called for a man who was mature, experienced, and conversant with all branches, and one which, even so, might have proved too difficult.

Undismayed, the young man entered upon his mission, and with wonderful ability he succeeded in discharging it. With an iron energy, keeping the goal which he had once set for himself ever before his eyes, allowing nothing to turn him aside, the Elector raised up and strengthened his country, put his people in a position to defend themselves, freed his borders of enemies, and soon acquired for himself such a position that the contemporary world, and even his enemies, gave him while still living that title, “The Great,” which in other cases a grateful people only bestows[186] after an arduous life of service upon a departed ruler.

And this youth who grew up to powerful manhood, who had directed his country in this work, was the first prince who called our attention to the sea; he was the founder of the Brandenburg fleet.

If the German fleet, then, sets up a monument to him, and if her officers and crews educate themselves and learn steadfastness of purpose by looking at his statue, they are merely discharging their honorable duty. God had so disposed that the Elector should pass his youth in the Netherlands and learn to foster and appreciate labor, industry, foreign relationships, and the advantages of trade. He carried over into his own country what he had acquired among that industrious and simple folk of seafarers who come from German stock. At that time it was, indeed, a most important decision, and one which at first his subjects and contemporaries could hardly understand.

Under his powerful will and protection, and in the hands of tried Netherlanders, the Admiral Raule and his brother, the Brandenburg fleet flourished. Only after the death of the Elector did his creation fall to decay. They were not destined to harvest the fruits of their labor. His[187] successors in power had first to establish through battles their rights, in order to have a voice in the world and to be allowed to rule, undisturbed and in peace, the people within their borders. As a result, our eyes were turned from the sea again in order that after centuries of fierce conflict the mark and Prussia might finally be welded together.

Thus, through the guidance of God and through the labors of the successors of the Great Elector, the power of his house was founded on that firm foundation and with the corner-stone which he had laid. It was this princely power that made it possible for the house of Hohenzollern to take up the German imperial dignity. They founded that dynastic power which the German Emperor must have in order to be in a position to care for and protect powerfully the welfare of the empire everywhere and to force its opponents to respect its flag.

His monument now stands before the academy. That younger generation to whom the future belongs, which is to cultivate the seeds that we have sown and to reap the harvest of our labors, may now direct its gaze toward this prince and be edified by his example.

He was God-fearing and stern, inflexibly stern toward himself and toward others; he trusted[188] firmly in God and allowed God to direct him, undismayed by any reverse or by any disappointment; as a Christian, he looked upon these merely as trials sent him from on high. In this way the Great Elector lived his life, and this is the example which we are to follow. The motto which made it possible for him never to lose his hope and courage, in spite of all vexations, in spite of all reverses and all grievous experiences and trials, was the red thread which ran through his life and which is expressed in his phrase: “Domine, fac me scire viam, quam ambulem.

May this be true also of the officers and crews of my navy! So long as we work on this basis we can overcome, undismayed, every grievous phase in the development of the navy and of our Fatherland which God’s providence may have in store for us. Let that be the way that you shall go! Let that be the foundation on which my navy is built up! This will enable you to conquer in battle and to endure all vexations until the sun again breaks forth from the clouds.

I therefore turn over this new monument to the navy. May she protect, cherish, and honor it, so that in the future she may develop characters which are like his who now stands before her! Let the monument be unveiled!



July 7, 1901

The second son of the Emperor took up his service in the 1st Infantry Regiment of the Guard on the completion of his eighteenth year. On this occasion, in the presence of many princes, officers of the army, and military attachés, the Emperor turned over his son to the regiment with the following words:

My second son, Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia, having applied himself eagerly to his studies, has now, according to the verdict of his superiors, passed his examination with a “good.” His childish years lie behind him, and to-day he takes up the tasks of life for which he has prepared himself—his foremost task the defense of the Fatherland—his noblest weapon the sword, his noblest uniform the Prussian soldier’s uniform, the uniform of my 1st Infantry Regiment of the Guard.

The qualities which the Prince has shown in the course of his youthful development, as well as his oath, are a pledge to me that he will be a thoroughgoing officer and a faithful servant of his Fatherland. Particularly gifted for the military life, with a quick eye for detail, the Prince, as soon as[190] he has passed his examination as an officer, will in the ranks of the regiment devote himself actively to the service for which he longs.

Although still very youthful, he should, nevertheless, be an example of earnestness, an example in observing all military rules, an example above all as an officer and man. I can think of nothing more beautiful than this, that he may be an earnest officer who turns an experienced eye upon life, unbending as iron in everything which constitutes the chivalry of the officer’s position, stern with himself and maintaining in strictest self-control the traditions of his house and of this great regiment. May he go his way untroubled by voices from without, with his eye firmly fixed upon his goal, and responsible only to his God and to his father!

But the regiment in which I have now enrolled my second son gives me the assurance that the young Prince will grow up in an environment, where from all sides the glorious traditions of Prussian history in good and evil days will be brought before him. The grenadiers of this regiment will be fully conscious of the honor which is bestowed upon them through the fact that once more a young Hohenzollern takes his place under her flag.

My son, I wish you happiness of this day. Up[191] to the present you have given me joy, and from this time forth I hope that you will experience joy in the life and the work which lies before you. Step into the ranks and draw your sword!


Berlin, December 18, 1901

The family of the Hohenzollerns has possessed undoubted genius in many lines. Frederick the Great and the Emperor’s great-uncle Frederick William IV were particularly gifted on the artistic side. The present Emperor, whose versatility is amazing, has taken a particular interest in things literary and artistic, and has himself occasionally assumed the rôle of creative artist. The symbolic picture, representing the coming of the “Yellow Peril,” which he is said to have painted for the Czar, caused much comment, mostly unfavorable.[36] He has, however, assumed a prominent if not a decisive rôle in direct[192]ing sculpture, painting, and drama in his capital. Just as he has directed modifications in battle-ships, so also he has directed modifications in public buildings. As he is in a position to distribute rewards, his advice is frequently accepted without question. The following anecdote, told by a prominent German architect and recounted by a recent writer, may serve as an illustration: Drawings for a new church in Berlin were submitted to the Emperor for assent or correction. His Majesty, intending to make a marginal remark, with regard to the cross on the top of the steeple, put a letter for reference above the cross and drew a straight line from the letter down to the cross. Having changed his mind, he drew an X vigorously through the letter. When the architect received his plans again he studied carefully all the Emperor’s corrections, but mistook the cancelled letter for a star. Knowing better than to ask questions, he built the church and put a big star on a huge iron pole above the top of the cross. This strange excrescence was in existence a few years ago and is probably still visible.

[36] “Emperor William, one of the most comical persons of our time, orator, poet, musician, dramatic writer, and artist, and, above all, patriot, has lately painted a picture representing all the nations of Europe with swords, standing at the seashore and, at the indication of Archangel Michael, looking at the sitting figures of Buddha and Confucius in the distance. According to William’s intention, this should mean that the nations of Europe ought to unite in order to defend themselves against the peril which is proceeding from there. He is quite right from his coarse, pagan, patriotic point of view, which is eighteen hundred years behind the times. The European nations, forgetting Christ, have in the name of their patriotism more and more irritated these peaceful nations and have taught them patriotism and war, and have now irritated them so much that, indeed, if Japan and China will as fully forget the teachings of Buddha and of Confucius as we have forgotten the teachings of Christ, they will soon learn the art of killing people (they learn these things quickly, as Japan has proved), and, being fearless, agile, strong, and populous, they will inevitably very soon make of the countries of Europe, if Europe does not invent something stronger than guns and Edison’s inventions, what the countries of Europe are making of Africa. ‘The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master’ (Luke 6:40).”—Tolstoi.[193]

It is a curious fact that for all the Emperor’s insistence upon what might be called nationalism, in artistic matters at least, in poetry, sculpture, and the drama, he has very little sympathy with the modern German tendencies. Klinger and Stuck, Ludwig von Hofmann and Thoma have found no favor, and no attention was paid to Böcklin. His literary preferences will become more evident after a reading of his talk with Ganghofer (November 12, 1906).

In the matter of sculpture, the achievement in which the Emperor takes most pride is undoubtedly the famous Siegesallee in Berlin. It consists of a number of monumental, heroic figures taken from the history of his house. The avenue, the general scheme, and the arrangement of many of the figures were planned by him, and the figures were chosen in consultation with his historiographer. The style is supposedly classic; there are many incidental animal figures, and a sphinx and the sibyl help to represent Bismarck. The attempt to make heroic and classic certain of the fairly mediocre representatives of his line, like Albrecht, Otto and John, Joachim, Frederick, and George William, seems to have been too difficult a task even for that Berlin school of sculpture, which the Emperor feels would bear comparison with that of the Renaissance. Notwithstanding his own efforts to awaken art “from the cold sleep of unculture,” it is perhaps significant that powerful, independent personalities, Michelangelos in sculpture and Bismarcks in politics, do not seem to thrive under the Emperor’s protection.


This eighteenth day of December has a certain significance in the history of our art here in Berlin, from the fact that that revered protector of the Muses, my late father, and my mother, who was so gifted in the arts, dedicated on that day, fifteen years ago, the Anthropological Museum. This was in a way the last great closing act which my father accomplished in this direction, and I look upon it as a special piece of good fortune that it is on precisely this day of the year that the works for the Siegesallee could be completed.

I seize with joy the opportunity to express to you all, first, my congratulations and, secondly, my thanks for the way and manner in which you have helped me to carry out my original plan. The accomplishment of the programme for the Siegesallee has required a number of years, and it was the able historiographer of my house, Professor Doctor Koser, who put me in a position to assign to the gentlemen the tasks which it was possible for them to carry out.

Once we had found the historical basis, it was possible to go ahead; and after the choice of the princes was decided upon, then the most competent men in the way of historical research were found to help the gentlemen in their work. In this way the groups were conceived, and, conditioned to a certain degree by history, they gradually took form.


After this part of the work was done, then, naturally, came the hardest question of all: Would it be possible, as I hoped, to find enough artists in Berlin who would be in a position to give themselves entirely to the execution of this programme?

I had in mind when I approached the solution of this problem, if I were successful, to show to the world what I considered to be the most advantageous method of solving an artistic question of this character. The best way to go about it, I believe, consists not in the appointment of commissions, not in the establishment of all possible kinds of prize contests and competitions, but in following the old established method which they used in classical times and also later in the Middle Ages. In this way, the direct intercourse between the employer and the artist offers a security for the favorable shaping of the work and for the successful accomplishment of the task.

I am especially indebted in this particular to Professor Rheinhold Begas in that, when I went to him with these thoughts, he made it clear to me without further ceremony that there was absolutely no doubt but that there were enough artists of all kinds in Berlin to carry out such an idea without difficulty. With his help and on the basis of friendships formed in the circle of sculptors here through visits to exhibitions and studios[196] I did, indeed, succeed in getting together a staff with which to proceed in carrying out this task—a staff the greater part of which I see gathered about me here to-day.

I believe that you will not deny that I have made the execution of the programme developed by me as easy as possible for you. I have placed the task before you and limited it in a general way, but for the rest I have given you absolute freedom, not only freedom in the combination and composition but precisely that freedom to put into it a certain amount of yourselves—a thing that every artist must do in order to put his own stamp upon his work; for every work of art contains within it a kernel of the artist’s own character. I believe that this experiment, if I may call it so, through which the Siegesallee was completed, dare be looked upon as a success.

Although interviews have been necessary between me and the artists who were carrying out the work in order to settle every doubt and to answer every question, no difficulties of a more serious nature have shown themselves. I believe, therefore, that from this point of view we can look back upon the Siegesallee with general satisfaction. You have individually solved your problems as you saw fit, and I, on my side, have the feeling that I have allowed you the fullest measure[197] of freedom and time—a thing I hold to be necessary for the artist. I have never gone into details and have contented myself with giving merely the direction, the impulse.

But it fills me with pride and joy to-day when I think that Berlin stands before the whole world with a body of artists who are capable of carrying out such a magnificent work. It proves that the Berlin school of sculpture stands at a height such as could hardly have been surpassed even in the time of the Renaissance. And I think every one of you will agree, without jealousy, that the effective example of Rheinhold Begas and his conception, based upon his knowledge of the antique, has been a guide to many of you in the working out of this great task.

Here, also, we could draw a parallel between the great achievements in the art of the Middle Ages and of the Italians; since in that time, also, the sovereign and art-loving prince who offered the commissions to the artists at the same time found the masters, about whom a crowd of young disciples gathered, so that a certain school was in this way developed which was able to accomplish remarkable things.

Now, gentlemen, the Pergamon Museum has also been opened on this same day, in Berlin. I regard that, too, as a very important portion of[198] our art history and as a good omen and a happy coincidence. A more magnificent collection cannot be imagined than the abundance of beauty which is displayed in these rooms before the eyes of the astonished observer.

But how does art stand in the world to-day? It takes its examples and creates out of the great sources of Mother Nature; and Nature, in spite of her great, apparently boundless, limitless freedom, acts according to everlasting laws which the Creator has set for Himself and which can never be infringed upon or overstepped without endangering the development of the world.

It is the same in art. And in looking upon the magnificent remains from the old classic period we experience the same feeling. Here, too, an eternal, unchanging law rules; the law of beauty and harmony—of æsthetics. This law was expressed by the ancients in so surprising and powerful a manner and in so complete a form that we, for all our modern perceptions and our power of accomplishment, are proud if it can be said of some very especially good piece of work: “That is almost as good as if it had been done 1900 years ago.”

“Almost!” Under this impression I shall ask you to take this injunction to heart. Sculpture has for the most part remained free from the so-called modern tendencies and influences; it still[199] stands high and sublime. Keep it so; do not let yourselves be led astray by the judgment of men and by all sorts of windy doctrines to give up these great principles upon which it is based.

An art which oversteps the laws and boundaries which I have indicated is no longer art; it is factory work, it is trade; and that no art dare become. Through the much-misused word “freedom” and under her flag one often falls into indefiniteness, boundlessness, conceit. However, he who cuts loose from the law of beauty and from the feeling for æsthetics and harmony which, whether he can express it or not, every man feels in his heart; he who thinks the chief thing is to turn his thoughts in a certain direction toward a definite solution of more technical problems, sins against the very sources of his art.

Furthermore, art must help to educate the people; it must also give the lower classes, after their cramping exertions, the opportunity to right themselves again through ideals. To us, the German people, great ideals are a lasting possession, while with other peoples they have been more or less lost. It is now the German people whose special province it is to protect these great ideas, to foster them, to set them forth; and to these ideas belongs the duty of giving to those classes who tire themselves out through labor the opportunity to raise themselves through beautiful[200] things and to work themselves out of and above their ordinary circles of thought.

If, however, art, as often happens nowadays, does nothing more than to make misery even more hideous than it already is, then it sins against the German people. The fostering of the ideal is the greatest work of culture; and if we wish to be and to remain a pattern in this for other peoples, then we must all work together; and if culture is to accomplish its full task, then it must penetrate through to the very lowest strata of the people. That it can only do if art lends a hand, if it raises up instead of drawing down into the gutter.

As ruler, I often feel very bitter that art, through her masters, should not be energetic enough to make a stand against such tendencies. I do not doubt for a moment but that many an earnest but misguided character, perhaps filled with the best intentions, is to be found among the devotees of this tendency. The real artist needs no advertising, no press, no connections. I do not believe that your great examples in the realm of science, either in ancient Greece or in Italy or in the time of the Renaissance, used any such methods as are now often practised through the press to bring their ideas especially into the foreground. They worked as God directed them; for the rest they allowed the world to criticise.

And that is the way an honorable, sincere[201] artist must act. Art which stoops to advertising is no longer art, were it praised to the skies. Every one, be he never so simple, has a feeling for that which is beautiful or ugly, and it is to foster this feeling further among the people that I have need of all of you; and that you should have accomplished such a piece of work in the Siegesallee, I, therefore, thank you particularly.

I may now confide something to you. The impression which the Siegesallee makes upon foreigners is quite overwhelming; everywhere an immense respect for German sculpture is noticeable. May you remain standing upon these heights; may also my children and my grandchildren, if they shall one day be granted to me, keep the same masters by their side! Then, I am convinced, our people will be in a position to love the beautiful and to hold high the ideal.

I raise my glass and drink to the health of all of you; and, once more, my heartiest thanks.


April 20, 1902

A monument was erected to the famous cavalry general Von Rosenberg, in Hanover. After the unveiling of the monument the Emperor responded to Count von Waldersee’s toast as follows:


To-day I greet all the cavalry of the German army. Even from his grave the general’s personality has issued so magic and so powerful an appeal that it has called the horsemen together from all quarters of the German Empire and from the contingents of my affiliated rulers, so that to-day for the first time our German cavalry is gathered together in a single great cohort.

We wish to draw a lesson from this day. As the general recognized only his service and the call of duty, may we do likewise! The highest reward that can come to an officer through his service in life is to fill his position to his own complete satisfaction. Looking back over the life of General von Rosenberg, we can compose a proverb which should apply to us also, now and for all time: “Know your aim, and then exert every effort.” Let that be the standard for our cavalry!

So may we also create for ourselves from this simple monument a symbol and an example. A block of granite from the mark bears the features of the general inlaid in bronze; so may we hedge and protect that piece of granite of our army which we call the cavalry and allow it to harden, so that he who bites upon it may lose his teeth![37]

[37] A phrase of Frederick the Great which Count Bülow had used in the Reichstag January 8, 1902, in speaking of the English Colonial Secretary Chamberlain’s attack on the German army.


