The Federal Republic of Germany today is a far cry from the proud nation of the past. It is no exaggeration to say that no republic has ever done well in Germany. Even now, the scars remain from the division of West Germany and East Germany and ugly memories still linger from World War II and probably always will so long as those who have made an industry out of exploitation by guilt remain unopposed. That is not to say, of course, that the past should be forgotten. Far from it. However, after World War II and the division of Germany, even after reunification, a great many Germans turned their back on their past, on virtually their entire history prior to 1918 and, as a result, have inadvertently allowed the era of Nazi domination to define them. This has had disastrous consequences on Germany and on the German people themselves. It has led to a guilt-ridden consciousness in which successive German governments feel the need to compensate everyone for misdeeds they themselves played no part in. It has led to the German people being forced to foot the bill for the free-spending and easy lifestyles of other countries (with damaging consequences) and has effectively robbed many Germans of a proper, patriotic national pride. It has also allowed governments to make some pretty terrible decisions, disastrous for the future of the German nation, but which are always forgiven. When the public has been conditioned to think only of Nazi Germany and the current Federal Republic, nothing the republic does could seem that bad.
This denial of history has gone to such lengths that the former Kingdom of Prussia, not just a former state, not just a former country but the country which brought about the unification of Germany, was totally wiped from the map. Why was this done? Hitler and his Nazis did not spring from Prussia nor was Prussia any more or less involved in the actions of that era than any other state considering its size and importance. It was done because there was a conscious effort to erase German history prior to the Nazi era so that the people would only be given a choice that was really no choice at all: that terrible Nazi memory or this new federal republic that was under construction. If the people were to actually remember their history they might realize that it was the first united German republic which provided the vehicle by which Hitler and his Nazis came to power in the first place. Far from starting over fresh, the current republic was simply a resurrected, modified version of the inter-war republic that provided the framework for a truly evil minority to rise by intimidation, subterfuge and (yes) the democratic process to dominate Germany. By doing so they have locked the public imagination into a post-1945 mentality and encouraged the rest of the world to see only a negative image of Germany.
Germany today has no anchor and flounders culturally and politically while gaining very little respect in the world. By being frozen in time the rest of the world has been encouraged to see Germans the same way. Ask a foreigner to describe German culture or what comes to mind when they think of Germany and they will probably come up with beer, lederhosen and Nazis. In a political context, most view Germany as the nation that always pays the bills, that will be there to bail you out if you get too deeply in debt (thus eliminating any incentive to behave responsibly) and yet this has engendered no great love for Germany. Most people tend to have little affection for their banker. Germany has also become known as one of those nations that decries nationality. The country has become more and more multi-cultural in the sense that there are now huge African, Asian, Arab and Turkish populations in the country and yet it has become more mono-cultural as the rich distinctiveness of the states is lost. Some of the old states have been lost altogether and for those that remain their uniqueness has become less and less pronounced over time. It is quite sad and all the more so because it doesn’t have to be this way.
The history and the culture of the individual states was once alive in the persons of their royal families. Reigning at the top of this union was the German Kaiser, representing all Germans as well as the unique history of the Kingdom of Prussia. We are told, by those whose current claim to power rests on the overthrow of the old German royals, that to restore them in any form would be to return power to those guilty of fomenting the First World War. Like any good lie this has a grain of truth to it for Imperial Germany was certainly responsible for the horror that was World War One. However, they were no more responsible than any other great power on either side whether Austria-Hungary, Russia, France or Great Britain. None were innocent nor were any entirely guilty and it was an incontestable injustice that Germany alone was forced to shoulder the blame for a conflict almost every European power entered into with willingness, zeal and enthusiasm. What is more, the party most opposed to the monarchy and which would make up the new ruling class in the republic was just as enthusiastic as all the others in approving the decision to go to war. It is also an incontestable fact that Hitler could never have become dictator of Germany had the Kaiser and the subsidiary monarchs of Imperial Germany retained their positions.
Still, we are told over and over again that the monarchy represented the political culture which brought about the disastrous conflict, what is termed “Prussian militarism” which the enemies of the monarchy used to apply equal guilt to all the monarchies and later to justify the dissolution of Prussia altogether. However, a dispassionate look at the facts shows that the last German Kaiser was the least militaristic of almost all his contemporaries. From 1888 to 1914 Wilhelm II had never fought an actual war. To compare, in that same period of time, Great Britain had fought a war with Tibet over Sikkim, fought the shortest war in history against Zanzibar, fought a border war in northern India and the Second Boer War in South Africa. Consider also that during the reign of Wilhelm II the French Republic had a greater percentage of her population under arms than Germany did. Germany had the second largest navy in the world, second only to Great Britain, yet even then the British fleet was more than twice the size of that of Germany. The United States might have had an even more militaristic reputation. Again, from 1888 to 1914, the United States fought the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, the Banana Wars, another rebellion in the Philippines and an armed intervention in Mexico. The German Empire was actually one of the most peaceful of world powers.
What the German Empire was known for was its unity, pride, progressive social welfare system, productive industries and great learning. The German language was the language of business and was learned in foreign countries more than any other language. The monarchy was a vital living link with the history of the German people that all Germans could look to with pride; a patriotic pride without guilt or shame. It was the royal houses that built the united Germany and it was their downfall that ushered in the darkest period in the entire history of the German people. The German nation which had thrown back invaders since the time of ancient Rome was reduced to utter ruin and humiliation. Only by the restoration of the German monarchies can the ugly ghosts of the last century be firmly put in their place. It is only in this way that, rather than constant efforts to reinvent Germany, that the true, natural and historic Germany can be fully restored to her people and the world. The ruins of Wiemar, Hitlerism and division are not and can never be proper foundations for a country. Germany has strong foundations, it only requires that the people rediscover them and restore them to their proper place.
