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CAPRIVI DE CAPRERA
E MONTE CUCCULI, GEORGE LEO VON CAPRIVI DE CAPRERA,
a distinguished German statesman and soldier, the son of a high legal Prussian functionary, was born at Charlottenburg February 24, 1832. Entering the army in 1849 he was rapidly promoted, and served with honor in the campaigns of 1864 and 1866, and in the Franco-Prussian war was chief of staff of the Tenth Corps. In 1883 he was advanced to the rank of lieutenant-general and the next year was transferred to the headship of the admiralty on the retirement of Von Stosch. Caprivi exhibited extraordinary vigor in his new position, as well as a thorough comprehension of Daval methods, and not long after the accession of William II had completely reorganized the navy. In recognition of his eminent services he was transferred back to the army and given command of the Tenth or Hanoverian Army Corps, a highly prized position. On March 19, 1890, he succeeded Bismarck as chancellor and president of the Prussian council, and in 1891 received from the emperor the title of count. In March, 1892, he resigned his position as Prussian prime minister, but retained his chap. cellorship till his resignation of that office also, October 26, 1894. In the last-named year appeared his “ Reden im deutschen Reichstage," with biography,
ON COLONIAL POSSESSIONS
[First speech as chancellor in the Reichstag, delivered on May 12, 1890, in answer to Dr. von Bamberger's speech on the relinquishment of all colonial possessions. ]
ENTLEMEN,—The gentleman who has just spoken
bas turned his attention from the question before
the House to the important subject of our colonial policy. I wish to state with pleasure that he has expressed his approval of the fact that the government has carried out the intentions of the Reichstag. Such is indeed the fact, and I need not enumerate the long series of resolutions through which this House has acknowledged its willingness to support the measures of the federal government. I am convinced, therefore, like my predecessor,1 that a colonial policy is desirable only in as far as it is approved and supported by the will and—with due respect to Mr. Bamberger -by the feeling of the nation.
The honorable gentleman has intimated that possibly through my entrance into office a change of policy might be effected. That I most emphatically deny. I believe it is very generally known among those who have had the opportunity of an earlier acquaintance with me that I have not been an advocate of the colonial policy. For various reasons I looked upon the introduction of a colonial policy at that time as extremely dangerous. Now however I am convinced, that in view of the situation to-day, we cannot withdraw without stain upon our honor and financial loss; we cannot even stand still; nay, we must push forward.
Mr. Bamberger has declared that if the government would make known its purpose, and if the demands were not exorbitant, both he and his party might give their support. I infer, therefore, with a feeling of satisfaction that even among his associates there will not be found a Hannibal Fischer for the German colonies.
If, however, he expects me to set forth a definite program, or to state on the spot: We shall take so many millions and spend them; and then to say we have reached a position where it is possible to dispense with the support of the empire and leave the colonies to themselves,-if, I repeat, he expects this—he is doomed to disappointment. In matters subjected to so many casualities and sealed, as it were, against penetrating into their inner nature as the beginning of colonies in foreign lands,-territory not only unknown to ourselves but to all other nations as well, -it is simply impossible to predict that twelve months hence such events will happen or we shall need so much money. I can only emphasizeand the fact perhaps will give me more weight with Mr. Bamberger's partisans—that I am not a colonial enthusiast, that even to-day I look upon the matter with perfectly cool judgment, and that with my advice matters will only go as far as the honor and the interests of Germany demand.
1 Hannibal Fischer sold by order of the Federal Diet in 1852 the German fleet lying in Bremerhaven, and thereby aroused the indignation of the German people.
Orations. Vol. 22—9
The honorable gentleman looks upon the colonial policy as a money question and says: a colonial policy is an economic policy, and in a certain sense he is right, although he; draws the line a little too closely. Therefore he has described the economic policy hitherto pursued by the federal government toward the colonies in a light not altogether favorable; he has named sums much too large in my estimation for expenses incurred so far. I have a natural aversion to enter into details with a shrewd financier, but I can state as a fact that he has counted into the expenses quoted by him: subsidies for steamships, appropriations for the maintenance of war-vessels, for salaries of officials, expenses pertaining in a certain measure to other purposes also, and which would have been necessary, even if we had decided upon no colonial policy. According to documents before me the sum hitherto expended by the empire for colonial purposes amounts to not quite 5,500,000 marks, and the money invested by companies -as far as I am able to ascertain—to somewhat less than 15,000,000 marks.
I admit that with the appearance of the colonial policy a great many misconceptions crept in. There was a belief for instance that we had but to stretch out our hands to find in one colony a nugget of gold, in another manufactured cigars, errors easily refuted by those who had seriously,
studied the question. The territory left for German colonies was decidedly not of that kind; on the contrary it became clearer day by day that profits could be realized only with great labor and after a considerable lapse of time.
Mr. Bamberger presents to us the example of the English. Their companies,” he says, “colonize without the assistance of the government.” We would gladly follow their example, and we admit it to be our aim some day to reach a point where our government will cease to make appropriations and the companies will take upon themselves all responsibility and expense and thereby guarantee a profit to those engaged in the enterprise. But we are absolutely unable to carry out this English system immediately. In the short time that I have been in office I have learned how difficult it is to find a competent man for a comparatively subordinate position in the colonies, to say nothing of a man qualified both by natural ability and experience to fill a high position. But there is another point in which we differ from England. History tells us that English private capital has a tendency to turn to such enterprises; German capital, on the other hand, prefers investment in the doubtful securities of doubtful foreign states.
The reasons for this are well known, and the honorable and experienced gentleman undoubtedly knows them much better than I do.
The federal government cannot-as proved by the measure submitted to us here-state on the first of April of the present year how much they will have spent next year. This is where we would have the nation and the Reichstag believe that we will go no further than is absolutely necessary. We wish to be so far trusted as not to be open to suspicion in case we should spend 4,000,000 instead of 2,500,000; such increased expenditure is sometimes unavoidable. The colonial policy cannot be awarded to the lowest bidder; it must be given to those who are willing to undertake the matter.
In the debate to-day we are principally thinking of East Africa, and this is only natural. But if we wish to draw conclusions for the future from the past, as far as the financial side is concerned, East Africa offers a singularly unfavorable field: first, it is an unbounded territory; secondly, existing conditions are heterogeneous; and thirdly, the insurrection there has interrupted the natural development. Yet, leaving out the expenses of the navy and the officials, I can state that the Protectorates of Togo and Kamerun are selfsupporting. We do not therefore—thanks to an able administration-show a deficit everywhere. This happy state of affairs will probably not be brought about so rapidly in East Africa; it will take years, but I have faith and hope that we shall achieve it some day; and in colonial affairs some faith and trust are necessary.
Let us consider the origin of the colonial policy and ask ourselves: What induced the imperial government to enter into what the gentleman is pleased to term" an ill-considered policy”? It is obvious that besides the expectation of financial gain other motives must have co-operated, else so many prudent and sensible men as the members of this House would hardly have embarked on this ship.
The honorable member has touched upon the humane and religious question of anti-slavery! Whatever importance may be attached to it here, I will leave undecided, but I believe it must be admitted even by those who are not inclined to favor this movement that flourishing industry and trade, nay, even well-conducted farming, is impossible without giving the natives some moral and intellectual education.