With this wish I raise my glass and drink to the memory of the general, to the German cavalry, and to its most conspicuous representative, the General Field-Marshal, Count von Waldersee. Hurrah!


Aix, June 19, 1902

The Emperor, accepting an invitation from the city, came to Aix with the Empress and the Crown Prince. It was here that Charlemagne was probably born and here that he died. The present Rathaus was built upon the ruins of his palace, and it was in the so-called Coronation Room that the Emperor delivered his address.

In the name of her Majesty, the Empress, and in my name I thank you particularly for the indescribably patriotic and enthusiastic reception which has been prepared for us by all classes of the city of Aix. I earnestly desired to visit the city of Aix, and I thank you for the opportunity which you have given me through your invitation.

Who would not be deeply moved on such historic ground as that of Aix by the breath and murmur of the past and of the present? Who would not think of the providential guidance of Heaven as he looks back over the history of the[204] centuries which our Fatherland has lived through in its connection with Aix?

Aix is the cradle of German imperialism, for it was here that Charlemagne erected his throne, and the city of Aix shone in his reflected glory. So important, so imposing was the figure of this great German prince that from Rome the dignity of the Roman Cæsars was bestowed upon him, and he was chosen to enter into the inheritance of the Imperium Romanum—certainly a splendid recognition of the capability of our German stock as it appeared for the first time in history. For the Roman sceptre had fallen from the hands of the Cæsars and their successors. Crumbling and decayed, the Roman edifice was tottering to its fall, and only the appearance of the victorious Germans with their virtuous dispositions made it possible to point a new and as yet untrodden road for the history of the world. It goes without saying that the mighty Charles, the great King of the Franks, drew upon himself the gaze of Rome which looked to him as to its bulwark and protector.

But the task of combining the office of Roman Emperor with the dignity and burden of the German King was too severe. What he was able to accomplish through his powerful personality Fate denied to his followers; and through their desire[205] for a world-empire, the Emperors of the later generations lost sight of the German people and country. They turned toward the south in order to maintain the world-empire, and in so doing forgot the Germans. So gradually our German country and people perished.

Just as the blossoming aloe gathers up all the strength of the plant for this task and, striving upward, develops flower on flower and fascinates the eye of the astonished beholder, while the plant itself withers and its roots shrivel away, so it was with the Roman Empire of the German Nation.

Another empire has now arisen. The German people are now blessed with another Emperor, whom they had themselves gone out to seek. Sword in hand, on the field of battle, the crown was won, and the flag of the empire flutters high in the breeze once more. With the same enthusiasm and love with which the German people held to the imperial idea has the new empire entered into being; but the tasks are now different. Limited from without by the boundaries of our country, it became our duty to steel ourselves from within in preparation for the duties which were then laid upon our people and which could not be discharged in the Middle Ages.

And so we see the empire, although still young, growing strong within itself from year to year,[206] while confidence in it is becoming more and more secure on every side. The powerful German army, however, affords a support to the peace of Europe. In keeping with the character of the Germans, we limit ourselves from without in order to remain free within. Far away over the sea our speech is spreading, and far away flows the stream of our knowledge and research. There is no work in the realm of later research which is not written in our language, and no thought is born of science which is not first utilized by us in order later to be taken over by other nations. And this is that world-empire which the German spirit strives for. If we, then, wish to discharge adequately our further great responsibilities, we dare not forget that the foundation on which the empire was built is based upon simplicity and the fear of God as well as the lofty moral conceptions of our ancestors. Heavily, indeed, was the hand of our God laid upon us at the beginning of the previous century, and mighty was the arm of Providence which shaped the steel and welded it in the furnace of misery until the weapon was finished.

And so I expect of you all that, whether churchmen or laymen, you will help me to maintain religion among the people. We must work together in order to preserve the moral foundations and the healthy strength of the German stock. But that[207] can only be done if we preserve its religion, and this is true equally of Catholics and Protestants.

I am, therefore, the more pleased to-day, to bring to the leaders of the church who are here represented a bit of news of which I am proud to be the bearer. Beside me stands General von Loë, a faithful servant of his Kings. He was sent to Rome to the jubilee of the Holy Father, and when he delivered to him my gift and my congratulations and in private conversation had explained how things stood in our German country the Holy Father answered him that he was happy to be able to say that he had always thought highly of the piety of the Germans and of the German army; he said he could even go further and commissioned General von Loë to report the following to his Emperor: The German Empire is the only[38] country in Europe in which training, order, and discipline rule, in which respect for authority and reverence for the church exist, and in which every Catholic can live freely and undisturbed in his faith, and for this he thanked the German Emperor.

[38] The word “only” has not received official sanction, but is printed by Penzler.

This, gentlemen, justifies me in saying that both our churches, standing side by side, must forever have before their eyes the idea of strengthening[208] and preserving the fear of God and respect for religion. The fact that we are modern men and that we work in this or that field makes no difference. Whoever does not base his life upon religion is lost.

And as it is fitting on this day and in this place not merely to speak but also to make a pledge, I hereby express my vow that I set myself and my house, the entire empire, the entire people, and my army, symbolically represented by this baton, under the cross and under the protection of Him of whom the great apostle said, “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” and who has said of Himself: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”

I drink to the health of the city of Aix in the firm conviction that the words which I have spoken will here fall upon good ground, just as I am assured from what I have seen among both the older and younger citizens of this city that our house and our throne will in the future likewise find firm support within their walls. Long live the city of Aix!



November 26, 1902

The present speech and the one which follows it, to the working men in Breslau, may conveniently be taken together, as they both concern the Emperor’s attitude toward the Socialists. Of all his policies, his attempt to destroy this political party has been least successful. It had increased from 763,000 in 1887 to 4,250,000 in 1912, when it numbered more than twice as many voters as its nearest competitor, the Centre party, 1,996,000. The Emperor had tried to introduce repeatedly subversion acts which would have made for the persecution of this the largest political party in his empire. When, on October 13, 1895, a manufacturer was murdered in Mülhausen by a workman who had been repeatedly convicted of theft, William II telegraphed to his widow: “Another sacrifice to the revolutionary movement engendered by the Socialists.” This hostile attitude was unavailing and aroused the criticism of the greatest German historian, Mommsen:

“It is unfortunately true that at the present time the Social Democracy is the only great party which has any claim to political respect. It is not necessary to refer to talent. Everybody in Germany knows that with brains like those of Bebel it would be possible to furnish forth a dozen noblemen from east of the Elbe in a fashion that would make them shine among their peers.

“The devotion, the self-sacrificing spirit of the[210] Social Democratic masses, impresses even those who are far from sharing their aims. Our Liberals might well take a lesson from the discipline of the party.” And again, only about a week after this speech of the Emperor’s Mommsen wrote:

“There must be an end of the superstition, as false as it is perfidious, that the nation is divided into parties of law and order on the one hand and a party of revolution on the other, and that it is the prime political duty of citizens belonging to the former category to shun the labor party as if it were in quarantine for the plague and to combat it as the enemy of the state.”

The Emperor has had many friends among the leaders in the industrial world. Alfred Krupp had stood in close relation to his sovereign and had been one of the founders and prime movers in the German Navy League, which, more than anything else, had made possible the realization of the imperial naval policy. The Emperor is altogether mistaken in ascribing the stories circulated about Krupp to the malignity of Social Democratic editors. Very ugly rumors, whether true or false, had long before this time circulated about this industrial leader; they could have been heard in other countries of Europe, especially in Italy, and most particularly in Tiberius’s island of Capri, where he is said to have had a villa.

The address was delivered in the waiting-room of the station at Essen on the day of Krupp’s funeral.


I feel the need of expressing to you how deeply my heart is moved by the death of this man. Her Majesty, the Empress and Queen, wishes me to express to you her grief also, and she has already expressed it in writing to Frau Krupp. I have often, with my wife, been a guest in the Krupp house and have felt the charm of his lovable personality. Our relations have become so well established in the course of the years that I dare call myself a friend of the deceased and of his house. On this account I have not wished to deny myself the privilege of appearing here to-day at his funeral, and I hold it to be my duty to stand at the side of the widow and daughters of my friend.

The peculiar circumstances which accompanied the sad event also make it incumbent upon me to be here as the head of the German Empire, to hold the shield of the German Emperor over the house and the memory of this man. Whoever knew the deceased intimately knows with what a sensitive and delicate nature he was endowed and that this was the one vulnerable point through which to deal him a death-blow. He was the victim of his unimpeachable integrity.

An event has occurred within the German countries so degrading and low that it has aroused all hearts and must bring the blush of shame to the[212] cheeks of every German patriot, because of the disgrace brought upon our entire people. The honor of a man, German to the core, who lived only for others, who had in his mind only the welfare of the Fatherland, but above all that of his employees, has been assailed.

This deed, with its consequences, is nothing less than murder; for there is no difference between him who mixes a poisonous drink and offers it to another and him who from the safe ambush of his editor’s office destroys the honorable name of a fellow man with the poisoned arrows of his slanders and kills him through the torment of soul caused by them.

Who was it that began this shameful attack upon our friend? Men who up to the present have been counted as Germans, but who are now unworthy of this name, who sprang from the classes of the German working people, who have such a tremendous amount to thank Krupp for and of whom thousands in the streets with tearful faces waved a last farewell to the bier of their benefactor.

You, Krupp’s workmen, have ever held faithfully to your employer and have clung to him; gratitude is not wiped out of your hearts. With pride I have seen everywhere abroad the name of the Fatherland honored through the work of[213] your hands. Men who wish to be the leaders of the German workmen have robbed you of your dear master. It remains for you to shield and protect him and to preserve his memory from disgrace.

I trust, therefore, that you will find the proper means of making it clear to the body of German working men that it is important hereafter to make it impossible for good and honorable working men to have any community of interest or close relationship with the perpetrators of this shameful deed; for it is the honor of the working man that has been besmirched. Whoever will sit at the same table with these people deliberately lays himself open to a charge of moral participation in the crime.

I have sufficient confidence in the German laborers to believe that they are conscious of the extreme seriousness of the present moment and that, as German men, they will find a solution for this difficult question.


Breslau, December 5, 1902

That the working men of Breslau have decided to come to me, their King and father, fills me with the greatest satisfaction, for two reasons.[214] In the first place, you have not disappointed the expectations which I expressed in Essen; in the second, you have helped thereby to maintain free from reproach the memory of my late friend Krupp.

From my heart I thank the spokesman for his cordial, patriotic words. You show thereby that an honorable attitude and a dependence upon the King and the Fatherland are taking firm root among you. Your condition has indeed become the object of my deepest interest and consideration, for I observed with pride in foreign lands how the German working man was considered above all others, and with justice. Your hearts may exult and you may well rejoice in your work and your condition.

Led by the remarkable message[39] of the great Emperor William I, I have improved the social legislation so that a good and secure condition of existence has been created for the working men through old age, and this has been accomplished often at great sacrifice to the employer. And our Germany is the only country in which legislation relating to the welfare of the working classes has developed to any great degree.

[39] See footnote to “First Declaration of Polity,” June 25, 1888.

On the ground of the great concern which your King has for your condition I am justified in[215] giving you also a word of warning. For years you and your brothers have allowed yourselves to be deluded by the agitators of the Socialists into thinking that if you do not belong to this party and acknowledge it no one pays any attention to you and that you will not be in a position to obtain a hearing for your just interests in the amelioration of your condition.

This is a gross lie and a serious error. Instead of representing you directly, the agitators seek to stir you up against your employers, against the other classes, against the throne, and against the church, and have in this way taken advantage of you, terrorized you, and flattered you in order to strengthen their own power. And to what end is this power used? Not for furthering your welfare, but for sowing hatred between the classes and for disseminating cowardly slanders that respect nothing as sacred; and finally they have outraged the Almighty Himself.

As honor-loving men you cannot and dare not have anything more to do with such people, and you must no longer be led by them. No! Send us as representatives your friends and comrades from your own ranks, the simple, plain man from the shop who has your confidence. Such a man stands for your interests and your wishes, and we will gladly welcome him as the representative of[216] the German working classes, not as a Social Democrat. With such representatives of the working classes, no matter how many there may be, we will gladly work together for the good of the people and of the country.

In this way your future will be well cared for, especially since it naturally and closely depends upon loyalty to the King, upon respect for law and for the state, for the honor of one’s fellow men and brothers, true to the proverb: “Fear God, love your brothers, and honor the King.”


Berlin, February 15, 1903

As a result of a lecture before the Oriental Society of Berlin, a very serious controversy arose in religious circles in Germany. The Emperor gave his opinion in the following open letter, which was printed in the Grenzboten. It is said that this very significant letter shows the influence of the court chaplain, Doctor Dryander. Certain of the ideas are, however, thoroughly characteristic of the Emperor.

My Dear Hollmann:

My telegram to you must have removed the doubts which you still entertained regarding the conclusion of the lecture. It was perfectly clearly[217] understood by the audience and therefore had to stand as it does; but I am very pleased that through your inquiry the matter of this second lecture was again taken up, and I am glad to take this occasion, after reading through the section again, to present my position in a clear light.

During an evening meeting among ourselves Professor Delitzsch had the opportunity, with her Majesty, the Empress, and General Superintendent Dryander, to confer and discuss thoroughly for several hours, during which I remained a passive listener. He, unfortunately, departed from the standpoint of the thoroughgoing historian and Assyriologist and penetrated into the region of theological and religious conclusions and hypotheses, which were hazy and bold. When, however, he came to the New Testament it soon became evident that I could not agree with him in the ideas which he developed concerning the person of the Redeemer, and I was compelled to state my own standpoint, which was diametrically opposed to his. He does not recognize the divinity of Christ and therefore concludes in regard to the Old Testament that it does not refer to Him as the Messiah. Here the Assyriologist and investigating historian ceases and the theologian with all his lights and shades steps in. In this province I can only advise him to go very carefully, step by[218] step, and in any case to ventilate his theories only in theological publications and in the circles of his colleagues and to spare us laymen and especially the Oriental Society, before whose forum all this is out of place. We excavate and read whatever we find and publish it for the advancement of knowledge and history, but not in order to help justify or combat the religious hypotheses of any one of many learned men.

In Delitzsch’s case the theologian has run away with the historian, and the latter serves merely as a point of departure for the former. I think it unfortunate that Delitzsch should not have stuck to his original programme, which he developed in former years, namely, on the basis of the discoveries of our society, to ascertain through scientifically approved translations of the Scriptures how far these offer an illustration of the chronicle of the people of Israel; that is, enlightenment as to historical events, customs, and uses, traditions, politics, legislation, etc.; in other words, how far the undeniably highly developed Babylonian culture came into contact with the Israelites, could work upon them, yes, even impress its stamp upon them, and thereby accomplish, from a purely human point of view, a sort of rehabilitation for the Babylonians, who were, according to the Old Testament at least, a very crude, shameful,[219] and one-sided people. That was his original intention, at least as I understood it, and a province very fruitful and interesting to us all, the investigation, explanation, and exposition of which must have interested us laymen to the highest degree and would have demanded our deepest gratitude. But he should have stuck to this. Unfortunately, however, in his zeal he has overshot the mark. As was to be expected, the excavations brought to light communications which bear in a religious way upon the Old Testament. He should have collated this material and pointed out and explained coincidences, when such occurred, but he should have left it to the listener to draw for himself all purely religious conclusions. In this way his discourse would have commanded the interest and good-will of the lay public. That, unfortunately, he has not done. Pretending that he could explain it all on historical and purely human grounds, he has attacked the question of revelation in a very polemical manner and more or less denied it. That was a serious mistake, because he touched many of his hearers in what was deepest and most sacred to them. And whether he was right or wrong—that for the moment is all one, since we are concerned not with a purely scientific gathering of theologians but with laymen of all kinds and conditions—he has[220] overturned and rudely shaken many favorite conceptions and images with which these people connect sacred and cherished ideas and has ruthlessly shaken the foundation of their belief, if he has not swept it away altogether, a thing which only a mighty genius dare be bold enough to undertake and which the study of Assyriology alone does not justify. Goethe also once treated this subject and pointed out especially that one must be careful before a great, general public to break down only “Terminologiepagoden” [the pagodas of terminology]. The excellent professor, in his zeal, has overlooked the principle that it is very necessary to distinguish between what is and what is not fitting to the place, the public, etc. As a theological specialist he can, through the avenue of special publications, express for his circle of colleagues his theses, hypotheses, and theories as well as his convictions, which it would not do to express in a popular lecture or book.

I would like now to come back once more to my own personal standpoint in regard to the doctrine or view of revelation, as I have often explained it to you, my dear Hollmann, and to other gentlemen. I distinguish between two different kinds of revelation: one a continuous and in a manner historical revelation; the other a purely religious[221] one, preparing for the later appearance of the Messiah.