You may blame the German republic(s) for many things, but that Prussia was "totally wiped from the map" is not the Germans fault. The Allies decreed on 25th February 1947 the elimination of the Prussian state (Kontrollratsgesetz Nr. 46 Auflösung des Staates Preußen). And it happened to be the Allies who created "new states" (Länder) to which the various bits of Prussia were re-assembled.ReplyDelete
There is a slight possibility of a Prussian resurrection: Should the Brandenburg and Berlin (both so-called Länder - states) be amalgamated, then the new Land may be called Prussia. But the plan failed once, the majority of the people in Brandenburg objected to form one Land with Berlin.
My Father is German and although I get most of my Monarchist Beliefs from my British Mother, I know deep down that the restoration of the Monarchy is the Only Hope for Germany to beat back this downward tide, if only Germany would take the advice of Ludwig Von Mises Instutie advice on Monarchy, everyone seems to think a King is a ruler, when he is in fact a servant of his people, making sure his country prospers, not a Kleptocracy like how Republics operate!ReplyDelete
Just once I'd like to be criticized for something I actually said instead of something I didn't. I said:ReplyDelete
"This denial of history has gone to such lengths that the former Kingdom of Prussia, not just a former state, not just a former country but the country which brought about the unification of Germany, was totally wiped from the map."
I did not "blame" the Bundesrepublik, I did not blame the Allies -I simply pointed it out as being part of an overall trend of wiping out pre-1918 history. However, I usually double-down when struck so I will say I do blame the Germans to some extent. The Allied powers don't rule Germany anymore and havn't for a long time. The Germans are big boys and girls who can make their own decisions and they could have restored Prussia, restored all the states and the imperial monarchy if they wished to.
Blaming outsiders never improved anything. You improve by taking responsibility for your own state of affairs and doing something about it, not by pointing fingers.
I agree with most of what you said in this post. However, I have a somewhat different view of the German Empire. In my opinion, the German Empire, with its universal suffrage, its mass conscription, its welfare state and its nationalistic foundation, is what paved the way for the Weimer Republic and the Nazis. I much prefer the German confederation that preceded it.ReplyDelete
By that logic, the German Confederation paved the way for the German Empire and would be equally to blame. You can find better organizations (at least I can) going back in history century after century but that doesn't get us down the road. If monarchists want to be successful they have to at some point be realistic and deal with the facts as they exist.ReplyDelete
The nationalists and the liberals failed to establish a united German state during the reign of the German Confederation. The nationalists and the liberals succeeded with the establishment of the German Empire.Delete
I especially despise that shrewd politician Bismark for founding the modern welfare state that now plagues the west and all states that call themselves 'modern'. I disdain the German Empire not because it centralized authority with the Kaiser. I disdain the German Empire because of the nationalistic, liberal ideologies upon which it was founded.
I am not proposing that modern Germany should return to the confederate model, though I wouldn't mind if it did. I am simply saying that I favor the historical German Confederation over the historical German Empire. I am saying that the German Empire paved the way for the Weimer Republic and the Nazis due to its ideological foundations. It more directly paved the way for the Weimer Republic than it did for the Nazis but, like you said, the Weimer Republic paved the way for the Nazis.
In one way or another, everything in history "paved the way" for everything that came after. This was not an article on which Germany I most preferred nor a defense of the German Empire nor a claim that the German Empire was better than anything that came before it. It was an argument for the restoration of the monarchy -which I thought was pretty clear. It was certainly not a defense of the welfare state (which I would oppose simply as a believer in the sanctity of private property). As far as ideological foundations go, you would have to stretch credibility to the breaking point to say that any of these regimes had anything to do with the other.Delete
Nazi Germany was a dictatorship, Weimar was a democratic republic and the empire was a constitutional monarchy. Imperial Germany no more "paved the way" for Weimar than the ancien regime did for the first French Republic. Imperial Germany had to be torn down for Weimar to be created. If you're going to stretch so far as saying that because nationalism and social welfare existed in the German Empire it led to Weimar then you'd have to say the Confederation did as well as it was based on a nationalistic idea -uniting (loosely) the German peoples, excluding those parts of Austria and Prussia that were not German. The only thing that paved the way for Hitler was Weimar because he was able to gain power within it, he did not have to bring it down in order to gain power. Weimar, on the other hand, could only come about after the Empire had been destroyed.
Most people in America know nothing about Germany other than Hitler and Nazis, as you said. That is what we all get taught from an early age. They just assume that everybody living in Germany and in the German military during WWII was a Nazi and it is poor teaching and poor history.ReplyDelete
I am eager to see what happens when the last of the old Germans die out and there is no longer an enfeeble finger instructing Germany to exist under a shadow of shame.ReplyDelete
I hope for the day that Germany is once more a proud, militaristic nation as it was in the past. However, Germany would not be that nation without Prussia and without the Kaiser.ReplyDelete
Excellent article, thanks! However, as a Catholic, I'd like to see a Wittelsbacher as head of state, not a Prussian. Besides, the Wittelsbacher are the only German royal family who kept their nose clean as far as the Nazis are concerned.ReplyDelete