Germany: a Self-Portrait: A Collection of German Writings from 1914 to 1943

By Harlan R. Crippen | Go to book overview
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THE WAY OF THE NEW GERMANY

an address delivered on 29 June 1927 in the hall of the Oslo University on the invitation of the Storthing Nobel Committee

IN THE COURSE of the past few years I have had, at times, to fight a hard battle on behalf of German foreign policy. For that reason I am perhaps the man best fitted to answer the question that is so frequently put regarding the mental attitude of present-day Germany.

In their estimation of this mental attitude, people abroad are variously inclined to be appreciative, skeptical, critical, or hostile. Let me endeavor, so far as is possible in view of the inadequate historical perspective afforded by the short space of time that has elapsed since the war, to reply to those who ask what are the leading spiritual and political tendencies in this, the new Germany.

A description of the old pre-war Germany is an essential preliminary to any such attempt. That old Germany, too, suffered as the result of superficial judgment that did not always know how to distinguish between appearance and reality. Doubtless that old Germany bore the stamp of Frederic William I, the stamp of tutelage. But that era of tutelage was inspired by an iron sense of duty and loyalty to the State and the People. It had the unpolished exterior of an administrative machine that was decried abroad as bureaucracy, yet was actuated by not one conception of honor: submission to the State.

It had failed to stem the onrushing tide of Socialistic ideas, for its bourgeoisie had discovered no conquering idea with which it could hope to resist that onslaught. But it was a land of progress in the field of social politics; it was much less narrow, less under the influence of the Manchester school, than other states provided with a different kind of constitution. It was the land of barracks, of universal compulsory military service, of sympathy with things military; but it was also the land of technical achievements, of applied chemistry, of modern research. In that land old things and new struggled to take form. He who would write its history must see to

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