among themselves, but what benefit did the masses derive from the bloody campaigns of the republic? The distribution of the annone, 280 grammes of bread each a day, given to 200,000 persons out of the 1,500,000 inhabitants of the Eternal City! Surely the Romans would have gained a great deal more by working themselves than by pillaging other nations!
Things are exactly the same now. In 1871 twenty-eight persons received from the Emperor William donations forming a total of $3,000,000. But what benefit did the German people derive from the conquest of Alsace-Lorraine? None. Dividing the 3,600,000 acres of that province among the 6,400,000 families that were living in Germany at the time of the Treaty of Frankfort would make two and a half acres each. This is not opulence. Of the 5,000,000,000 of francs extorted from France as damage for the expenses of the war there remained 3,896,250,000 francs, which, divided among 6,400,000 families, represent a gain of 609 francs, or about $121.80 per family—hardly enough to live scantily upon for four months; and this was the most lucrative war of which history makes mention! Consider, further, at what amount of sacrifice these $121.80 have been gained. In 1870 the military expenses of the North German Confederation and the four southern states amounted to 349,000,000 francs a year. They now exceed 795,000,000, and in another year (from 1894) will exceed 870,000,000. Here, then, is an increase of 521,000,000 francs, or a charge of 60 francs per family. As 609 francs, even at five per cent, will only return 30 francs, we have here a clear loss of 30 francs (or $6) a family per year. It thus appears that the conquest of Alsace-Lorraine would have been a bad speculation, even if the French indemnity had been distributed in equal parts among all the German families. But, in fact, it has not been so; so that the 60 francs of supplementary expenditure are paid without any compensation.
It might be said that the conquest of Alsace-Lorraine was not dictated solely by sordid economical considerations. Other interests, purer and more elevated, stir the hearts of modern nations. But we ask, Is it grand, noble, and generous to hold unwilling populations under the yoke? On the contrary, it is most base, vile, and degrading. It is difficult to comprehend how brutal conquest can still arouse enthusiasm. Ancient survivals and routines must for a time have suppressed all our reflective faculties.
Suppose, again, 3,000,000 German soldiers should penetrate into Russia and should gain a complete victory: how would they apportion the territory? The parts here would indeed be larger—Russia contains 5,471,500,000 acres. But a third of this territory, at least, is desert; subtracting this, there remain about 3,600,000,000