In the first place, let me say, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind but that God reveals Himself, always and permanently, through the human race which He created. He has “blown the breath of His nostrils” into man; that is, He has given him a piece of Himself—a soul. With fatherly love and interest He follows the development of mankind; in order to lead and advance it further, He “reveals” Himself in this or that great sage or priest or king, be he heathen, Jew, or Christian. Hammurabi was one, so were Moses, Abraham, Homer, Charlemagne, Luther, Shakespeare, Goethe, Kant, Emperor William the Great. These He has sought out and made worthy, through His grace, to accomplish according to His will splendid and imperishable deeds for their people in the spiritual as well as in the physical world. How often has my grandfather expressly said that he was only an instrument in the hand of the Lord. The works of great spirits are given to the people by God in order that they may imitate them and feel their way further through the intricacies of the unexplored regions of this life. Certainly God has “revealed” Himself in different ways at different times, according to the condition and culture of the people, and still does[222] so to-day. For, as we are overcome by the greatness and power of the magnificent nature of creation and are astounded to see in it the revealed greatness of God, so, just as surely, do we thankfully recognize in every really great and splendid thing which a man or a god does the splendor of the revelation of God. He works directly upon and among us!

The second kind of revelation, the more religious, is that which relates to the coming of our Lord. From the time of Abraham on it is introduced slowly but prophetically—the coming of the All-wise, the All-knowing; for mankind would otherwise have been lost. And now begins the most wonderful phenomenon of all, the revelation of God. The seed of Abraham and the people who developed from it regard as the most sacred thing in the world a rigorous belief in a single God. They must cherish it—. Separated during the Egyptian exile, the scattered portions, welded together a second time by Moses, strove ever to hold fast to their belief in a single God. It was the direct working of God upon these people which allowed them to rise again. And so it continues further down the centuries until the Messiah, who was announced and foretold by the prophets and psalmists, finally appears. The greatest revelation of God in the world! For He[223] appeared in the person of His Son; Christ is God; God in human form. He redeemed us, He inspires us, He draws us on to follow Him, we feel His fire burning within us, His pity strengthens us, His dissatisfaction destroys us, but His intercession saves us. Sure of victory, building only upon His Word, we go through work, scorn, sorrow, misery, and death, for we have in Him the revealed Word of God and He never deceives.

That is the way I look at these questions. The Word of God has, through Luther, become everything, especially for us Evangelicals; and as a good theologian Delitzsch should not have forgotten that our great Luther taught us to sing and to believe: “Ye shall let the Word stand!” For me it goes without saying that the Old Testament contains a great number of extracts which are of purely human origin and not “the revealed Word of God.” There are purely historical descriptions of events of all kinds which took place in the life of the people of Israel in the realm of political, religious, moral, and spiritual matters. So, for instance, the giving of the law on Mount Sinai may be looked upon as inspired by God in only a symbolical sense; for Moses was compelled to have recourse to some means of giving new force to old and well-known portions of the law (which were probably derived from the Codex of Ham[224]murabi). Otherwise he might not have been able to unite and weld together a people whose organization had become lax and incapable of resistance. Here the historian can perhaps construe from the sense and the run of the words some relation to the laws of Hammurabi, the friend of Abraham, which would perhaps be perfectly logical; that would, however, in no way detract from the fact that God inspired Moses to do it and in so far revealed Himself to the people of Israel.

As I see it, therefore, our good professor ought hereafter to avoid handling and bringing forward religion, as such, in his addresses to our society. On the other hand, he may continue unmolested to bring forward whatever connections there may be between the religion, customs, etc., of the Babylonians, etc., and the Old Testament. From which I derive the following conclusions:

(a) I believe in one God, and one only.

(b) In order to teach this we need a form, especially for our children.

(c) This form has been up to the present time the Old Testament in its present state. Through investigation, inscriptions, and excavations, this form will certainly change materially; that does not matter, and even the fact that much will be lost from the nimbus of the chosen people does not[225] matter. The kernel and the content remain ever the same: God and His work!

Religion was never the result of science but the outpouring of the heart and being of man in his intercourse with God.

With heartiest thanks and many greetings,

Your true friend,

(Signed) William, I. R.

P. S. You may make the fullest use of these lines; whoever wants to may read them.


Döberitz, May 29, 1903

After conducting the manœuvres of the guard the Emperor dedicated the obelisk to Frederick the Great. The character and achievements of Frederick have been summarized in chapter I.

One hundred and fifty years ago, on these same fields, his Majesty, Frederick II, who even in his lifetime was called “the Great,” gathered together a considerable part of his army in order to train and steel it for the mighty struggles which he foresaw in spirit through his prophetic vision. So important was this preparation for him that he did not hesitate to trust his columns to the direction of his experienced field-marshals. Here the great soldier King, working restlessly, not[226] overlooking details in his interest for the greater concerns of history, trained his regiments for the difficult tasks of the Seven Years’ War, which was soon to set in, and created that inner bond between himself and his soldiers which inspired them to the greatest deeds of daring, while he infused his spirit into his generals and so laid the foundation for the unmatched results which found their crowning achievement in the victorious overthrow of a world in arms united against him. Let these achievements be unforgotten; unforgotten the names of the heroes of that great time.

Frederick’s enemies derisively called his little army the “Potsdamer Wachtparade” [the “Potsdam Guard’s Parade”]! Well, he showed them what he could do at the head of it! And in later times likewise the “Potsdam Guard’s Parade” fittingly showed the way to every one who tried to cultivate too close an acquaintance with it. This obelisk of northern granite is erected in memory of that time. A memorial to “Fredericus Rex, the King and Hero,” to be emulated by us all in working with unabated strength to the end that we may be ready to strike in any emergency. When in a moment the curtain shall fall, when the flags and standards dip in greeting, swords are lowered, and presented bayonets glisten—all this is done in honor not only of this block of stone but of him,[227] the great King, his generals and field-marshals; of his great successor, William the Great, and his paladins, who now, assembled around the Great Ally above, look down upon us; and in honor of Prussia’s glorious martial history and tradition. Attention, present arms!


Hamburg, June 20, 1903

The equestrian statue of Emperor William I was dedicated in Hamburg, June 20, 1903. The Emperor’s interest in glorifying and occasionally even in sanctifying his ancestors is frequently noticeable. He has tried to assure to his grandfather the title of William the Great, and the Emperor’s friend Ballin, of the Hamburg-American Line, has given this title as well as that of Imperator to the well-known transatlantic steamers. It is perhaps significant that Bismarck is not mentioned. The pedestal of this monument was left blank. As has been noted, rumor has it that the citizens of Hamburg were unwilling to bestow this title and feared to offend with the simpler “William I.”

It has often been my task to express my thanks to great cities and their enthusiastic citizens; never have I found it so difficult to find the correct, pertinent, and adequate expression for what I feel and what I have seen and experienced.


If, first of all, I may speak as grandson of the great Emperor, whose bronze likeness the city of Hamburg has just unveiled, I would like to give utterance to the gratitude which so stirs my heart, that the citizens of Hamburg have been able in such a brilliant, handsome, and noble manner to show their feeling for Germany and their gratitude to the old hero. As his grandson, this has pleased me greatly and has stirred me deeply.

For the rest, I cannot forbear to emphasize the truly overwhelming reception which was accorded me here by great and small, young and old, high and low. The many thousand faces which lighted toward me to-day gave evidence that the greeting came from the heart and from feelings which were deeply moved, and I beg the senate and the citizens to accept my heartiest, sincerest, and warmest thanks and to communicate them to the city.

Indeed, for the younger generation which stood with us about the bronze portrait to-day the great Emperor is already a historical personage, and the events which weave themselves about his person and the time in which he worked are already described in history.

I believe that I am not presuming if I prophesy that some time in future centuries the awe-inspiring figure of my grandfather will stand forth[229] before the German people, surrounded by at least as many legends and as powerful and as conspicuous for all time as once the figure of the Emperor Barbarossa was. Truly, the younger generation is accustomed to look upon what we call the empire, together with what it has brought us, without thinking what it has cost to arrive at this point.

And I believe we recognize the hand of Providence when we look upon that awe-inspiring figure which stands yonder in its peaceful attitude before the Rathaus, with its earnestness and its silent tranquillity of old age. It was precisely, this man whom Providence sought out to accomplish this hardest of all tasks—the uniting of the German races. For no one could resist the charm of the personality, the simple modesty, the winning lovableness of the lofty ruler; and so it was permitted to him, surrounded by his powerful paladins who were devoted to him and who worked with him, to smooth the way and reconcile the differences; while he kept ever before his eyes the goal, the union of the Fatherland. During a long time of peace, in quiet work his thoughts ripened and the plans of the already gray-haired man were ready when the mighty task came to him of once more reviving the empire. I hope that the youth of Hamburg, when they pass this monument, will never forget the[230] time of preparation through which this noble ruler lived.

With justice you speak of the time of Emperor William as great and powerful—powerful in its impulses, mighty in its flaming enthusiasm. Gentlemen, I think that our time is also great. The tasks which were assigned to the great Emperor have been accomplished; yet when things for a while seem dark and the tasks which are assigned us seem too hard we must not forget what that noble ruler endured. Let us not forget that he lived through and remembered Jena and Tilsit, and that, nevertheless, he never despaired of the future of the Fatherland. From Tilsit we travelled to Versailles!

And even so is it destined to be in the future; there remain tasks for our time also. The great Emperor with his great aides has laid the basis, the corner-stone of the building; it is for us to build upon it! Therefore it is my opinion and firm conviction that a great future awaits us also, if we are but determined to make it so. Tasks are assigned to us, and, whether they are light or heavy, we must face them as well as we are able and enlist all our strength. Then we shall be able to accomplish them and I am convinced that now as then the German Empire and the German people will never lack the right sort of men.


For this reason I turn to-day to that place where formerly from the depths of my heart I issued an earnest appeal to the German people; and I repeat again to-day: “May it remain true to its ideals and to itself!” Then, as the block of granite yonder bears the great Emperor, so will the German people, true to their traditions, bear upon their hearts and discharge with their strength the new tasks and undertakings which come to them. May they enter with decision upon the work which Heaven assigns them without asking whether it be easy or difficult, without worrying as to how they shall accomplish it, provided only they are going forward!

Raise your eyes! Lift up your heads! Look to the heights, bend your knee before the Great Ally, who has never forsaken the Germans, and who, if he has at times allowed them to be sorely tried and discouraged, has again raised them from the dust. Put your hand on your heart, direct your gaze into the distance, and from time to time give a backward glance for memory to the old Emperor and his time, and I am convinced that, as Hamburg is progressing in the world, so will our Fatherland progress along the road of enlightenment, the road of improvement, the road of practical Christianity: a blessing for mankind, a bulwark of peace, the wonder of all countries!


I give this as my firm hope and conviction, and to this wish I empty my glass: Long life to the city of Hamburg!—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!


March 9, 1905

It will have been noted that the Emperor usually addresses his recruits in very simple language. On the occasion of administering the oath to the naval recruits at Wilhelmshaven, he was concerned about explaining to them the reasons for the Japanese victory, for he had repeatedly told them that only a good Christian can be a good soldier.

The speech was reported through a letter of one of the recruits.

The Emperor spoke, among other things, of the heroic deeds of the Japanese and explained that they had sprung from the Japanese love of country and children, which had begotten a splendid manliness in the army and navy. He said that we must not conclude, however, from the Japanese victories—the victories of a heathen over a Christian people—that Buddha was superior to our Lord Christ. If Russia was beaten, it was due for the most part, according to his opinion, to the fact that Christianity in Russia was in a pretty bad way; and then, too, there were many[233] Christian virtues among the Japanese. A good Christian is synonymous with a good soldier!

But Christianity is poorly off among the Germans also, and he—the Emperor—doubted whether we Germans in case of a war would have any special right to pray God for victory, to wrest it from Him in prayer as Jacob did in his struggle with the angel. The Japanese were the scourge of God just as once Attila and Napoleon were.

And so we must take care lest God should have to chastise us with such a scourge, etc. The Emperor spoke very earnestly but very impressively and simply, so that he could be understood by every one.


Bremen, March 22, 1905

The following address was delivered at the Rathaus in Bremen on the occasion of the dedication of the monument to Emperor Frederick III. The Emperor here presents his views on the mission of Germany in much the same spirit in which it is expounded in a number of his addresses of this time. He has become increasingly conscious of her “manifest destiny” in the decade which had passed after the celebrations of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Franco-Prussian War. Germany had entered upon a period of great prosperity and had begun to possess the sense of latent[234] power. The Emperor gives us here the purely historical reasons which have led him to refrain from pretensions to world-dominion. It is significant that his next address will be delivered at Morocco. The question naturally arises, what hopes or aspirations were in the minds of the audience before whom the Emperor made this gran rifiuto. It was in a time of insistent agitation by the Navy League and the Colonial party.

My Honored Burgomaster:

Will you allow me first, with a heart deeply moved, to perform the duty of a son and thank you sincerely for having transmitted to me the wish of your countrymen that I should participate in this festive day and be present at the unveiling of the unique and splendid statue which the free Hanseatic city of Bremen has erected to my father?

I can assure you that it stirred me deeply to-day as my eye wandered over the masses of people to think that the former Prussian Crown Prince, subsequently the first Crown Prince of the German Empire, and, finally, second Hohenzollern Emperor, should be fêted in a free German city just as though this were his home. It is a proof that his figure, as well as that of his great and illustrious father, has become a common possession of the entire German people.


I sincerely thank the city of Bremen that it has honored my father and his memory in such a magnificent manner. You have created a work of art, the like of which is not often seen in German lands. And I am convinced that in later generations his powerful personality, which will have become surrounded by the glamour of legend, will through this statue be brought nearer to the hearts of the people. And I am sure that the generations of Bremen which are to follow, from father to son, will never forget the second Emperor, whose noble Siegfried figure led the German army to victory and whom we have to thank for our unity.

And so, now, beautiful statues of both my father and my grandfather stand in this loyal German city and furnish mile-stones for the history of our Fatherland as well as for the city of Bremen.

Truly, the historical retrospect which you have been good enough to present us shows magnificently the leadership of God and the grace which Providence has bestowed upon our people and our country. The portion of time which is represented by both of these two noble leaders who stand here in bronze has, like a foundation-stone, been firmly laid in history. It remains for later times and their generations to build upon[236] the foundation which these great rulers have set down.

You have had the goodness to express the thoughts which stirred you upon a former occasion in this same place. They correspond entirely to what I myself thought at that time. When, as a lad, I stood before the model of the Brommy[40] ship, I bitterly felt the disgrace which our fleet and our flag had been forced to suffer. And perhaps, since on my mother’s side a bit of sea blood flowed into my veins, this was the thing which was to give me my cue for the manner in which I would envisage the tasks which henceforth were to confront the empire.

[40] Bromme (called also Brommy) was a German seaman who served in the Greek navy and who was later placed in charge of the Naval Commission by the German National Assembly in 1848. He organized the first modern German fleet and as admiral drove off the three Danish ships blockading the Weser. This navy was considered merely a passing necessity, and in 1853 Bromme was retired, after the little fleet had been sold at auction.

I swore to the colors when I came to the throne, after the mighty time of my grandfather, that, so far as in me lay, the bayonet and cannon would have to rest, but that bayonet and cannon, however, would have to be kept sharp and effective in order that jealousy and envy from without should not disturb us in the development of our garden and our beautiful house. I have made a vow, as a result of what I have learned from[237] history, never to strive for an empty world-dominion. For what has become of the so-called world-empires? Alexander the Great, Napoleon I—all the great warriors—have swum in blood and have left subjugated peoples behind them who at the first opportunity have risen up again and brought the empire to ruin.

The world-empire of which I have dreamed shall consist in this, that the newly created German Empire shall first of all enjoy on all sides the most absolute confidence as a quiet, honorable, and peaceful neighbor; and that, if in the future they shall read in history of a German world-empire or of a Hohenzollern world-ruler, it shall not be founded upon acquisitions won with the sword but upon the mutual trust of the nations who are striving for the same goals. To express it briefly, as a great poet has said: “Limited outwardly, but with no limits upon inward development.”

You have mentioned the ships which here hang memorially from the ceiling of this beautiful old hall. The time in which I grew up was, in spite of the great war, not a great and glorious one for the seafaring part of our nation. I, too, have here drawn the logical conclusions from what my ancestors have done. In a military way much had been done within, as was necessary; now the[238] equipment of the navy had to be brought forward.

I thank God that I do not have to make a desperate appeal here in this town hall as I once did in Hamburg.[41] The fleet is built and is on the seas; we have material for crews. The eagerness and the spirit are the same as those which filled the officers of the Prussian army at Hohenfriedberg, at Königgrätz, and at Sedan; and every German war-ship which leaves the slips is one more guarantee for peace on land. We are correspondingly more powerful as allies, and our opponents will be correspondingly less willing to offer us any aggression.

[41] The appeal referred to is the speech delivered at Hamburg on October 18, 1899, with its famous “Bitterly do we need a powerful fleet.”

To-day, as I scanned the citizens of Bremen, I saw the old and the young standing next each other—the old with their medals and their crosses, comrades in battle and in deeds under both the great leaders whose statues stand in this city, and before them stand the youth who shall grow up to the new empire and its tasks.

What will these tasks be? To develop steadily; to shun strife, hate, division, and jealousy; to rejoice in the German Fatherland as it is and not to strive after the impossible; to hold fast to the[239] conviction that our God would never have taken such great pains with our German Fatherland and its people if he had not been preparing us for something still greater.

We are the salt of the earth, but we must also be worthy to be so. Therefore must our youth learn to give up and deny themselves what is not good for them, to put far from them the things which have slipped in from foreign peoples, and to preserve their morals, good conduct, reverence, and religion. Then some day may we write over the German people the motto on the helmet of the 1st Regiment of my guard: “Semper talis”—“Ever the Same.” Then we shall be looked upon from all sides with respect and in a measure with love as a safe and trustworthy people and can stand with our hand on our sword-hilt and with our shield grounded before us and say: “Tamen, come what will.”

