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The New Europe/Volume 1/The Literature of Pangermanism (I)

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The Literature of Pangermanism (I)


In my former article on "Pangermanism and the Eastern Question" I confined myself to an uncontroversial statement of the chief aims of the Pangerman movement and of the main lines of its historical development. A more complete treatment of the subject, however, would demand some reference to the principal writers and thinkers who have contributed to the formation and growth of that movement.

The literature of Pangerrnanism is one of enormous proportions. It treats of the past history and the future reorganisation of the whole world; it is tantamount to a philosophy of history and politics, a theory of nations and states, a treatise on the significance and value of man's whole evolution. When the range is so vast and all-embracing, it is not surprising to find that among the chief exponents of Pangermanism there are differences of opinion, not merely upon the details, but also upon the broad principles of policy. In my former article these differences of opinion were necessarily passed over, and only the main substance of the question was retained. The present article will be in the nature of a supplement or a bibliographical index, but only those books will be mentioned which are readily accessible to the general reader.

A general review of the doctrines laid down by the chief leaders of Pangermanism is given in Professor Charles Andler's "Les Origines du Pangermanisme (1800–1888)" and "Le Pangermanisme Continental sous Guillaume II (1888–1914)," 2nd edition, 1915. The Pangermans dealt with include Dietrich von Bülow (1757–1807), Ernst-Moritz Arndt (1769–1860), Friedrich-Ludwig Jahn (1778–1852), Friedrich List (1789–1846), Hellmuth von Moltke, Bismarck, Heinrich von Treitschke (1834–1896), Paul de Lagarde (1827–1891), Constantin Frantz (1817–1891), and a number of still living writers. M. Andler's method is to give a short account of each author's life and work, and then to expound his leading ideas in detail.

M. Andler correctly begins with the history of Pangermanism in the 18th century. It is noteworthy, however, that he fails to mention many of the recognised authorities; the historian, Justus Moser, for instance, and the philosophers Herder, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Krause, Schopenhauer, and, more recently, von Hartman and Nietzsche. Richard Wagner and his followers (Herr Houston Chamberlain among them) are also omitted, although their influence in a Pangermanic direction was very strong. It is curious, too, that even in dealing with German philosophy, the author makes no mention of the nationalist school, which represents a considerable body of German philosophic thought. Nor do we find any representatives from the ranks of the more modern nationalists and political economists. The author's range will, no doubt, be extended in the further volumes of this useful series. He will then be able to include such military writers as Klein, Frobenius, and von Bernhardi, and perhaps there will he a chapter devoted to the Pangerman literature of the war.

It must be home in mind that the authors selected by Professor Andler have not all exerted the same degree of influence upon German thought; their reputation as political, philosophic or scientific authorities varies very greatly. The most important among them are Treitschke and Lagarde, and, to my mind, Lagarde is the more extreme of the two, and does not yield to Treitschke in influence. He was a Professor of Theology and had an established reputation as an Armenian scholar. His conception of a complete scheme of national reform, based upon a radical change in the educational system, had for its object the regeneration of the German national church. A ruthless critic of the established church, so dead and so ineffectual, he went on to attack the very idea of Protestantism itself, and especially the Pauline theology, and he showed some sympathy, or at least an understanding of Catholicism. Lagarde's style is full of pathos; but though rugged and even harsh it often reads like a poem in prose. His "Deutsche Schriften," a collection of essays, interpret Pangermanism not only as a political doctrine but as a whole Weltauschauung. It may be mentioned that Lagarde's real name was Paul Anton Bötticher, which he altered into Paul de Lagarde, in view of his descent from a French aristocrat.

Treitschke's views were no less pronounced than those of Lagarde, but his thinking is more suggestive of the German professor, and his writings are less sensational. His ideas are conveyed by means of a systematic interpretation of German history and politics, and they may be described as the codex of Prussianism. His "German History" includes within its scope a criticism of literature and philosophy, art and science, and while treating the whole field of public life from the strictly Prussian point of view, emphasises the arguments for the complete Prussianisation of Germany.[1]

Treitschke's interpretation of German history is not to be summarily dismissed as a mere piece of special pleading. The whole course of German history does indeed reveal a marked Pangerman trend, as is well illustrated in Mr. Joseph McCabe's concise study, "The Evolution of Imperialism in German Literature," which appeared in "The Nineteenth Century" for June 1915. It would be no less true to say that the whole conception of geography in Germany is based upon the question of Germany's relationship to the world. A typical school devoted to the study of this Pangerman type of geography is that of C. Ritter, whose propaganda also embraces the study of ethnology, anthropology, and the kindred sciences.

In the same category with Lagarde and Treitschke must be mentioned the name of Constantin Frantz, although the latter was opposed to Bismarck, and, indeed, denounced Bismarckisrn as Machiavellianism. Frantz belonged to the philosophical school of Schelling. Although his Pangerman doctrines failed to exercise a very far-reaching influence, they found ready devotees in the younger literary circles, and especially among the Wagnerians. The Pangerman policy which he advocated consisted in establishing a federation of three equal groups—Austria, Prussia, and the smaller States welded together into a Central European Empire. It is noteworthy that the latest phase of the war has induced the well-known educationalist, Professor Fr. W. Foerster, of Munich, to revert to that policy.

Eckhardt may be mentioned as an exponent of the school of Baltic Germans, who devoted themselves to agitation against Russia. He had an extensive knowledge of Russian affairs and was in close touch with Russian opposition circles and subversive societies. But although his persistent campaign of enlightening public opinion on the Russian danger—extending, as it did, over the years 1870–1900—brought him many eager readers, his writings cannot be said to have created or merited serious attention. His propaganda is now carried on by Theodor Schiemann, Professor of History at Berlin University, whose historical works, including his editions of Russian political and literary writers, have a considerable value in spite of their propagandist trend. During the war he has published numerous articles and pamphlets of distinctly inferior quality. In Berlin he has the reputation of being the Kaiser's confidant.

Paul Dehn is worthy of attention as one of the younger Pangermans, who, in his two works, "Deutschland und Orient" (1884) and "Deutschland nach Osten" (1886–1890), directs the attention of his German public towards the importance of the Near East, while Hasse, Professor at Leipzig University till his death in 1913, in his "Deutsche Politik" (1907), undertakes a thorough and detailed investigation into the whole Pangerman scheme. In dealing with "real-political" arguments he pays especial attention to problems of over-population and emigration. Friedrich Lange, as revealed in his book "Reines Deutschtum" (Pure Germanism, 4th ed., 1904), is also a good specimen of the average Pangerman propagandist. He may be described as an adjutant on the staff of the great Pangerman army. It is the steady work of such men that contributes more than anything else to the volume and strength of the movement

  1. Among English books on Treitschke may be mentioned: (1) Treitschke; His Life and Work (1914), which contains his biography by Hausrath, and some of his essays; (2) Germany, France, Russia, and Islam (1915); (3) History of Germany during the Nineteenth Century, translated by E. and C. Paul (1916); (4) Politics, translated by Blanche Dugdale and Torben de Bille, with an introduction by the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour (1916); and (5) The Political Thoughts of H. v. Treitschke, by H. W. C. Davis (1914). But it is highly significant that Treitschke was hardly "discovered" in England till the war had actually broken out.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1937, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.