The Prussian Spirit: A Survey of German Literature and Politics, 1914-1940

The Prussian Spirit: A Survey of German Literature and Politics, 1914-1940

The Prussian Spirit: A Survey of German Literature and Politics, 1914-1940

The Prussian Spirit: A Survey of German Literature and Politics, 1914-1940

Excerpt

One of the best ways of answering the familiar questions: 'What are we fighting for?' and 'What are our war aims?' is to answer the less frequent question: 'What are we fighting against?'

This book is an inquiry into the psychology of the German people, their habits of mind, the subject-matter of their thoughts and feelings, their spiritual background and tradition, as reflected and expressed in recent German literature. It approaches the difficult and complex problem of present-day Germany from the standpoint of Prussia and the Prussian spirit; and its main thesis is that Hitlerism is fundamentally a continuation of Prussianism. Without the 'Prussianization' of Germany, a process which became definite and decisive in 1871 and was much accelerated by the Great War, there would be no National Socialism; without Frederick the Great, Bismarck, Moltke, Hindenburg, and the other great Prussians there would be no Hitler. At the same time it must be stressed that Hitlerism is for the most part Prussianism of the very worst kind, so much so that it may even be regarded as a perversion of Prussianism.

Many books have been written about Hitler and National Socialism. Here is an attempt to go behind Hitler, and to get at the German people, or at any rate at a very characteristic type and a large and dominating section of the German people, namely, the Prussians; and it attempts to explain why the Prussians accepted so blithely and so tragically such an unworthy leader, and why most of them have continued to accept him for . . .

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