I am sure that my words will fall upon good ground here in Bremen. Earnestly I hope that the golden peace which up to the present with God’s help we have maintained we may preserve still further and that under this peace Bremen may grow green, may bloom, and prosper. That is my innermost wish. Long life to Bremen—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!



March 31, 1905—November 17, 1906


Tangier, March 31, 1905

On the 8th of April, 1904, an entente which had settled all outstanding questions between France and Great Britain and gave to Great Britain a free hand in Egypt and to France a free hand in Morocco was formally signed in London. The German Government officially declared that the settlement between France and Great Britain concerned only these two countries; but the Pan-German Society, the Colonial Society, and the Navy League began so insistent an agitation that the government changed its attitude and the Emperor here declares in no uncertain terms that what Germany undertakes in Morocco will be done exclusively with the “sovereign Sultan.” Germany was evidently picking a quarrel with France over Morocco, with or without warrant, as the case may be, and was trying to ascertain, it is generally believed, the closeness of the relationship between France and Great Britain. The large commercial interests of which the Emperor[241] speaks were fairly negligible; though he doubtless had the right to protect it, Germany’s yearly trade there did not amount to as much as that of an ordinary department store or of a fairly successful merchant. For the previous eight years it averaged less than half a million dollars annually. Her course here has usually been regarded as unnecessarily belligerent.

True to his policy of personal diplomacy, the Emperor suddenly appeared at Tangier and while there made his speech to the German colony.

The whole question was taken up at the conference of Algeciras in 1906. Although the policy of “the open door,” which protected Germany’s commercial interests was guaranteed, the very general storm of protest in Germany, especially on the part of the war party and Navy League, showed that she had entered the contest with more serious intentions. World policy by aggressive interference had already been initiated when, in the Spanish-American War, the German Admiral Diedrichs started to hamper the operations of the American fleet at Manila. Morocco was looked upon by some, Doctor Liman, for instance, as a second defeat. In the Algeciras conference Italy sided with France and England. Italy had been continuing as a member of the Triple Alliance partly through fear that the French would annex Tripoli, which Italy desired. England and France had now privately agreed to give Italy a free hand. She sided with them and it was evident that her vital interests in the Triple Alliance had been considerably lessened. As[242] England and Russia were also settling all their Eastern points of difference, Germany began to be conscious of her isolation, which had been largely a result of her attitude and unfortunate diplomacy.

I am pleased to make the acquaintance of the pioneers of Germany in Morocco and to be able to tell them that they have done their duty.

Germany has great commercial interests here. I shall advance and protect our commerce, which shows a satisfying increase, and for that reason shall insist upon equal rights with all powers, which is only possible through the sovereignty of the Sultan and the independence of the country. For Germany both of these must be unquestioned, and I am, therefore, ready to intervene for them at all times.

I hope that my visit in Tangier declares this plainly and emphatically and that it will call forth the conviction that what Germany undertakes in Morocco will be negotiated exclusively with the sovereign Sultan.


September 8, 1906

On this date the Emperor and his four sons dedicated a monument to Frederick the Great on the site of his famous bivouac at Bunzelwitz.[243] In the evening he addressed a banquet in Breslau, in which he took up especially the services of the Silesians to the crown. He particularly recalls the support they gave Frederick William III in 1813, at the lowest ebb of that King’s fortunes. Divisions of patriotic volunteers, “free corps,” were organized in the province, who, not being Prussians, could not serve in the Prussian line. The best known of these was that of Lützow, to which the poet Theodor Körner belonged. It is from one of his most famous war-songs that the quotation in the Emperor’s speech is taken. The manner in which he speaks of the coronation of his grandfather “by the will of Heaven” and with no mention of the Constitution, is to be found in several of his speeches, notably the address at Königsberg (August 25, 1910). Most of these speeches were made in his hereditary provinces, Prussia, Silesia, and Brandenburg, and aroused considerable protest in other parts of Germany.

My Dear President:

With a heart deeply moved, I take the opportunity to-day to speak as sovereign Duke of Silesia to my Silesians, for the impressions which have been showered upon me during the short time that I have been among you are of so powerful and compelling a nature that words fail me to express them or to find the proper form for the thanks which I would like to communicate to my people of Silesia. I do not refer only to yesterday’s[244] demonstrations, which surpassed, if that were possible, the jubilations on the day of my entrance. And I do not mean only those on the part of the old soldiers in black uniforms with their military decorations on their breasts, who can say, “We have been present at the time when history was made,” and who dare pride themselves on having been fellows in arms of the great Emperor and his noble son, my father, whose heart, as is known to all of you, beat high for Silesia, but I mean to-day, on my journey through the green Silesian country to Bunzelwitz, Schweidnitz, and Rogau and back—everywhere I have found the same warmth, the same glowing, burning enthusiasm. It is the old Silesian loyalty which breaks forth and which proves the appreciation on the part of the people for what the house of Hohenzollern has done for them. This loyalty is rooted in ground specially consecrated by history. For who will deny that the province of Silesia, almost more than any other, stands in closest union with the history of our Fatherland and of our house? And, especially, how could any one speak of the development of Silesia without first thinking of the one powerful figure of whom the grenadiers sang from the Rhine to the Oder: “Fredericus Rex, our King and leader”? Wherever we look over the plains of Silesia rise the memories of him, of the in[245]comparable battles through which he made Prussia a world-power, and also of the splendid work of peace in which he sought to raise and strengthen the sorely oppressed country. And again in later times it was precisely to Silesia that it was reserved to send a new ray of hope to that sorely tried Hohenzollern King, Frederick William III, when he encountered the ardent enthusiasm of the first volunteers in Breslau, when the first raising of troops took place here, and when the “wild, dashing Lützow hunters” started in their career against the enemy at the Zobten. And so it has been ever since. The sons of Silesia have fought whenever it was a question of coming forward and sacrificing their blood for the Fatherland. And so it may be very well said that the history of our house is indissolubly bound up with that of Silesia, one of her most beautiful provinces. And when we glance back over this great history we can characterize it with the phrase which my great departed grandfather used when, after fierce conflicts, through the will of Heaven the imperial crown was set upon his brow: “God was with us, and His be the honor!” And when I stop to think how the flags of the veterans passed me with proud bearing I believe that we can apply this to the present and thank God that He has disposed everything for the good and profit of this province and of our[246] house; above all, for the fact that it has been granted us to carry out our work in peace. But if God was with us we ought earnestly to ask the question whether we were worthy of His help. Has every one among us also done his part by offering up his thought, his health, and strength to carry on and develop the legacy which was bequeathed to us by the past? If every one with his hand upon his heart asks himself this question sincerely, many a man will find it difficult to answer. And then, gentlemen, let us draw a lesson from the personality of the great King and decide where it was that we have failed in the work, where we have allowed our spirits to flag, and where dark thoughts and fears have bewildered our minds. Away with them! And just as the great King was never left in the lurch by the old Ally, so our Fatherland and this beautiful province will always be near His heart. And so out of the beautiful circle of memories and of golden loyalty which I have here encountered, let us coin a new vow: from this time on, through offering up our strength of soul and body, we will devote ourselves to the task of urging our country forward, of working for our people; and every one, according to his position, whether high or low, will do this; and the various creeds will unite to check unbelief; and above all things, for the future, we shall keep our[247] vision clear and never despair of ourselves or of our people. The world belongs to the living, and the living are right. I cannot endure pessimists, and whoever does not take part in the work let him depart and, if he likes, seek out a better country. But I expect from my Silesians that they to-day will unite in the decision to be ever mindful of their great aims and examples, that they will follow their Duke, especially in his work of peace for his people. In this hope, I empty my glass to the health of the province of Silesia and of all faithful Silesians.


Münich, November 12, 1906

One of the men of letters whom the Emperor has been particularly delighted to honor and in whom he sees one of the glories of German literature is Doctor Ludwig Ganghofer, who is certainly not more than an able writer of the second rank. After a performance in the Hoftheater in Münich the Emperor expressed the desire to see him, and the following conversation took place which was reported in a confusing combination of direct and indirect quotation.

The Emperor said that he had recently read the “Hohen Schein” and spoke at some length about[248] it, going over the content and thought of the book. From the way in which he spoke about it one could see how intensely he was occupied with one thing in particular.

What pleased him especially in the book was the optimistic tone which pervaded it, the preaching which stimulated belief in life, and the manner of accepting the misfortunes of existence, as well as the trust in the future and trust in humanity. “This,” said the Emperor, “makes such an impression upon me because I am an optimist through and through and will allow nothing to prevent me from remaining one to the end of my days.” He spoke of himself as a man full of his work and one who believed in his tasks. He said further: “I will go forward. I would greatly rejoice if men would understand me and would support me in my desires.” In this connection he spoke of the difficulty every one encountered in his work on account of distrust. He again recalled a passage from Ganghofer’s “Schweigen im Walde” which had also especially appealed to him because it had expressed his own point of view concerning life. The passage runs: “He who distrusts, commits a wrong against another and harms himself. It is our duty to believe that every man is good so long as he does not give proof to the contrary.” “On this basis,” said the Emperor, “I have always[249] accepted every man with whom I had anything to do. One may sometimes meet with unpleasant experiences, but on that account he dare not give up. One must always go on again with new trust in humanity and in life.”

The Emperor then directed the conversation to a tablet which he had had made and which contained, besides the above-mentioned quotation, certain aphorisms of a like tenor from Ganghofer’s novels.

These quotations appealed to him so strongly because they expressed entirely his attitude toward life. With a good bit of optimism and a bright and trustful outlook a man will go much further, not only in his own personal life but in his vocation also, than he will if he looks upon all things with a pessimistic eye; and even in politics the case is the same. The German people certainly have a future, and there is one word, “Reichsverdrossenheit” [sullenness toward imperial destiny], which always offends him as often as he hears it. “What have we to do with sullenness? Rather work and look forward. I work—yes, not unwillingly—and I believe that I progress.”

In connection with this word, the Emperor described the way in which he worked every day and told how the difficulty of the many duties and tasks which stormed in upon him often made[250] him very weary. It was at such times that the need overcame him to get out of harness and see another part of the world, to become acquainted with other men who stimulated him again. Thus, his journeys to the north always invigorated him both mentally and physically.

The Emperor described earnestly and vividly how such a journey gradually rested and refreshed him. In the first days there was of course an abundance of work. Telegrams and letters came even to the boat, and he and those about him could not leave work for long. Then it became gradually more restful and solitary until eventually he found complete rest and could give himself up to the glories of nature. He then gave lively descriptions of his journeys, of the special beauties of the fjords, and of his impression of the midnight sun. He spoke especially of his pleasure at the simplicity and the cordiality of the people, who responded to him so naturally. Everything that oppressed him was cast aside for a few weeks—and yet the pleasures which he received were begrudged him by many people. He knew that he had always been called the “travelling Emperor,” but he had always taken it lightly and had not allowed his pleasure to be spoiled by it. We discover friends in travelling, even in our own home. He believed that the feeling of interdependence[251] was strengthened in that way and added that there were many Germans who did not know how beautiful their own land was and how much there was to be seen in it. He always rejoiced when he had learned to know a new portion of Germany. The south especially seemed to him beautiful, and he was very much drawn to it by the manner of life there. He always remembered, he said, with particular pleasure a journey which he had made many years before to Berchtesgaden and the beautiful days which he had been allowed to spend in the hills behind it with his uncle, the Duke of Coburg. If only travelling were not accompanied by so many inconveniences! It was always necessary to take along so many paraphernalia. Often he longed to seat himself in an automobile and go whizzing off for a few days, to return satisfied and ready to work again. And such refreshment was necessary in a serious calling like his own—doubly necessary because he had to fight so much misunderstanding; it was a thankless situation, because no one ever gave him credit for being independent. If he succeeded in anything, then all the world asked: “Who advised him?” If he was unsuccessful, then they said: “He did not understand it.” “What in the cases of other princes is accepted as self-evident becomes in mine a matter of debate. And, nevertheless, the one[252] answer is: ‘Because I wish the good of the German Empire and of the German people.’

“Many times also I meet with pleasant experiences—and most often on these very journeys which are made such a reproach to me.” So the days in Münich would remain an untroubled joy to him which he would never forget. The warmth and heartiness in the behavior of the population as well as the beautiful picture, gay with color, of the city in its artistic decorations had completely charmed him.

The conversation then turned upon several questions of literature and politics. The Emperor also related some anecdotes concerning his own family, and here the intimacy with which he spoke was particularly agreeable. He said merely, “my wife” and “my Buben” [boys]. In a particularly sincere manner the Emperor spoke of our regents, whose energy and self-sacrifice in such trying days he lauded, and expressed the wish that the Great Prince might preserve us all for a long time to come.



November 17, 1906

The policy of introducing legislation in the interest of the laboring classes may be said to have been inaugurated by Emperor William I in 1881. If one of its aims was to alleviate the condition of this class and to promote the welfare of Germany generally, another and perhaps its most important aim in Bismarck’s eyes was to stem the growth of the Social Democratic party and bring about a greater sense of solidarity within the empire. In this latter aim of “taking the wind out of the sails” of the Social Democratic party it had not proved successful at the time of the accession of William II. He began his reign with the idea of making still further concessions and on this point broke with Bismarck. When these again failed to conciliate the Social Democrats, he took measures to legislate against them. He declared, as we have seen, on one occasion: “For me, every Social Democrat is synonymous with enemy of the nation and of the Fatherland.” (May 14, 1889.) The fact that the party has continued to increase has always been a thorn in his side, and his attitude has been more or less contradictory with regard to the working classes; so that occasionally, as here, he seems to attempt to threaten and conciliate at the same time.

Twenty-five years ago to-day the late Emperor and King, William the Great, made his memorable[254] announcement, and I welcome the opportunity of calling to mind with reverent gratitude this work of peace through which my noble ancestor inaugurated new lines of legislation for the protection of the economically weak. In obedience to his lofty will, with the hearty approval of the allied governments and the intelligent co-operation of the Reichstag, we succeeded in so advancing the difficult and multifarious development of the state’s labor legislation, in the domain of sick, accident, and disability insurance, that those deserving help in their day of need now possess a regularly constituted legal claim. Thanks to the comprehensive acts of the realm and of the employers as well as to their own contributions, the laborers have hereby attained a much higher degree of security with regard to their means of livelihood and the support of their families. But the great and fruitful ideas in the imperial message have not only inaugurated this condition in our own Fatherland but have served as an epoch-making example far beyond her borders. Unfortunately, through lasting opposition in the very quarter which believes that it has a right to represent the interests of labor the fulfilment of the highest aims of the imperial message is being checked and delayed. Nevertheless, I believe that a recognition of what has been done and a[255] growing realization of the limits of the economically possible will in all circles of the German people bring about its final triumph. Then the hope of Emperor William that the laboring man’s insurance would be a lasting pledge of internal peace for the Fatherland will have been fulfilled. With this in mind, it is my firm will that legislation in the domain of social and political provisions should not cease, but that it should be carried out toward the fulfilling of the highest Christian duty with regard to the protection and the welfare of the weak and needy. But the task proposed by the spirit of the imperial message and its lofty framer cannot be carried out through merely legal acts and provisions. I gladly recognize to-day that in the German people there has never been a lack of men and women who willingly and joyfully gave up their strength in loving service for the good of their neighbor; and to all of those who devote themselves in unselfish sacrifice to the great social work of our time I express my imperial thanks.

I commission you to bring this decree to general notice.

Issued to the Imperial Chancellor, Donaueschingen, November 17, 1906.

William, I. R.



February 5, 1907—October 18, 1911


Berlin, February 5, 1907

A number of scandals in army and colonial administration had been exposed in 1906. It will be remembered that for years back the Emperor had been insisting on union between the various religious creeds. This was perhaps due in part to a spirit of toleration, but to a larger extent it was due to the fact that the Centre party (Catholic) had for a number of years been in control. The Reichstag of 1906 was dissolved, ostensibly over the government’s quarrel with the Centre party over the comparatively paltry sum of $2,000,000 demanded for the Southwest African colony. In reality the causes probably lay deeper. The late Reichstag had voted an insufficient sum for the navy and was beginning to object to the increasing taxes on the necessities of life. The Navy League was demanding a doubling of the German fleet. The government seemed to wish to undertake a[257] more rapid policy of expansion. Mr. Barker is authority for the statement that leaders of the imperialistic agitation had gone so far as to recommend that if the Reichstag did not vote the credits necessary for doubling the fleet, a coup d’état should be effected by the government and that it should levy the taxes and govern in case of necessity against the will of the Reichstag or without the Reichstag. The expansionist policy was strongly advocated by the Colonial party and the Navy League and was championed by the Chancellor. As the Social Democrats opposed increases in taxation, they were likewise now specially under the ban of official disapproval. There are usually about forty parties in the Reichstag. The issue was, therefore, clearly drawn between a policy of imperialism and a stronger insistence on world-policy, on the one hand, and Social Democracy and the opposition on the other. The Emperor and the Chancellor, particularly the latter, threw themselves vigorously into the campaign, and in spite of the support of the Centre party the Social Democrats lost thirty-six representatives and their representation was reduced to forty-three. Although the Social Democrats have to a certain point supported the policy of commercial expansion, their defeat here may be looked upon as the unconditioned triumph of imperialism.

