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Parliament Debates the Zabern Affair (1913)

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These distinctions between fellow citizens, gentlemen, are simply in our German blood, and that is why they should not be taken too seriously.

But, gentlemen, be that as it may, the Alsatians felt genuinely insulted by the use of the word. Yet in no way does that provide any justification for the fact that, in the aftermath, officers and troops were actually publicly insulted and mocked.

(Hear, hear! right. – Interjections from the Social Democrats.)

[ . . . ] On the other hand, the military authority will consistently and rightfully advocate the position that it cannot accept the insults hurled upon it,

(Bravo! from the right)

and that it cannot do so especially in this case, which was not a single, isolated insult, but, according to what I have told you, a whole series of successive insults.

(Interruption from the left: Continuing provocation of the people!)

Whether violations of criminal laws occurred, whether civil compensation claims can be asserted, this is something the judge must decide. In any case, though, I ask the gentlemen not to forget, even in this serious and in many respects very sad case, that the military has the right to protect itself against direct attacks.

(Shout from the Social Democrats: Children attacked!)

And it has not only the right; it also has the duty to do so.

(Commotion among the Social Democrats.)

Otherwise no army in the world can survive.

(Very true! from the right)

The uniform must be respected under all circumstances.

(Lively approval from the right. – Shouts from the Social Democrats. – Persistent, loud commotion.)

[ . . . ]

Source: Stenographische Berichte über die Verhandlungen des Reichstags [Stenographic Reports on Reichstag Proceedings]. XIII. Legislaturperiode. I. Session 1913. Stenographic reports, vol. 291 (Berlin, 1914), pp. 6155-6157.

Original German text reprinted in Rüdiger vom Bruch and Björn Hofmeister, eds., Kaiserreich und Erster Weltkrieg 1871-1918 [Wilhelmine Germany and the First World War, 1871-1918]. Deutsche Geschichte in Quellen und Darstellung, edited by Rainer A. Müller, vol. 8. Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 2000, pp. 316-19.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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