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

 

The Literature of Pangermanism (II)

 

Count Reventlow is well known in this country as the leader of the anti-English section of Pangermans. In spite of the limitations necessarily imposed upon the authority of all men who are dominated by a single foxed idea, his influence has been very great. Although his "History of German Foreign Policy" ("Deutschlands Auswärtige Politik," 1888–1914," 4th edition 1916) contains many obviously faulty arguments, the author is a political factor of acknowledged importance. But French and English critics are too inclined to imagine that the detection and exposure of mistakes and fallacies of which Count Reventlow has been guilty constitute a direct blow at Pangermanism itself. They do not realise that Pangermanism is not only a doctrine but a political aspiration, which derives its strength from an imaginative ambition and not from the strict logic of facts. Curiously enough Professor Andler does not mention Reventlow's most characteristic book, "Der Vampyr des Festlandes" (The Vampire of the Continent) (2nd edition 1915), which is the concentrated essence of Prussian hatred of Great Britain. Reventlow is one of the warmest supporters of the Kaiser's naval policy, not because he is a blind follower of the Kaiser (in his book "Kaiser Wilhelm II. und die Byzantiner," 11th ed., 1914, he is independent enough to criticise the Court) but because he hates England.

Paul Rohrbach, on the other hand, is to a certain extent Anglophil, or at least not Anglophobe. He would have liked to realise the Pangerman plans in Asia and Africa without an open fight with England. He may be classified as the leader of the younger generation of Pangermans. His work is devoted to a consideration of all the leading questions of the day, and his ambition is to compile a complete philosophical synthesis out of his various articles and essays. Chief among his lately published works are "Die Geschichte der Menschheit" (The History of Mankind) (1914), and "Der Deutsche Gedanke in der Welt" (The German Idea in the World) (1912), while on the subject of the war he has written "Der Krieg und die deutsche Politik" (The War and German Policy) (1915), and "Weltpolitisches Wanderbuch" (1916). Rohrbach is the editor of several Pangerman weekly papers, e.g., Das grössere Deutschland (Greater Germany).

Albert Wirth is a fair specimen of the Pangerman economist. A follower of List (who is not to be confused with Franz von Liszt, at present Professor of International Law in Berlin), he emphasises in his books "Der Gang der Weltgeschichte" (The Course of World-History) (1913), "Türkei, Oesterreich. Deutschland" (1912), and "Orient and Weltpolitik," the economic importance for Germany of the Near and Farther East.

Maximilian Harden may be described as a kaleidoscope of public men, among whom Bismarck shines out predominantly. In his paper Die Zukunft one finds articles that are from time to time Russophil, Francophil, and sometimes even Anglophil; these alternate with fierce diatribes, now against Russia, now France, now England. There is no sort of balance in Harden's views, but by very reason of his oscillations around Bismarck, and his constant change of ground, he may be taken as a representative exponent of Pangermanism. It must be borne in mind that the Pangermans are politicians who in many questions of policy and expediency are still feeling their way and making experiments. This indecision is well illustrated by their behaviour during the present war. No sooner did they realise that the crushing and decisive victory which they had expected was by no means certain, than they changed the policy which was based upon that victory, without, however, modifying their ultimate object. They are now turning their attention to the creation of temporary expedients, which will meet the new situation, but which will not preclude the ultimate attainment of their Pangerman project. Concessions and compromises are proposed, whose real object is to throw dust in the eyes of their enemies. Of such a nature are the many offers that have lately been made to the Slavs—to the Poles, Czechs and Southern Slavs, and notably to the Russians themselves. In this connection, Koehler's book, "Der Neue Dreibund" (The New Triple Alliance) (1915), was mentioned in my former article. Another attempt of the same sort may be noticed in Dr. K. Noetzel's book "Der Entlarvte Panslavismus und die Grosse Ausschnung der Slaven und Germanen" (Panslavism Unmasked and the Great Reconciliation of Slavs and Germans) (1915).

A very good companion volume to Professor Andler's collection is M. André Chéradame's "Le Plan Pangermaniste Démasqué: Le redoutable piége berlinois de la 'partie nulle'" (Paris, 1916).[1]

The author is one of the few Western political thinkers who has watched and written about the Pangerman movement incessantly. His well-known views on the Austrian question, which were first outlined in "L'Europe et la question d'Autriche au seuil du vingtième siècle" (1901), are, in his new book, further developed in the light of the present war. He is chiefly concerned to prove that Austria-Hungary, by reason of her place in the Pangerman scheme, constitutes one of the fundamental problems of the war. He gives a detailed analysis of the actual Pangerman scheme, which, as outlined by Tannenberg in 1911, aims at the formation under German hegemony of a Central European State, comprising 204 million inhabitants, of whom only 77 millions are German. He then goes on to show that the absorption and control of the Dual Monarchy is one of the first essentials for the success of that project. The true significance of Austria in her relationship to Germany has been woefully misunderstood both in France and in England. M. Chéradame gives a particularly interesting account of the way in which Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest have deluded Western Europe as to their real intentions, and have thus prepared the way for the present final bid for Pangermanism, which, he believes, has been definitely engineered by the Kaiser himself. Finally, the author sounds a grave note of warning against the danger of German peace talk. Germany, he says, may well be ready to acquiesce in a "drawn game," which in the words of the sub-title to the book constitutes a "formidable trap." It would mean, indeed, a complete victory for the German cause. If Austria-Hungary and Turkey were now to be left intact, the Central Europe of Tannenberg would be an accomplished fact, and the realisation of the full programme of "Berlin-Bagdad" would be merely a question of time. Moreover, even the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine by France would in that case mean nothing more than a temporary and precarious gain, and the Allies would be unable to redeem their promise of restoring Serbia to her birthright.

The coming settlement must, therefore, rest fundamentally upon the rights of nationality, and the first step in that direction must be the dismemberment of the heterogeneous conglomeration of nations which we call Austria. Among the liberated States—the embryo, as he calls them, of the United States of Europe—M. Chéradame assigns a position of supreme importance to Bohemia, the buffer State between Germany and Austria. He speaks very highly of M. Briand's statesmanship, which led him, before any other Allied statesman, to grasp the real significance of Bohemia in its relationship to Pangermanism and to the whole of Europe.

 

 
  1. An English translation, with a preface by Lord Cromer, is about to be published by Mr. John Murray.
 

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


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