On the night of February 5, when it was announced that the Social Democrats had been defeated, a crowd gathered about the palace, and when the Emperor returned at about midnight from the meeting of the Electrical Society, where[258] he had delivered an address, he stepped out on his balcony and made the following speech to the crowd:


With my whole heart I thank you for the beautiful demonstration of homage which you have shown me. It arises from the feeling that you are proud to have done your duty toward the Fatherland; in the phrase of our Chancellor, you are able to ride, and you will ride down everything that opposes us if all conditions and creeds stand together in firm union. Do not allow this hour of celebration to end like a passing wave of patriotic enthusiasm, but stand firmly to the path on which you have started. I close with the words of the great poet Kleist in his “Prince von Homburg” when old Kottwitz speaks to the Great Elector somewhat as follows: “What do we care for the rules according to which the enemy fights if he is beaten in the fighting? We have now learned the art of conquering him and are filled with the desire to practise it further.”[42]

[42] The exact passage runs as follows, though the lines are separated in the play and do not occur in this order:

“What, I pray you, do you care for the rule
According to which the enemy fights, if only
He goes down before you with all his flags?
The rule that conquers him is the highest rule.”

Act V, Scene 5.



Münster, August 31, 1907

The following address of a general character, which represents the Emperor’s faith in God and in Germany, was delivered at a banquet in the Westphalian Provincial Museum. It is somewhat similar in its general attitude to the one delivered about a month later at the unveiling of the national monument at Memel.

I wish to express to the representatives of the province whom I have gathered about me to-day my warmest thanks for the way in which I have everywhere been received in this beautiful country of Westphalia. I would also like to repeat to you in the name of her Majesty, the Empress and Queen, how disconsolate she is that it was unfortunately not possible for her to celebrate the Westphalian days with you and to come into personal contact with the Westphalian people.

The province of Westphalia offers an attractive picture of a state in which it has been proved possible to reconcile historical, religious, and industrial differences through love and loyalty for a common Fatherland. The province is made up of several districts, of which many have for a long time belonged to the crown of Prussia, while many others have been but recently acquired. They, however,[260] vie with one another in their loyalty to our house. As I make no difference between old and new districts, so I also make no difference between the adherents to the Catholic and the Protestant creeds. Let them both stand upon the foundation of Christianity and they are both bound to be true citizens and obedient subjects. All the children of my country stand equally near to my heart, which is devoted to the Fatherland. In its industrial relations the province also offers a highly edifying example. It shows that the great branches of industry do not need to harm each other and that the welfare of the one works for the good of the others also. The farmer diligently cultivates his red Westphalian soil, holding fast to the traditions which have come down to him from ages past; a sturdy character, with unyielding energy and lofty purpose, of loyal nature, a firm foundation for our state. Therefore, the protection of agriculture lies especially near my thoughts. Your citizen brings his cities ever nearer to perfection; there are works for the benefit of the public—museums and collections, hospitals and churches. And deep in your mountains lie hidden the treasures which, mined by the diligent hands of the brave mountain people, give to industry the opportunity to develop itself—that industry, the pride of the nation, wonderful in its progress,[261] the envy of all the world. May it be permitted to gather together further treasures for our national wealth and to increase abroad the good reputation of the thoroughness and excellence of German work.

In this connection I am mindful also of those laborers who, in these vast industrial undertakings, tend the great blast-furnaces and of those who, far from the daylight, accomplish their work with steady hands in the leads of the mines. Consideration for them, for their prosperity and their welfare I have taken over as a precious heritage from my late grandfather, and it is my wish and my will, in the province of such social regulations, to hold fast to the principles laid down in the memorable message of Emperor William the Great.

The lovely picture of unity which the province of Westphalia presents to the observer I would gladly see made general over our entire Fatherland. I believe that for such a unity of all our citizens, of all our conditions, only one means is possible, and that is religion. Not, indeed, understood in the sense of strict theological doctrine, but in the broader sense, practical for daily life. I must here go back to my own experience. In the long period of my reign—it is now the twentieth year since I came to the throne—I have had to do with many men and I have had to en[262]dure much from them; many times unconsciously, and unfortunately many times consciously, they have hurt me grievously. And if at such moments I have been in danger of losing my temper and thoughts of revenge have arisen, I have asked myself what were the means best fitted to temper anger and increase moderation. The only one which I have found is to say to myself: “All men are like you, and, although they do you harm, they bear a soul born in the realms of light above, to which we all wish to return, and through their souls they have a part of the Creator within them.” Whoever thinks in this way will judge his fellow men mildly. If this idea of mutual forbearance could only be spread among the German people, then the first condition for a complete unity would be established. This can only be accomplished if we tend toward one central ideal—the person of our Redeemer, the Man who called us brothers, who lived as an example for all of us—the most personal of all personalities. He still wanders among the people, and we are all conscious of Him in our hearts. In looking up to Him our people must find their union, and they must build firmly upon His words, concerning which He Himself has said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” If they do that, then they will succeed. To such co-operation[263] I should like to-day to invite especially the men of Westphalia. For, as I have before explained, in their province they have understood how to present that charming spectacle of differences reconciled. They will also understand me first and best. In this spirit let old and new districts, citizens, farmers, and laborers hold together and unitedly work together through loyalty and love for the Fatherland. Then the German people will be the rock of granite upon which our Lord God can build and complete his work of culture in the world. Then will the words of the poet be fulfilled when he says: “In contact with German life, the world will grow well again.” To whosoever is ready to offer me his hand on this I shall be most grateful and I will accept it joyfully, no matter who or of what condition he may be. I believed that I would be most quickly understood by the Westphalians, and therefore I have turned to them.

I now raise my glass with the wish that God’s blessing may rest upon the red Westphalian earth and upon all its people, that I may be permitted still longer to maintain peace in order that they may follow their calling undisturbed. God bless Westphalia! The province of Westphalia—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!



London, November 16, 1907

In November and December, 1907, the Emperor paid a visit to England. On this occasion the degree of Doctor of Civil Law was conferred upon him by Oxford University. Ever since the Morocco incident, in 1905, the feeling between the two countries had been somewhat strained and newspapers on both sides of the channel had helped to foment discontent. To a group of English journalists who had visited Germany during the summer the Emperor gave an audience and addressed them as follows:


I greatly appreciate your greeting. It gives me pleasure to think that your visit to Germany during the past summer has been so fruitful and that you are satisfied with the welcome accorded you by my countrymen. The power which you possess is great and extremely beneficial when it is used as a means for strengthening the feeling of friendship among the peoples. Your address shows that this task lies near to your hearts. I thank you, therefore, for your appearance here to-day. I rejoice to have seen you and hope that you will exert your influence to foster between our two nations the friendly feelings which are so necessary to the peace of Europe. We belong to[265] the same race and have the same religion. These are bonds which should be strong enough to preserve harmony and friendship between us.


Strasburg, August 30, 1908

The Emperor delivered the following address at a banquet after the imperial manœuvres in Alsace-Lorraine. The general situation in Alsace-Lorraine has been discussed in connection with the address to the delegates of the Landesausschuss on March 14, 1891.

I bid you, gentlemen, heartily welcome and express to you the warmest thanks of the Empress and myself for the beautiful reception through which, here as in Metz, the people of Alsace-Lorraine have given so telling an expression of their love and loyalty. My heart also bids me thank you once more for the restoration of the old castle of Hohkönigsburg, especially the people of Lorraine for their patriotic attitude and the donation of the charming Lorraine Room in the castle. For more than thirty-seven years you have now been able to follow your different callings in peace, and beautiful Alsace-Lorraine, keeping pace with the unexpected development of the German Empire, has in this time blossomed forth most joy[266]ously. As inhabitants of this border-land, you naturally have the greatest interest in the further maintenance of peace, and I rejoice to be able to express to you my innermost conviction that the peace of Europe is in no danger. It rests upon too firm a foundation to be easily disturbed through instigations and slanders aroused in certain quarters by jealousy and envy. A solid security of the first rank is afforded by the consciences of the princes and statesmen of Europe who know themselves responsible to God and feel for the life and prosperity of the people intrusted to their charge. On the other hand, it is the wish and will of the people themselves to make themselves useful in the further development of the magnificent acquisitions of their progressive civilization and to measure their strength in peaceful competition. And, finally, peace will be secured and protected also through our forces on water and on land—through the German people in arms! Proud of the unequalled discipline and love of honor of her armies, Germany is determined, without threatening others, to carry these to still greater heights and so to expand as to further her own interests without either favoring or doing harm to any one. With God’s help and under the protection of the German eagle, you can therefore follow still further your peaceful callings and garner the fruits of[267] your industry. May the blessing of God rest upon your work at all times! Long life to the German province Alsace-Lorraine!


October 28, 1908

Perhaps the most startling incident in the Emperor’s reign and the most extraordinary evidence of what may be called his “personal diplomacy” policy was brought out by the publication of an interview in the Daily Telegraph of London. German sympathies before and during the Boer War had been strongly pro-Boer. On the third of January, 1896, the Emperor had telegraphed to President Krüger: “I beg to express to you my sincere congratulations that, without help from foreign powers, you have succeeded with your own people and by your own strength in driving out the armed bands which attempted to disturb the peace of your country and in re-establishing order and in defending the independence of your people from attacks from outside.”

The German people had, therefore, assumed that the Emperor shared their friendliness toward the Boers and that the government was observing a policy of neutrality at least. When they learned that his General Staff had been called upon, and that he had prepared a plan of campaign against the Boers, a universal shout of protest was raised. The publication of this interview, which was designed to conciliate England, had a contrary effect[268] upon Holland, and the feeling that their ruler was held down by no sense of responsibility was borne in forcibly upon the people. The matter was made the subject of innumerable controversies, debates in the Reichstag, and investigations. It was originally announced that the interview had been given to an English diplomat who had retired to private life. It was discovered that such was not the case. It had been granted to an English journalist who had written certain flattering articles about the Emperor. As for the text, it was admitted that it was substantially authentic; it had been shown to and had practically received the visé of the German Foreign Office. The Emperor’s Chancellor, however, had not seen the interview and under the storm of criticism offered his resignation. This the Emperor did not accept, and the Chancellor attempted to defend the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Emperor withdrew and for a time, like Achilles, pondered in his tent. Even the Chancellor had to admit the Emperor’s indiscretion and to inform his sovereign that it would be impossible to carry out any consistent foreign policy if the Emperor did not observe a proper reserve in his public and private utterances.

Any number of projects were presented in the November debates of the Reichstag for changing the Constitution, to bring about co-operation between the Reichstag and the Emperor in the appointment and dismissal of Chancellors and declarations of war, and for introducing a law to bring about ministerial responsibility. Nothing[269] came of these, however, and we shall see from the Königsberg speech (August 25, 1910) that the chastening which the Emperor had received on this occasion had no particularly lasting effect. Although both the interview and the telegram are undoubtedly authentic (the interview was published in official government organs in Germany, like the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, and by the Wolff Bureau), they are not included in any official collection of the Emperor’s utterances, and Penzler, of course, does not print them with the speeches. The interview as here given is taken from the account of the London Times, of October 29, 1908.

The Emperor, who is stated to have spoken with “impulsive and unusual frankness,” began by declaring that “Englishmen, in giving the rein to suspicions unworthy of a great nation,” were “mad as March hares.” “What more can I do,” he asked, “than I have done? I declared with all the emphasis at my command, in my speech at Guildhall, that my heart is set upon peace and that it is one of my dearest wishes to live on the best of terms with England.

“My task is not of the easiest. The prevailing sentiment among large sections of the middle and lower classes of my own people is not friendly to England. I am, therefore, so to speak, in a minority in my own land, but it is a minority of[270] the best elements, just as it is in England with respect to Germany. That is another reason why I resent your refusal to accept my pledged word that I am the friend of England.”

The writer reminded his Majesty that “not England alone, but the whole of Europe, had viewed with disapproval the recent action of Germany in allowing the German consul to return from Tangier to Fez.” His Majesty replied, “with a gesture of impatience,” that German subjects in Fez were “crying for help and protection.”

“And why not send him? Are those who charge Germany with having stolen a march on the other powers aware that the French consular representative had already been in Fez for several months when Doctor Vassel set out?”

The Emperor then reverted to “the subject uppermost in his mind—his proved friendship for England.” It was commonly believed in England, he said, that during the South African War Germany had been consistently hostile to her. German opinion, he admitted, was hostile—“bitterly hostile”; but not so official Germany. In fact, while other European peoples had received and fêted the Boer delegates who came to solicit European intervention, he alone had refused to receive them at Berlin, “where the German people would[271] have crowned them with flowers.” His Majesty continued:

“Again, when the struggle was at its height, the German Government was invited by the governments of France and Russia to join with them in calling upon England to put an end to the war. The moment had come, they said, not only to save the Boer republics, but also to humiliate England to the dust. What was my reply? I said that so far from Germany joining in any concerted European action to put pressure upon England and bring about her downfall, Germany would always keep aloof from politics that could bring her into complications with a sea power like England. Posterity will one day read the exact terms of the telegram—now in the archives of Windsor Castle—in which I informed the sovereign of England of the answer I had returned to the powers which then sought to compass her fall. Englishmen who now insult me by doubting my word should know what were my actions in the hour of their adversity.”

These were not the only proofs which his Majesty had given of sympathy with the British cause:

“Just at the time of your Black Week, in the December of 1899, when disasters followed one another in rapid succession, I received a letter from Queen Victoria, my revered grandmother,[272] written in sorrow and affliction, and bearing manifest traces of the anxieties which were preying upon her mind and health. I at once returned a sympathetic reply. Nay, I did more. I bade one of my officers procure for me as exact an account as he could obtain of the number of combatants in South Africa on both sides, and of the actual position of the opposing forces. With the figures before me, I worked out what I considered to be the best plan of campaign under the circumstances, and submitted it to my General Staff for their criticism. Then I despatched it to England, and that document, likewise, is among the state papers at Windsor Castle, awaiting the serenely impartial verdict of history. And, as a matter of curious coincidence, let me add that the plan which I formulated ran very much on the same lines as that which was actually adopted by Lord Roberts and carried by him into successful operation.”

In conclusion, his Majesty dwelt upon the importance to Germany of a powerful fleet. Germany must be able to protect her growing commerce and manifold interests “in even the most distant seas.” “Germany,” he went on, “looks ahead. She must be prepared for any eventualities in the far East. Who can foresee what may take place in the Pacific in the days to come?” Looking to the accomplished rise of Japan and the[273] possible national awakening of China, he urged that “only those powers which have great navies will be listened to with respect when the future of the Pacific comes to be solved,” and that even England herself may welcome the existence of a German fleet “when they speak together on the same side in the great debates of the future.”


Manzell, November 10, 1908

With Prince Fürstenberg the Emperor journeyed from Donaueschingen to Manzell in order to be present at a flight of the dirigible Z-1. Count Zeppelin received the Emperor and conducted him in a motor-boat to the dirigible hangar. Prince Fürstenberg, Admiral von Müller, and General von Plessen ascended with the count. The Emperor did not make the flight. After the landing of the airship he bestowed upon Count Zeppelin the order of the Black Eagle with the following words:

In my name and in the name of our entire German people I heartily congratulate your Excellency on this magnificent work which you have so wonderfully displayed before me to-day. Our Fatherland can be proud to possess such a son—the greatest German of the twentieth century—who through his invention has brought us to a new[274] point in the development of the human race. It is not too much to say that we have to-day lived through one of the greatest moments in the evolution of human culture. I thank God, with all Germans, that he has considered our people worthy to name you one of us. Might it be permitted to us all, as it has been to you, to be able to say with pride in the evening of our life, that we had been successful in serving our dear Fatherland so fruitfully! As a token of my admiring recognition, which certainly all your guests gathered here share with the entire German people, I bestow upon you herewith my high Order of the Black Eagle. [Then followed the investing by his Majesty and the head marshal, Prince Fürstenberg.] Now allow me, my dear count, to bestow unofficially upon you the accolade! [Embraces him three times.] His Excellency, Count Zeppelin, the Conqueror of the Air—Hurrah!


Hamburg, June 22, 1909

The Emperor, as an enthusiastic yachtsman, has made it a point to be present, as we have seen, at nearly all of the Hamburg regattas. As he was this year to visit the Czar in the furtherance of his “personal diplomacy,” he had already been forced to decline their invitation; but finding it possible[275] to attend at the last moment, he made all possible speed to arrive at Hamburg, where his recently constructed yacht Meteor was to make her first start. The banquet, at which the Emperor spoke, took place on board the Hamburg-American Liner Deutschland.

