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Bernhard vom Brocke, "'Scholarship and Militarism': The Appeal of 93 'to the Civilized World!'" (October 4, 1914)

The great majority of Germany’s leading writers, composers, and academic scholars passionately supported the war effort, which they portrayed as the defense of German culture. Manifestos that invoked German cultural superiority in order to justify the country’s cause, including the pursuit of expansive war aims, were signed by many of Germany’s leading intellectuals. This public appeal, written by Ulrich von Wilamowitz (1848-1931) and signed by about 100 of Germany’s leading artists and intellectuals, defiantly dismissed accusations of German barbarism in occupied Belgium. These cultural figures were prominent fixtures in the campaign to mobilize morale on the home front.

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To the Civilized World

An Appeal.

We have received the following appeal for publication.

As representatives of German scholarship and art, we hereby protest to the entire civilized world against the lies and calumnies with which our enemies are trying to stain the honor of Germany in the grave struggle for existence that has been forced upon the country. The firm voice of events has demonstrated how fanciful the German defeats are that have been fabricated for general circulation. Hence our enemies are working all the more fervently with their misrepresentations and calumnies.

It is not true that Germany is guilty of causing this war. Neither the people, nor the government, nor the Kaiser wanted it. The German side did its utmost to prevent it. Documentary evidence of this truth is available for the world to see. During the twenty-six years of his reign, Wilhelm II has often enough shown himself to be the protector of peace, and even our opponents have often enough acknowledged this fact. Indeed, this very Kaiser, whom they now dare call an Attila, has been ridiculed by them for years, because of his steadfast efforts to maintain peace. Only when the great force that has long lurked about us attacked our people from three sides, only then did we rise up as one man.

It is not true that we maliciously violated Belgian neutrality. France and England were demonstrably determined to violate it. Belgium was demonstrably in agreement with them. It would have been suicide on our part not to anticipate their move.

It is not true that the life and property of a single Belgian citizen have been infringed upon by our soldiers, unless the most desperate self-defense made it necessary. For again and again, notwithstanding repeated warnings, the Belgian population shot at our troops from ambush, mutilated the wounded, and murdered doctors while they were performing their healing work. One can falsify matters no more basely than to remain silent about the crimes of these assassins, to turn the punishments that they have justly suffered into crimes committed by Germans.

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