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The Nationalists Mobilize on Behalf of the Army: An Appeal by the German Army League (February 1912)

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In view of such facts, to bury one’s head in the sand would be to commit a sin against the nation. It is a national duty to educate the German people in these matters, just as the Naval League once successfully campaigned on behalf of the navy. The German Army League is dedicating itself to this very task. It has a duty to point out to the nation that, even in peacetime, it must make sacrifices to strengthen its army and to keep it in top form in terms of size, organization, and tactics. The league must call attention to the fact that the financial burden imposed on Germany by the maintenance of its armed forces is less than the burden in other large states, and that complaints about oppressive taxes, partially the doing of party politics, are unfounded in light of our growing prosperity. Germany’s national income today already surpasses that of France, and it is growing more rapidly, too. Aside from causing inexpressible misery and hardship, a lost war would cost huge sums, and the interest payments on these sums alone would be equal to our entire annual army budget.

At the moment, the German Army League believes its primary task lies in supporting the government in its efforts to educate the public on the urgent necessity of the upcoming military bill. On top of this, the league wants to strengthen the conviction that defense issues have nothing to do with party politics—a self-evident truth in other countries. This goal was kept in mind when the German Army League’s commission was formed. By and large, these are the salient points that have made it necessary—in the interests of both the army and the Fatherland—to establish a German Army League as an organization that is and will remain independent in every way and that includes all groups and classes of our nation, regardless of party affiliation and denomination. But the German Army League can only perform its vital tasks and achieve its important goals if its members have the drive, zeal, and selflessness needed to rouse and admonish the nation. This will ensure that it has a powerful effect on the public, for the purpose of protecting the Fatherland and keeping our enemies in check!

Source: „Aufruf des Deutschen Wehrvereins“ [“An Appeal by the German Army League”], Hamburger Nachrichten, No. 84 (February 20, 1912).

Original German text reprinted in Volker R. Berghahn and Wilhelm Deist, Rüstung im Zeichen der wilhelminischen Weltpolitik: Grundlegende Dokumente [Armament within the Context of Wilhelmine Global Politics: Key Documents 1890-1914]. Dusseldorf, 1988, pp. 231-33.

Translation: Adam Blauhut

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