Your Magnificence:

I pray you accept my most cordial and heartfelt thanks for this friendly greeting in the midst of men so well known and sympathetic to me. It was, indeed, a severe struggle of conscience for me, placed between my duty and my pleasure, to have to give up eventually the pleasure of being the guest of Hamburg. But it goes without saying that, as compared with the welfare of the realm, personal wishes must be silent, and with a heavy heart I decided, therefore, to send word that it would not be possible for me to be your guest and take part in the series of sports. Happily, however, things arranged themselves favorably. That ship which you all know, delivered to me by Vulcan, my yacht Hohenzollern, has again competed with her ancient and renowned reputation. We hurried and flew through the Baltic, and what the yacht could not accomplish the railroad took care of; and so it was possible for me to arrive in time for the splendid arrangements for the Hamburg racing day and, while responding to the[276] wishes of M. S.,[43] at the same time to enter again that circle of men and women whom I prize so highly. It is my duty on the present day to express my deepest gratitude to the city of Hamburg for her warm and hearty reception, which seems to increase from year to year, if that be possible. I must also express my appreciation of the hospitality extended to me in the house of your Magnificence, and also for the beautiful boat which I have received from the hands of a Hamburg master of his craft. We have, therefore, at last before us the proof for which I have been striving for years—that, just as in the building of war-ships and of liners, so too, in yacht construction, we now stand upon our own feet. It is a worthy vessel, built with German hands, out of German materials, and manned from stem to stern by German men. I hope that before the year is out she will clip the waves and show herself to advantage in foreign ports. We follow sport here, and not politics; but your Magnificence has been good enough to touch upon points which now deeply move all German hearts. I still hope that the sense of collective responsibility will, in the hearts of the representatives of our people, be stronger than party feeling, for I assume that no[277] one among you wishes to take upon his shoulders the responsibility of thwarting a reform which is absolutely necessary to the Fatherland’s internal and external welfare. [Bravo!] You have followed with interest my journey to the Finnish coast, where I was so warmly and hospitably received by his Majesty, the Emperor of All the Russias, and by his people. I am pleased to be in a position to give you, as representatives of the commercial and business world, the following interpretation of the significance of that visit, since you are particularly interested in the peaceful shaping of the future. His Majesty, the Emperor, and myself have agreed that our meeting is to be looked upon as an important pledge of peace. As monarchs we consider ourselves responsible to God for the weal and woe of our people, whom we wish to advance as far as possible along peaceful paths and bring to fullest fruition. All peoples need peace in order that under its protection they may devote their undisturbed attention to the great cultural problems of their economic and commercial development. For this reason we shall strive as far as lies in our power to work, with the help of God, for the furtherance and maintenance of peace. Naturally, in such a time, sport also can be developed to the fullest degree. I therefore empty my glass to the hospitable city of Hamburg and[278] to my colleagues who are here assembled. Three hurrahs for the city of Hamburg and the Hamburg-American Line! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

[43] Max Schinckel, president of the Racing Club, who had invited the Emperor.


Karlsruhe, September 11, 1909

The following address was delivered at Karlsruhe by the Emperor after his return from Austria in 1909.

I extend to you my heartiest thanks for the friendly words of welcome which in the name of the citizens of Karlsruhe you have offered me. I have so often stopped here at Karlsruhe that I am no longer a stranger among you. With you I have lived through joyful and sorrowful days. On the present day, as you have said, I am here to inspect this portion of our army. We Germans are a people who rejoice in weapons and who lightly and joyfully wear our uniforms, because we know that it preserves the peace for us in which alone our work can prosper. The review from which I have just returned showed me the soldierly sons of Baden, who, commanded by their distinguished sovereign, have given me the deepest satisfaction. As long as there are wars our army constitutes the “rocher de bronze” upon which peace is based.[279] Our army serves to protect it and to maintain the position in the world which is rightfully ours. For this purpose also such strenuous days of effort are devoted to its development. I am convinced that, if need arises, with the help of God and under His protection, it will give a fitting account of itself. I ask you, Herr Burgomaster, to be the interpreter of my thanks and of those of her Majesty, the Empress, for the splendid and hearty reception which the citizens of Karlsruhe have offered us.


Königsberg, August 25, 1910

It was at Königsberg that the coronation of the Emperor’s grandfather took place, or rather, it was here that William I crowned himself King of Prussia. This express disclaimer of any responsibility to the people may be found in several speeches, but nowhere was the ex me mea nata corona attitude more forcibly expressed than on this occasion. Ordinarily there had been no coronations in Prussia, as they were considered a useless expense. As the predecessor of Emperor William I had granted the people a constitution, William I was evidently going to insist upon his prerogative and did so by taking the crown unto himself and making his famous statement. His conduct and that of his predecessors has been discussed in chapter I.


My heart bids me express to the men of this province the pleasure which her Majesty and I feel on finding ourselves again within the borders of this beautiful country and on having been received with such enthusiasm by the citizens of our loyal city and of the province. The sentiment that finds expression now in Königsberg proves that it is an entirely unique bond which joins the city and the province to our house. And, in fact, if one looks back upon the history of the country and of the house it becomes evident that great and important portions are common to both. Here it was that the Great Elector, by his own right, created himself the sovereign Duke in Prussia; here his son set the King’s crown upon his head; and the sovereign house of Brandenburg thus became one of the European powers. Frederick William I established here his authority as “rocher de bronze”; under Frederick the Great, the province shared in the joys and sorrows of his reign. Then came the difficult time of trial. The great soldier Emperor of the French resided here, and after the power of Prussia had been shattered he let both the city and the country feel his merciless hand. Here, however, the thoughts of raising up and freeing the Fatherland were first put into action. After Tauroggen,[44] when the old, unyield[281]ing York stirred up the people with his flaming speeches, came the courageous decision of the Prussian Diet to begin the work of liberation. And here my grandfather, again, by his own right, set the Prussian crown upon his head, once more distinctly emphasizing the fact that it was accorded him by the will of God alone and not by parliament or by any assemblage of the people or by popular vote, and that he thus looked upon himself as the chosen instrument of Heaven and as such performed his duties as regent and sovereign. And adorned with this crown, forty years ago, he rode forth to battle to win the Emperor’s crown also. Truly it was a long way to the time of the famous telegram of the Emperor to my late grandmother: “What a change through the providence of God!” This picture would, however, be incomplete if I did not mention one figure which especially in that year had occupied and gripped anew the Prussians and, I may truly say, the[282] whole German people. It is not possible to think of the time of our collapse and our revival, without remembering the figure of Queen Louise. The people of the city of Königsberg and the province of East Prussia likewise saw this angel in human form wandering among them and they were influenced by her and helped her to bear her grievous ills. The noble Queen has been described by many as going about among her subjects, and our people hold her in grateful remembrance. But I think that one thing cannot be sufficiently emphasized, and that is that in the general shattering of our Fatherland, when even the statesmen and leaders of the army gave up everything as lost, the Queen was the only one who never for one moment doubted for the future of the Fatherland. Through her example, through her letters, through her conversation, and through the bringing up of her children she showed the people the way in which to find themselves again. She showed them the way back to religion and with it to a recognition of and a confidence in themselves. She encouraged our people in the thought of rallying about the King again and of winning back our freedom. And after she—a noble martyr—had faded away and enthusiasm flamed forth in the land again and old and young seized their weapons to drive the intruder from[283] the country, then, in spirit, she marched before the colors and inspired the warriors with courage that the great work could be accomplished. What does the noble figure of Queen Louise teach us? It teaches us that, as she once imbued her sons with the one thought of restoring the country’s honor and of defending the Fatherland, so we men should cultivate all warlike virtues. As in the time of the liberation young and old rallied to the standard and gave everything they had—when even women and girls did not spare their hair—so we must ever be prepared and keep our equipment intact, in view of the fact that the neighboring powers have made such astounding progress. For only upon our preparedness does our peace rest. And what shall our wives learn from the Queen? They will learn that the chief duty of German women lies not in the province of meetings and club life, not in reaching out after imaginary rights so that they may do as men do, but in the quiet work in the house and in the family. They are to educate the younger generation, especially in obedience and in respect toward their elders. They are to make clear to their children and to their children’s children that it is not a question to-day of living their own life at the expense of others or of achieving their own aims at the expense of the Fatherland, but that they must[284] singly and solely keep the Fatherland before their eyes and singly and solely devote all their powers and their thoughts to the good of the Fatherland. That is the lesson which has been bequeathed to us by this noble figure whom the Fatherland and the citizens of this city have so beautifully described on her simple monument as “the good genius of the Prussian people.” I cherish the hope that all of the people of East Prussia who have gathered here will understand me and that, as they return again to their work and their occupation, they will think of these things. We must co-operate for the good of the Fatherland, no matter who and where we are. And for me, too, the conduct of this vanished Queen will be an example, as it was for my grandfather. Looking upon myself as the instrument of the Lord, without regard for daily opinions and intentions, I go my way, which is devoted solely and alone to the welfare and peaceful development of the Fatherland. But in this work I need the co-operation of every one in the country and to this co-operation I would like to invite you also. I empty my glass in the hope that this attitude may ever prevail in the province of East Prussia and that it may lend me its assistance in my labors. Long live the province of East Prussia!—Long may she prosper!

[44] In 1812 Prussia was ostensibly an ally of France. It was due to General York, the commander of the Prussian Auxiliaries, rather than to the Emperor’s somewhat pusillanimous ancestor, King Frederick William, that Prussia was liberated from the rule of Napoleon. York commanded the Prussian troops who were to serve as auxiliaries to Napoleon. On December 30, 1812, he, on his own authority, concluded the convention of Tauroggen with the Russians by which he broke with the French and declared his corps neutral. The vacillating Prussian King, in spite of his country’s humiliation, was too solicitous about maintaining his throne to dare venture upon any really decisive action. It was popular pressure far more than the King’s (or even the Queen’s) initiative which brought about the national uprising against foreign domination.



Berlin, October 11, 1910

The active interest which the Emperor has always taken in higher education in Germany is evident in the following address. If he has given it a powerful organization he has taken from it by unconscious processes a large measure of its earlier freedom. The professorial caste has always been highly influential. During the Emperor’s reign it has been pressed into his service. Its present system of organization and its connection with the government puts the Emperor, or at least the minister appointed by him, in a position to distribute rewards. It is said that there are practically no Social Democrats teaching in higher institutions of learning.

In the early years of its foundation the university of Berlin rendered immense services to the patriotic cause, especially through the work of Fichte and Schleiermacher.

To my loyal Frederick-William University, I offer greeting and congratulations on this its hundredth anniversary!

From the day of its founding its fortunes have been intimately bound up with those of the Prussian-German Fatherland. When my ancestor King Frederick William III called it into ex[286]istence a hundred years ago, he did so in order to compensate the state with spiritual powers for what she had lost in physical power. Thus the University of Berlin was born out of the same creative genius from which sprung the regeneration of Prussia. And this spirit, which raised up Prussian Germany and which lived in Fichte, Schleiermacher, Savigny, and their friends, made the university even in a few years the centre of the spiritual and intellectual life of the Fatherland.

Truly, the University of Berlin was still far from being a universitas litterarum in the sense of William von Humboldt, but it has come ever nearer and nearer to this ideal. A stronghold of wisdom, she has won, far beyond the boundaries of Prussia and Germany, an international significance. Through the exchange of teachers and students these relations are visible externally. Through the activity which it shares in common with the rest of the universities of the country it now forms the “general institute of learning” which was intended at its founding.

In the meantime Humboldt’s plan, which comprised besides the university the totality of intellectual institutions, has not yet come to complete realization, and these hours of consecration seem to me especially fitted for preparing the way[287] for the completion of what appeared to him as the goal.

His great educational plan demanded, besides the academies of learning and the university, independent institutes for research as an integral part of the general educational organization. The founding of such institutions has not kept pace in Prussia with the development of the universities, and this defect, especially in our natural-science equipment, is becoming more and more noticeable as a result of the powerful forging ahead of the sciences. We need institutions which reach out beyond the limits of the universities, institutions untrammelled by aims of instruction, yet in close touch with the academy and the university, which shall serve entirely for research.

To call such research institutes into being as soon as possible seems to me a sacred duty of the present, and I hold it as my task, as father of my country, to bespeak the general interest for this undertaking. This high aim requires great expense and can be accomplished only if all circles interested in the progress of the sciences and in the welfare of the Fatherland are ready to co-operate in this significant task and to make sacrifices for it. I should like, therefore, to-day to lay upon the conscience and place before the eyes of every one the new aim with the impressive warning: “Tua[288] res agitur.” I hope and firmly trust that this work will succeed; indeed, although the plans have been disclosed only to a limited circle, from various parts of the country I have already received enthusiastic expressions of support and very considerable means; between nine and ten million [marks] have been placed at my disposal. I feel the need of expressing here in this place my warmest thanks to these unselfish donors.

But to secure lasting support for this undertaking, it is my wish, under my protection and my name, to found a society which shall set for itself the task of erecting and maintaining institutions for research. To this society I will gladly turn over the money given me for that purpose. To see to it that the institutions so founded shall not lack help from the state will be the care of my reign.[45]

[45] On the Emperor’s initiative, the Emperor William Society for the furthering of the sciences was founded. It has already called into being two scientific institutes, the Emperor William Institute for Chemistry and the Emperor William Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrical Chemistry. They were dedicated by the Emperor, October 23, 1912.

So may to-day be not only an occasion of jubilation for the University of Berlin, but may it also signify a further step in the development of German spiritual life!

And still one wish more I give to the university[289] on its way into a new century. May she, in loyal remembrance of the time of her founding, preserve her Prussian-German character! Learning is, indeed, the common property of the whole cultural world, and her acquisitions to-day halt at no boundaries. And yet—as every nation must preserve its own manner of life if it would emphasize its independent existence and its value for the whole—may the alma mater Berolinensis remain forever conscious that she is a German university. As formerly, so may she be for all time the seat of German manners and of German art! And may every one who has the honor to investigate, to teach, and to study within her walls devote himself to his task, filled with the sense for truth and for thoroughness with the earnestness and the love for all work which Goethe prized as the ornament of our people.

May the university further exercise her splendid privilege of fostering true knowledge, which, as Humboldt has so well said, comes from man’s inner being to be planted again in his inner being, which creates and reshapes character. Let her do this with that noble freedom which sets laws unto itself and with that sense of exaltation which comes from being the administrator of a treasure which belongs to the whole of humanity. “Communis hominum thesaurus situs est in magnis[290] veritatibus.[46] But all truth is God’s, and His spirit rests upon every work which is grounded in and strives toward the truth. May this spirit of truth live also in you students; may it be found in all the workings of my dear institution of learning! Then will her age be like her youth; she shall remain a city upon the hill, to which the peoples make pilgrimage, and an ornament and treasure of the Fatherland.

[46] This phrase is taken from Leibnitz’s dedication of the Miscellanea Berolinensia to King Frederick I.


October 27, 1910

The Emperor and Empress, accompanied by the Princess Victoria Luise, came to Brussels in order to repay the visit which the King and Queen of Belgium had made to Potsdam in May, 1910. At the time of the visit of King Albert to Berlin the Emperor did not take part in the festivities, as he was suffering from a wound in the hand. The honors were done by the Crown Prince. The Emperor’s speech at the banquet at the Royal Palace in Brussels calls for no comment.

The sincere words of friendship which your Majesty, in the name of her Majesty, the Queen, has just addressed to us, the Empress, my daughter, and me, as they sprang from warm hearts are[291] welcomed by warm hearts. We remember with greatest pleasure the visit which your Majesties made to us last spring at Potsdam, and it was a welcome duty of gratitude to return it as soon as possible. The brilliant reception prepared for us by your Majesties and the Belgian people in this splendid capital has stirred us to the depths and inspires us to heartier thanks in that we see in it an expression of the close bond which unites not only our families but our peoples. It is with friendliest sympathy that I and all Germany follow the astounding results which have accrued to the untiring energy of the Belgian people in all departments of trade and industry, the crowning display of which we have seen in the brilliantly successful World Exposition of this year. Belgian commerce embraces the whole circle of the earth, and it is in the peaceful work of culture that Germans and Belgians everywhere meet. Their cultivation of the more spiritual arts fills us with similar wonder when we behold to what a conspicuous place the poets and artists of Belgium have attained. May the trustful and friendly feelings, to which in recent times the relations of our governments bore such pleasing evidence, be ever more closely preserved! From your Majesty’s reign may happiness and blessing stream forth upon your house and upon your people! It is with this wish, which comes[292] from the very depths of my heart, that I propose long life to your Majesties, the King and Queen of the Belgians!


Cassel, August 19, 1911

The Emperor had been a student at the Friedrichs Gymnasium in Cassel, and in 1875 his parents had presented a flag to the school, which had now to be replaced. In turning over the new flag to the first man in the upper class, the Emperor took occasion to give the students certain advice, particularly with regard to the use of alcoholic beverages. His attitude here marks a decided innovation in Germany, and if his address is compared with the one delivered at Bonn (April 24, 1901), it will be seen how keenly aware he is of the changing tendencies of the times.

I have decided to have a new flag woven for the upper class instead of the one which my parents bestowed when I was a student and which has fallen a victim to time. The high school has asked to have the old one back again; I will have it mended so that it may be hung. I wish you to remember, through it, that from your walls and your studies a German Emperor has gone forth.

You have been busy with the studies of antiquity. Do not lay too much stress upon the in[293]cidents of their political life; for these relations have so changed that they cannot be applied to the present. You may well rejoice in many of the great figures and characters of antiquity, but Greek culture has one special trait which no other nation has shown. The harmony which our own time so sadly lacks, the Greek people showed in art, in life, in their motions, in their dress, yes, even in their systems of philosophy, and in the handling of their problems. I especially advise you to read what Chamberlain so trenchantly says on this point in the Introduction to his “Foundations of the Nineteenth Century.”

And then, above all, strive to know the history of your Fatherland. Learn to know the misery of our people in the later years of the Middle Ages, in the struggles between church and state and between the princes, in the strife of creeds during the Thirty Years’ War, when our people were trodden down and brought into the service of foreign peoples and dynasties with whom its interests had nothing in common, until the final great downfall in the time of Napoleon. The year 1870 first brought us a united German state again. And if you enter upon a political career, keep your eye upon the field as a whole, and do not be disturbed by parties. For these shove their interests before those of the Fatherland and often draw a curtain[294] between you and it. And if your political efforts threaten to bewilder you, I advise you to withdraw from them for a time—travel or go on a walking tour—and let Nature have her way. Then when you return you will have a clearer vision of the real relations. If at any time the waves overwhelm you, if the many phenomena of modern art and literature bewilder and depress you, you can always turn to these ideals of antiquity as a means of recovering your balance.

You are now ready to enter the university. Therefore I would like to give you one more counsel, which you must not take lightly, for it is to me a very serious matter. Alcohol is a great danger to our people, which, believe me, gives me great anxiety. I have led the government now during twenty-three years, and through the reports which pass through my hands I know how many crimes have been committed through alcohol. Direct your gaze for a moment to a neighboring land. The Americans are far ahead of us in this. At their universities there they do great things, as you may convince yourselves, since so many students come to us from there. There, at the reunions and at the great academic gatherings—for instance, at the inauguration of a president—no wine is seen on the whole table; and they get along very well without it. If you enter the uni[295]versity, steel your body through sport and through fencing—a thing I would blame in no one—or through rowing; but do not seek to make a record for yourself by seeing who can gulp down the greatest number of intoxicating drinks. Those are customs which come to us from another time. If you will take this attitude in the corps and societies, I shall be grateful to you. We have other tasks now than they had in former years and must strengthen our knowledge of national economy and finances. For it is worth Germany’s while to protect her position in the world, especially in the world market. Therefore we must all hold fast together.

I herewith turn the flag over to you. The primus omnium, so I understand, will carry it and will consider it an honor that he is the first one to do so.


Hamburg, August 27, 1911

After a religious service for the army, the Emperor and Empress visited the race-course at Grossborstel. The relations between Germany and England were becoming strained. At the time of the uprising in Morocco on the twenty-first of May, 1911, the French general Moinier took measures, so he said, to protect Europeans in Morocco and later besieged certain native cities.[296] Germany, pursuing her world-policy, immediately sent the gunboat Panther and later the cruiser Berlin to the harbor of Agadir, and assumed a threatening attitude, as she had done at Tangier and as Admiral Diedrichs had done at Manila. When the English made it plain that they would support France, in accordance with the entente reached in 1904, with regard to Morocco and Egypt, feeling between the two nations became tense and has remained so. The Emperor here, while insisting upon the place in the sun, is at the same time insisting on friendly competition. (See the discussion of the speech of March 31, 1905.)

Your Magnificence:

As often as her Majesty and I have the happy opportunity of coming to Hamburg, it becomes our duty to express our gratitude for the joyful reception and warm, heartfelt greeting which is accorded us by all classes of the Hamburg citizens. We have felt this again to-day and are constrained to express anew our thanks for the welcome on the part of the city. It is an index of how close the relations have become between the citizens of Hamburg and our house. As the highest commander of my army, I would at the same time like to express the joy I take in the fact that the Hanseatic cities are now about to express again their lively interest and their love and fondness for the regiments which bear their names. To me it is a[297] proof that the relationship between the garrisons and their cities is a deep and a close one, and that they are proud to give some outward recognition for the service which their sons have rendered in the past and for the zeal which they showed in their work of peace.

When, yesterday, the city of Hamburg enthusiastically greeted a portion of that army which has so long maintained peace, she did a very proper thing, for she understands that under the protection of peace she can devote herself to her labors. She is a world city and is situated on one of the greatest rivers of our Fatherland, and the breath of the sea and the wave beat of the tides come to her wharves. Just as for the human body, it is necessary for a nation to breathe in order to live. The breath of the body politic gives it life and strength. This breath is commerce. Long ago the far-sighted Great Elector coined the phrase: “Trade and navigation are the two main pillars of my state.”

In the twenty-three years since I mounted the throne it has been a pleasure to me to follow the progress which the Hanseatic cities and especially Hamburg have achieved in their restless advance. If I do everything that I can on my side to help the Hanseatic cities, it is a duty that I gladly discharge.


But we need not wonder that the great increase of trade in our newly united Fatherland has disquieted many people in the world. I, nevertheless, believe that in the domain of commerce competition is healthful; it is necessary in order to spur on states and nations to new achievement. Indeed, it is the same thing with sports, as we have seen to-day at the magnificent race-course, where before the eyes of thousands of Hamburg’s men and so many of her beautiful women the officers of my army rode in competition. There we see one rider who in thought has already won first prize, and on the right and on the left the next two work up to him and it becomes an earnest contest between the three. Then he who up to this point was at the head reaches for his whip, not in order to strike his two rival riders but his own horse, and he gives him the spur. In the same way competition between nations can be fought out in peace.

The powerfully developing German fleet of war, which is distinguished by its cult of manliness and discipline, has in the last decades been created by the German people as a protection to trade and navigation. It represents the will of the German people to count for something upon the seas. This growing young fleet is particularly proud of the interest of Hamburg’s citizens. If, then, I have[299] correctly interpreted this expression of your enthusiasm, I believe that I dare assume that it is your purpose to further strengthen our fleet in order that we may be certain that no one will dare challenge the “place in the sun” which should be rightfully ours. I, therefore, raise my glass to the health of the Hanseatic cities, and especially to Hamburg, the greatest of them all! The gentlemen know what I think about Hamburg and how I feel myself bound to her. And at the risk of repeating myself I say it again: the citizens of Hamburg and I understand each other! The city of Hamburg—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!


Aix, October 18, 1911

The special fondness of the Emperor for Aix is indicated in the address of June 19, 1902. With his assistance the cathedral had been restored in this year, and a marble tablet had been set up in his honor. If the Emperor’s father was concerned about restoring the splendor of the crown, it is also true that he was by nature one of the most liberal of the Hohenzollerns. The book which Frederick I gave his son to read was in all probability the magnificent volume, “Die Reichskleinodien” by Doctor Fr. Bock, published in Vienna in 1864.


My Dear Burgomaster:

You have strengthened with your friendly words of greeting the deep impression which I received to-day as I found myself within your walls. I thank you, the city magistrates and the citizens, most heartily for this memorable day. I do not see how the eightieth birthday of my father, who was all too soon taken from us, could have been celebrated more beautifully than through the solemn unveiling of the magnificent equestrian statue dedicated to his memory, which we owe to the unselfish reverence of the citizens of Aix for the favorite of the German people. I congratulate the city on this new monument, which will serve as a bond and a joy for generations yet unborn. It will indicate that, in spite of all the frictions and political, social, and religious differences of our time, a firm bond of love and trust, nevertheless, surrounds and binds together the prince and the people.

If ever a prince deserved a monument here in Aix it was my late father. From my childhood I had occasion to observe with what interest he devoted himself to the study of the German Emperors and of their traditions and how deeply he was impressed by the power of their position and the splendor of the old German imperial crown. When as a lad I played in his room and had earned[301] some reward through my good behavior, he allowed me to turn the leaves of a magnificent volume in which were represented the jewels, insignia, robes, and weapons of the Emperors, and finally, in brilliant colors, the crown itself. How his eyes glistened when he told stories of the coronations at Aix with their ceremonies and banquets, of Charlemagne, of Barbarossa, and their greatness! He always closed by saying: “That must all come again, the power of the empire must rise, and the glitter of the Emperor’s crown must shine forth once more. Barbarossa must be freed from the tower again!” And it was granted him by Providence to play a large part in the accomplishment of this great work. On the bloody field of battle he helped his honored father to win the Emperor’s crown and the unity of the German people.

Educated by my father for the high position which was one day to be mine, I grew up in wonder and in reverence for the Emperor’s crown, which, with its burden and its responsibility, I have taken over from him. It is a sacred jewel from which, under God’s protection, many blessings have gone forth upon the Fatherland and which has proved itself a shield for the national honor. All Germans can look up to it with trust, and it will show itself the stronger the more it is surrounded and[302] supported by loyal affection and earnest co-operation.

As my forefathers bestowed their special favor upon Aix, so with me it has always been a pleasure to be able to show her my interest and good wishes, within whose walls here, in the extreme western part of the empire, German culture and German manners have found a place fortified by a famous past and traditions many hundred years old. May the city in the future also, with her salutary springs and beautiful wooded hills, with her manifold industries and her far-reaching commerce, grow, flourish, and prosper! May the citizens, through loyalty to God, King, and Fatherland, pursue their work and enjoy the fruits of their industry in peace! The old imperial city and her loyal citizens—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!



February 7, 1912—June 23, 1914


Berlin, February 7, 1912

As a result of the Morocco crisis and the increasing imminence of international difficulties, the war footing of the German army had been increased to 3,860,000 men. The navy had been steadily extended, and projects for further increases in both army and navy were to be introduced at this session of the Reichstag and to be granted. The question of taxation was becoming more and more serious. In view of the project for increased armament and higher taxation, Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg had earnestly urged all parties to unite against the Social Democrats. His efforts were not nearly so successful as had been those of Bülow in 1907. One hundred and ten Social Democrats were returned. It is perhaps significant that at this session the Reichstag voted a bill creating a German oil company, which was to conduct its operations under the supervision of the government and thus render Germany more independent of foreign countries in this regard.


Honored Sirs:

In the name of the affiliated governments, I bid the newly elected Reichstag welcome!

To maintain the solid framework of the empire and the order of the state undisturbed, to increase the welfare of the people in all classes and conditions, to protect and raise the strength and credit of the nation is the aim of all my efforts. In this I find myself in accord with my honored colleagues, and I cherish the conviction that you, as the chosen representatives of the nation, will exert your best powers in this common work.

For a generation past questions of social regulation have occupied a prominent place in the legislation of the realm. Even at the last session of the previous Reichstag the benefits of insurance were extended to a large portion of the population. The same social spirit with which the work has previously gone forward must prevail even further. For development does not stand still.

The finances of the realm have attained a firm position. On the basis of definitely calculated contributions from the states, we have succeeded in establishing a balance in the imperial economy, and by the help of the surplus which resulted we have relieved the excess of the budget. By holding fast to the rigorous policies in vogue up to the[305] present, the empire will within a short time arrive at a complete restoration of its finances.

It fills me with satisfaction when I think to what a point the free spirit of enterprise has attained in industry and crafts, in trade, and in commerce, and how, through the increasing perfection of its technic, agriculture has gradually blossomed forth again. In view of this gratifying progress, the affiliated governments will henceforth not neglect to strengthen the foundation of our customs policy by means of alterations and the addition of new trading regulations.

A project which will be shortly put before you is to serve for the strengthening of the German interests in foreign countries. It regulates dependence upon the empire and the state in such a way that it will be easier for natives of Germany in foreign parts to remain citizens of the empire, or, in case they have lost their imperial rights, to recover them again.[47]

[47] This project resulted in a law promulgated by the Emperor July 22, 1913. It has been made the subject of considerable hostile comment in foreign countries, as it would seem under certain conditions, not definitely fixed, to permit a German subject to divide his allegiance.

Article 17 of this law asserts that (German) citizenship is lost through the acquiring of citizenship in a foreign country. It, however, refers to Article 25, which makes the following conditions:

Art. 25, Sec. 2. Citizenship [German] shall not be lost by him who, before acquiring citizenship in a foreign country, shall, on his request, have received the written permission to retain [German] citizenship from the proper authority in his home state. The German consul is to be consulted before granting this permission.

Art. 25, Sec. 3. The Imperial Chancellor, on a vote of the Bundesrat, can decree that the permission specified in Section 2, shall not be granted to persons who wish to acquire citizenship in a specified foreign state.

On the face of it, this decree would seem to be open to the interpretation that it lies within the power of the German Bundesrat to allow a man who has ostensibly acquired citizenship in a foreign country to be counted as a German citizen.

The success of our work of peace at home and[306] overseas depends upon the empire’s remaining powerful enough to stand for and protect its national honor, its possessions, and its rightful interests in the world at all times. On this account it is my continual duty and care to maintain and strengthen by land and by sea the armies of the German people, which does not lack young men capable of bearing arms. Bills to this end are in preparation and will be laid before you together with proposals which will provide for the increased expenditure. If, Honored Sirs, you help to carry out this great project you will be doing the Fatherland a great service.

We have given a new proof of our willingness to settle international points of dispute amicably wherever this can be done in accordance with the dignity and the interests of Germany, through the conclusion of our agreements with France. In addition to strengthening our alliances with the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the kingdom of Italy, my policy is directed toward the mainte[307]nance of friendly relationships with all powers on the basis of mutual respect and good-will.

I trust the healthy power of the German people, and, counting upon the support of a gracious God, I look out hopefully over the struggles of the day toward the future of the empire. Therefore, at the beginning of a new legislative session, I offer you, Honored Sirs, my greeting in the hope that your activities will be exerted for the benefit of the people and the country.


May 30, 1912

The indications of particular good-will which the Emperor had always exhibited for the Brandenburgers and the marks of special favor which he had seemed to accord to them have occasionally aroused a certain suspicion, not to say ill will, in the minds of some of his South German subjects. In his hereditary provinces, Brandenburg and Prussia, it will be noticed that the Emperor had always expressed himself most freely with regard to his personal pretensions that he ruled by divine right alone. The two speeches which have been most criticised in this respect are the ones delivered at Breslau (February 3, 1899) and Königsberg (August 25, 1910). They served, unfortunately, to accentuate the differences which existed between the subjects in various parts of the empire and to remind them that they had a Prussian Em[308]peror. If certain portions of his audiences here acquiesced in these pretensions of their hereditary ruler and were somewhat proud of the particular confidence he vouchsafed to them, critics, and even conservative critics, referred to these ideas of “Gottesgnadentum,” grace-of-Godism, with touches of what was at least irony. After the unfortunate crisis following the Daily Telegraph interview Chancellor von Bülow had felt constrained to request the Emperor “henceforward to observe, even in private interviews, that reserve which is indispensable both to the interests of a consistent policy and to the authority of the crown.” As we have seen, in spite of the Emperor’s seeming acceptance of this necessity, it had not modified to any particular extent the tenor of his speech at Königsberg in 1910. It may be that by this time (1912) he had taken the admonition to heart, for it will be noticed that, though we have the customary reference to Frederick of Hohenzollern and the glorification of his ancestors, and also the marks of special favor and trust in the Brandenburgers, we miss any mention of the theory of divine right.

La Fontaine has said that it is difficult to please every one and his father. The Emperor must have felt this when he learned that certain of his subjects, nevertheless, resented that closing part of his speech which would seem to imply that the Franco-Prussian War was a sort of family affair through which the grateful Brandenburgers decided to present the imperial crown to their beloved overlord. Through such an interpretation[309] the position and interests of Bavaria, for instance, became for Bavarians somewhat too incidental. If, then, foreign critics have drawn a distinction between Prussia and Germany, the distinction has, therefore, a certain warrant, since it seems to be made by the Emperor himself. The heir to the Bavarian crown took occasion to object in one of his speeches to the conception that the affiliated sovereigns are “vassals of the Emperor.” That he should have gone so far would indicate that, in his mind at least, there was a disposition to make them so. He was even more emphatic in a speech delivered in May, 1900, before the Association for the Furtherance of Inland Navigation in Bavaria. “I do not see,” he said, “why we, if we belong to the German Empire should not enjoy precisely the same rights and privileges as North Germany, for the German Empire was welded together just as much through Bavarian blood as through the blood of any other German stock; and for that reason we do not wish to be regarded as minor brothers, but as brothers with full rights and privileges.” So, too, it is said that the King of Würtemberg left the Emperor’s side in anger and withdrew from the army manœuvres in 1894. It will be plain to any one who reads the Emperor’s speeches that very few of them are made in South Germany. Münich, Leipzig, and Stuttgart have been visited by him less frequently than certain foreign capitals. This is due in part, no doubt, to the fact that the reigning sovereigns of these capitals do not wish to see a greater at their side. But it is likewise true that in most of these dis[310]tricts the Emperor’s reception at the hands of the populace would be far less warm than that accorded to him at Breslau and Berlin; for, if the Emperor is warranted in expecting a particular loyalty from his Prussians and Brandenburgers, so, too, are the hereditary rulers of Bavaria, Saxony, and Würtemberg warranted in expecting a particular recognition at home, which must necessarily be deducted from the possible tribute which can be paid the Emperor, who is likewise a rival King and King of a province which has not always enjoyed the favorable consideration of South Germans.

It was on this day, May 30, five hundred years before that the Burgrave Frederick VI of Hohenzollern, the later Elector Frederick I, entered the fortified place of Brandenburg, on the Havel. In commemoration of this fact, a fountain and an equestrian statue of the Elector by Professor Manzel were dedicated. The church of St. Catherine had likewise been restored and was rededicated on this day. After the unveiling, the Emperor proceeded to the old town hall, where he inscribed his name in the city’s Golden Book, and after he had accepted the drink of honor offered him by the burgomaster, he delivered the following address:

I am deeply grateful to the city of Brandenburg for having thought of inviting me to its celebration. It has been a celebration whose importance extends far beyond the walls of Brandenburg, and I rejoice that the Brandenburgers should have[311] wished to have their Elector and Margrave with them, just as it goes without saying that the Elector is pleased when he can tarry among his Brandenburgers. The changes of history which have swept over the German Fatherland have called forth and laid tasks upon many a dynasty, and finally it was the dynasty of my ancestors who first succeeded after many difficulties in laying the corner-stone for the great work and at last in building up the work itself—the establishment of German unity on a Brandenburger basis and under the leadership of Prussia. We must not forget that it must have been a difficult decision for the ruler of the land in those days and the later Elector to undertake the task of coming into this country and of bringing it back again to a flourishing condition. For he came from the sunny south, which had progressed in culture and whose knighthood at that time was also in its fullest flower of cultural development. We have already learned from reliable lips what a frightful situation existed at that time in the unhappy mark. And if he was successful in re-establishing order little by little and in sowing the seeds for new flowers, nevertheless the mark had to pass through many grievous storms and became the arena of foreign powers and foreign lords. But at last the Great Elector and the great King drove away the for[312]eigners once for all and won for the people of the mark and of Prussia the right to live for themselves without having to see the products of their industry and labor fall a prey to the caprices of strangers. And when at last, through the help of God, the Prussian edifice was completed and my grandfather, in the long period of peace, had sharpened the sword which he must needs have in order to achieve German union, then for a second time, on a grander scale, the same work was accomplished which had previously been accomplished for the mark. And he succeeded in finally forbidding the strangers to trample upon our fields and to destroy our labor for the mere sake of following their own interests. The German Empire and the German crown rest upon a Brandenburg basis and a Prussian foundation. On that account we wish on this day to remember the people of the mark and of Brandenburg and not least the Brandenburgers who in 1870 risked their lives and all that was near and dear to them in order to win the imperial crown for the old master. As long as a Hohenzollern lives and as long as there are Brandenburgers both of them will remember Constantine Alvensleben, Vionville, and the Third Corps.[48] This was the old Brandenburger loyalty[313] which had been preserved through all the centuries, and I hope that this loyalty may be the possession of the coming generations of the city of Brandenburg. And I drink this cup in the hope that this loyalty may never be extinguished.

[48] Constantine Alvensleben, commander of the Third (Brandenburg) Army Corps, played an important part in the battle of Vionville, on the 16th of August, 1870. He checked the French army operating from Metz and held it until the arrival of reinforcements.


Hamburg, June 18, 1912

As usual, the Emperor was present at the meeting of the North German Regatta Association. Since 1897 he had been absent but once. Certain references in his address here doubtless refer back to the outcome of events at Agadir. It is difficult to tell whether or not he is on the defensive. Whatever his qualities or defects, it cannot properly be said that he has often or indeed ever publicly weakened in a position which he had once taken. He has, however, occasionally shifted his ground. Criticism, instead of giving him pause, has usually had the effect of angering him and of immediately drawing his fire upon his critics. So, in regard to the criticism of his agrarian policy on the part of the Prussian land-owning nobility, he replied that “opposition on the part of the Prussian nobility is monstrous” [ein Unding]. As the opposition had been directed solely against certain policies and not against him personally, his statement implies that he expected the Prussian nobility to[314] support him in all of his positions. He expected personal loyalty. As some of his opponents were members of the Prussian Landtag, it is difficult to see what would become of the idea of representative government in case the representatives of the people waived their opinions and those of their constituents in his favor. Some of the sharpest criticism which the Emperor incurred was that which followed the incidents at Tangier in 1905 and at Agadir in 1911. In both cases what may be called the war party showed great resentment, and certain of the criticisms made by them seem to indicate that war, to them, was a consummation devoutly to be wished, and the failure to make war at these opportunities was looked upon as a defeat. The Emperor seems here to be insisting upon the fact that the flag has not been dishonored.

Your Magnificence will certainly allow me to thank you for the address, which glowed with flaming patriotism and which was delivered with such a sweep of oratory that, I am convinced, it carried away all those here assembled. We saw from the sketch which your Magnificence has given us how in all centuries the history of our empire and of our people, although in general attached to the Continent, nevertheless always stood in close relationship with the water and the sea and that it has always been more or less influenced by it. But as you have shown, we formerly[315] failed in gathering together our strength. The flourishing of the Hansa, interesting and beautiful, and for a time powerful as it was, had to pass away, because it lacked the support of the imperial power. Through the founding of the empire under my grandfather all things were changed, and now the German merchant can go his way peacefully, not under a foreign but under his own flag; he can exercise all his capacities and be sure that, when it is necessary, the protection of the empire will stand behind him. That is only possible when all our powers are united under our German flag. But, as you all know, gentlemen, the flag must wave in honor; and it dare not lightly spread its folds to the wind nor be lightly set up where we are not sure of being able to defend it. You will understand why I have acted with this reserve in extending the reach of the German flag where many perhaps would have desired and longed to see it. I have allowed myself to be guided by an old Hanseatic proverb which stands in significant letters over the town hall at Lübeck: “The little flag is easily tied to the staff, but it is difficult to haul it down with honor.” Now, gentlemen, I believe that I can say without fear of contradiction that up to the present no one has ever dared offer an indignity to our flag so long as I have been reigning. I will promise and hold to[316] it that wherever you go ahead there my flag shall follow you. That is true in great as in little things. Every man binds his flag to the staff in the morning and hopes to conquer. Not every one is successful. In spite of that, we rejoice that on this day of the Elbe regatta not only German but also many boats of related and friendly peoples are present and make the scene a picturesque one. Therefore we rejoice, and again I whole-heartedly express the hope that sailing and water sport on the Elbe and on the Baltic, on the inland lakes as on the sea, may grow and prosper. We, however, who have gathered here under the flag of Hamburg, on the beautiful ship of the Hamburg-American Line, raise our glasses and drink to the health of the city of Hamburg and all seamen here assembled. The city of Hamburg—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!


Bonn, October 17, 1913

Nineteen hundred and thirteen was a jubilee year in the history both of Germany and in the Emperor’s reign. In the first place, it was the one-hundredth anniversary of the famous battle of the nations at Leipzig, which marked the turning of the tide in the fortunes of Napoleon. On innumerable occasions the Emperor, in the[317] speeches already printed, has referred to this crisis in the affairs of Germany; he was, curiously enough, not to make the address on this famous occasion, for the celebration was to take place at Leipzig and the addresses were made by Doctor Clemens and by the King of Saxony. The journals noted that during the address of Doctor Clemens the Emperor, who was present, showed no enthusiasm and looked bored. The joyous occasion had been clouded by the unfortunate accident to the naval Zeppelin L-2 on the previous day. As the Emperor had succeeded to the throne on the fifteenth of June, 1888, the year marked also the completion of twenty-five years of his reign, and the week of June 15 had been one of continual celebration and many speeches. He issued innumerable pardons and conferred many titles and decorations, among them the title of general on his Chancellor, Von Bethmann-Hollweg. His many speeches were, however, for the most part, merely acceptances of congratulations and, aside from the renewed expression of his hope to maintain peace, are not particularly significant to the student. The sense of increased tension is evident everywhere and seems to have reacted upon him, as he does not express himself with his former enthusiasm. He repeats his old themes, the necessity of disregarding party divisions and in particular the need of holding fast to religious ideals and of moral regeneration.

On the seventeenth of October, 1913, on the eve of the great national celebration, the naval Zeppelin L-2, shortly after starting on a flight from[318] Johannisthal to Hamburg, met with a most distressing accident. An explosion occurred, the balloon caught fire and burst, and the gondola fell with its crew. The twenty-seven officers and men were killed. From Bonn the Emperor issued the following statement. The text, as well as that of the speech of June 23, 1914, is taken from the Berliner Tageblatt.

Again fate has laid a heavy hand upon my navy. The dirigible L-2 was destroyed by an explosion, and nearly thirty brave men, among them many of the ablest in developing this new species of warcraft, lost their lives. Their death in the service of the Fatherland will be honorably remembered by me and the entire German people. Our very deepest sympathy goes out to their relatives. But grief over what has happened will only spur us on to renewed efforts to develop this so important aerial weapon into a reliable engine of war.

William, I. R.


Hamburg, June 23, 1914

The following speech is, we believe, the last one delivered by the Emperor before the murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand (June 28), which precipitated the war. True to his custom, the Emperor is again at Hamburg at the regatta which[319] usually marks the beginning of his summer holiday. This year his yacht Meteor was to win the Hamburg prize. The banquet at which he ordinarily delivered his address was to be held on board the Victoria Luise, and the president of the association, Doctor Schröder, who made the address preceding the Emperor’s, alluded to the disaster to the Z-1 and the destruction of that boat off Heligoland. He followed it with a discussion of Germany’s progress in naval and aerial development. The Emperor answers with his usual compliments to Hamburg. His naval policy and his policy of expansion had profited the seaport towns particularly, and he was always a welcome guest. In the year of his jubilee, 1913, the Hamburg-American Line had done him the honor to name one of their boats the Imperator, and this year they had launched the great thirty-thousand-ton Bismarck. If his speech on this occasion shows nothing particularly new, one thing at least is interesting from the change which he introduces in Bismarck’s famous statement. The Emperor himself has quoted it previously (April 24, 1901): “We Germans fear God, nothing else in the world.” Here it seems to have in it a little more of defiance and possibly of challenge: “We Germans fear God and absolutely nobody and nothing else in the world.”

May your Magnificence allow me to express my thanks for your friendly words and for the picture of the past progress of important phases of[320] our national development! I would like to include in my expression of thanks a heartfelt appreciation of the delightful reception which this year, as in other years, was accorded me by the population of the city of Hamburg. It was noticeable in the oldest citizen and in the youngest child. I have been able to see how the hearty and close relationship between Hamburg citizens and myself has gradually become traditional, for it passes on from generation to generation. Your Magnificence, has spoken of the sources which provide us with the material for the Fatherland’s activity on the seas and has cited some brilliant examples in this line. Although I, too, have noted with pleasure how sport has developed greatly, I would, nevertheless, like to call attention to the fact that in one respect I believe our nation is following the right path. We are right in attempting to bring the mass to a higher level of development rather than to scoop out isolated great performances from a generally lowered average. The water sports which we foster and which have again brought us together here, have also seen a new yacht appear under my flag, and it has been successful in winning the Hamburg state prize, for which honor I am joyously grateful. The yacht is the creation of a German Hanseatic shipbuilder and was built by experienced hands[321] at the well-known wharves of Mr. Krupp, on the water-front. This, too, is an indication of the development of our technical skill, which was possible only in the long period of peace which was granted us after the stirring years of military prowess. It is a symbol of peace which the merchant, the banker, the ship-owner needs in order to develop, and which they have used each in his own calling to such magnificent effect. I am sure I represent the feelings of all those assembled here on this beautiful and well-known ship of the Hamburg-American Line when I thank that line particularly for the great day they recently prepared for us. As another symbol of the long period of peace, a few days ago the Bismarck left its stocks. It is the greatest vessel now afloat. We all of us know very well that this was no ordinary launching, both because of the size of the ship and because of the impression and attitude of the spectators. The Hamburg-American Line, through the building of this vessel, gave us the occasion for a great national festival at the moment when the thirty thousand tons glided down into the water. It was as if all the dross had been taken out of the lives of those of us who were present, and even from the lives of all other Germans, as we may judge from the expressions which come to us from all parts of the country. Envy, pettiness, daily conflicts dis[322]appeared. All hearts beat higher and remembered the great time and the great men who wrought in it and thought of the Great Emperor and of his Iron Chancellor. It is for us to administer further the legacy that has come down to us. Just as in our individual efforts and in our sports we summon up and exert all our powers to reach our goal, so too we must do the same for our Fatherland. We must be in a position to take to heart and to exemplify practically one of the finest utterances coined by the Iron Chancellor. We must so live and act that we shall at all times say with him: “We Germans fear God and absolutely nobody and nothing else in the world.” With this feeling I raise my glass and ask you to drink with me to the city of Hamburg, the Regatta Association, and the Hamburg-American Line—Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!



As there is no official edition of the Emperor’s recent addresses, the following five speeches and decrees are taken from the Frankfurter Zeitung.


Berlin, July 31, 1914

On the 31st of July the Emperor made the following address from the balcony of the Royal Palace in Berlin:

A grievous situation has come upon Germany. Envious nations on all sides are forcing us to justified defense. They are forcing the sword into my hand. If my attempts are not successful in bringing our opponents to their senses and in keeping peace at the eleventh hour, I hope that with God’s help we may so use the sword that we may be able to sheathe it again with honor. Enormous sacrifices in life and property would be demanded from the German people by a war; but we would show the enemy what it means to[324] attack Germany. And now I bid you go to the church, bow down before God and ask His help for our brave army.


Berlin, August 1, 1914

After the order of mobilization, the Emperor made the following brief speech from the window of the Royal Palace:

If we must have war, all parties cease. We are only German brothers. In times of peace this or that party has attacked me; I forgive them now with all my heart. If our neighbors are not satisfied to leave us in peace, then we hope and pray that our good German sword will come out of the struggle victorious.


Berlin, August 4, 1914

The Emperor opened the special session of the Reichstag with the following address:

Honored Gentlemen:

At a time big with consequences I have assembled the elected representatives of the German people about me. For nearly half a century we have been allowed to follow the ways of peace. The attempts to attribute to Germany warlike in[325]tentions and to hedge in her position in the world have often sorely tried the patience of my people. Undeterred, my government has pursued the development of our moral, spiritual, and economic strength as its highest aim, with all frankness, even under provocative circumstances! The world has been witness that during the last years, under all pressure and confusion, we have stood in the first rank in saving the nations of Europe from a war between the great powers. The most serious dangers to which the events in the Balkans had given rise seemed to have been overcome—then suddenly an abyss was opened through the murder of my friend the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. My lofty ally, the Emperor and King Franz Joseph, was forced to take up arms to defend the security of his empire against dangerous machinations from a neighboring state. The Russian empire stepped in the way of the allied monarchy following out her just interests. Not only our duty as ally calls us to the side of Austria-Hungary, but it is our great task to protect our own position and the old community of culture between the two empires against the attack of hostile forces. With a heavy heart I have had to mobilize the army against a neighbor with whom it had fought side by side on many a battle-field. With unfeigned sorrow I saw broken a friendship which had[326] been faithfully preserved by Germany. The imperial Russian Government, yielding to the pressure of an insatiable nationalism, has taken sides for a state which through its sanctioning of criminal attacks has brought about the evils of this war. That France, too, should have taken sides with our enemy could not surprise us; too often have our attempts to come to friendlier relationships with the French Republic failed because of her old hopes and old resentments.

Honored Gentlemen, what human insight and power could do to equip a people for these uttermost decisions has been done with your patriotic assistance. The hostility which has been making itself felt in the east and in the west for a long time past has now broken out in bright flame. The present situation is not the result of passing conflicts of interests or of diplomatic conjunctions; it is the result of an ill will which has been active for many years against the power and the prosperity of the German Empire.

No lust of conquest drives us on; we are inspired by the unalterable will to protect the place in which God has set us for ourselves and all coming generations. From the documents which have been submitted to you, you will see how my government and especially my Chancellor have endeavored even to the last moment to stave off[327] the inevitable. In a defensive war that has been forced upon us, with a clear conscience and a clean hand we take up the sword. I issue my call to the peoples and stocks of the German Empire, that with their united strength they may stand like brothers with our allies in order to defend what we have created through the works of peace. Following the example of our fathers, staunch and true, earnest and knightly, humble before God, but with the joy of battle in the face of the enemy, we trust in the Almighty to strengthen our defense and guide us to good issue. Honored Gentlemen, the German people gathered about their princes and leaders are to-day looking to you. Come to your decisions quickly and unanimously. Such is my most earnest wish.


Berlin, August 6, 1914

On this date the following statement was issued to the army and navy:

After forty-three years of peace, I call all the available forces to arms. We must defend our most sacred possessions, the Fatherland, and our own hearths, against ruthless attack. Enemies round about us! That is the characteristic of the situation. We must expect a great conflict and to make great sacrifices. I have confidence that[328] the old warlike spirit still lives in the German people, that powerful warlike spirit which attacks the enemy wherever found and at whatever cost and which has always been the fear and terror of our enemies. I have confidence in you, you German soldiers. In every one of you there lives the eager, unconquerable will to triumph. Every one of you knows how to die like a hero if need be. Think of our great and glorious past. Remember that you are Germans. God help us.

(Signed) William, I. R.

Berlin, August 6, 1914.


Berlin, August 6, 1914

The following proclamation was issued on the evening of this date:

To the German People:

Since the founding of the empire, for forty-three years it has been the earnest aim of my ancestors and myself to maintain peace with the world and to further our powerful advance in peace. But our opponents envy us the fruit of our labors. In the consciousness of our responsibility and our strength, we must endure overt and covert hostility from east and west and from across the sea. But now they wish to humble us. They demand that[329] with folded arms we should watch our enemies prepare themselves for an underhand attack. They do not wish to allow us in loyal determination to stand by our ally, who is fighting for his position as a great power and with whose humiliation our own power and honor will also be lost. So the sword must decide! The enemy surprises us while we are entirely at peace. Therefore, to arms! Any wavering, any hesitation would be treachery to the Fatherland. We must fight for the existence or non-existence of our empire, which our fathers lately founded for themselves; for the existence or non-existence of German power and German life. We shall fight to the last breath of man and horse, and we shall continue this conflict against a world of enemies. Germany has never yet been conquered as long as she was united. Go forward with God, who will be with us as He was with our fathers.

(Signed) William, I. R.

Berlin, August 6, 1914.

Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious printer errors have been fixed.

Variations in spelling have been retained except in clear cases of typographical error.

Page xiv - Tangiers changed to Tangier

Page 167 - unforgetable changed to unforgettably

Illustrations have been moved to the beginning of the respective chapter.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The German Emperor as Shown in his
Public Utterances, by Christian Gauss


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