« PreviousContinue »
If we wish to bring them to this condition, we have, in my judgment, the obligation-even for the sake of our own pecuniary interests—to support the missions and to promote the civilization of these people.
It is a well-known fact that the Centret gave its consent to the colonial policy influenced by religious motives and the anti-slavery movement. But as far as I have been able to follow the stenographic reports, the Centre did not object, if incidentally German national interests might be advanced thereby.
Others emphasize the national economic interests, yet accept with gratitude any advance toward christianization and German civilization made through this initiative.
Each one must decide for himself how important he considere these matters, but through the Congo acts we are under international obligations to do something toward the advancement of civilization, and shall be still more strongly bound through the conference of Brussels now in session.
It is my opinion that only through the establishment of an organization, approaching to what in Europe we term a state, shall we be enabled effectually to resist slavery. But this is still in the dim future. First of all we must establish stations in the interior from which the missionary, as well as the merchant, may extend the field of their activities; to attain the result desired by the Centre, gun and Bible must work side by side, for without killing the slave-traders we can never put an end to slavery.
But there is one reason which the honorable member considers unimportant, and therefore puts aside the national feeling! I am convinced, and I know whereof I am speaking, that one of the factors which led us to launch into the
colonial policy was the endeavor to maintain a tide of national feeling. After the war of 1870 there came a period of inertia in which the national spirit seemed to be paralyzed. It had no particular object to turn to; idealism, so necessary to the German mind, had lost its faculty of manifesting itself in the intellectual sphere. The war had provided it with practical aims, yet there remained an overflow of energy seeking an outlet. Then came the colonial policy, and the feeling for national honor and greatness with all its intensity-in many instances blindness-threw itself into this field.
You know, gentlemen, that the German nature, leaning as it does, strongly toward particularism, needs idealism if it is to be usefully employed. To concentrate itself this idealism needs a focal point; such a focus was found in the colonial policy, and was, as far as I know, gratefully received by the nation. Mr. Bamberger calls this a "romantic" feeling and considers it of little importance. I should like to ask him if he thinks the German Reichstag would be sitting here to-day but for this “ romantic” feeling of the people?
I think not. I attach great importance to this national instinct, the “ unconscious " in the soul of the people; moreover, should I find evidences of the smoldering of such a fire I should deem it my duty to search for it, foster it, and lead it into useful channels.
I concur however with Mr. Bamberger in his belief that this enthusiasm alone is of little value, since it is difficult to convert it into hard cash, German colonial enthusiasm in particular, which proverbially tightens the purse strings. Nevertheless I am of the opinion that after the pacification of the natives and the establishment of a well-regulated government, East Africa will offer special inducements for the investment of private capital. I sincerely hope that whatever is left of colonial enthusiasm may overcome this obstacle and manifest itself in the form of ringing coin.
With many people the national question was synonymous with power, and I must confess this question of power in the colonial policy was treated by the majority with a surprising display of ignorance. It was believed we had only to buy colonies, paint the map of Africa the German color and proclaim to all the world: We are a great people!
But not so; in its inception, a colonial policy, as far as power is concerned, operates negatively; its success can be secured only by great sacrifices both of men and money. If it is a policy of faith and hope from the financial and ethical point of view, it is equally so with regard to power, and perhaps in this direction the necessity of faith is even more urgent. I can assure the honorable member that as far as I am concerned not a man shall be sacrificed or a mark spent more than is absolutely necessary to maintain and develop what is ours.
I should never consent to send large sums of money or numbers of men to East Africa merely to gratify a desire to display power.
Mr. Bamberger has also touched upon the question of war, saying that in such a calamity colonies are dangerous posses sions. I am willing to admit that they are doubtful ones, yet as an old soldier I know that the decision at the principal seat of war is always decisive of the fate of the dependencies. If war should break out in Europe—which heaven forbid
— and we be victorious here, it would be immaterial whether some colony or other should find itself in an evil plight, the peace stipulations would fully reinstate us.
Looking into the future, I do not deem it impossible that the progress and development of the world at large will forco Germany to enter into closer-and let us hope peaceful relations with trans-oceanic states. The Phæacian existence of a small European state must cease, we shall have to deal with powers across the ocean, which are masters of enormous treasures in people and money, unknown to us; and if we realize that the time will come when German spirit and German power must manifest themselves more vigorously than heretofore, we must reach the conclusion that a navy is necessary. It was my aim during the years that I had the honor of being chief of the admiralty to labor for the development of the navy, that we might the better maintain our prestige in the event of our enlarging the sphere of our activities.
If we admit the possibility of our being placed in such a position as to need the display of a naval force in peace and war in foreign waters, we must necessarily ask ourselves: Where shall it take its supplies, the substance without which it is able neither to move nor to fight? Should we now become engaged in a war with a foreign power, we have some few but inadequate means of providing our vessels with coal. On the whole we should have to depend upon the friendlinese of neutral powers; yet those who believe in the great future of the navy cannot tolerate such conditions for any length of time. We must therefore gain possession of a few places where German coal may be supplied to German ships by Ger man authorities. The existence of coaling-stations is therefore the prime condition for naval activity in the future wars; and if we are called upon at this moment to vote some insignificant sums for our colonies, I am sanguine that this capital is a good investment and that we shall reap a manifold return.
To sum up then: We shall endeavor to advance step by step (if the Reichstag will support us); we shall not launch out into any risky enterprise;. we shall strive to bring the companies to where they originally stood--that is, make them
as independent as possible, although I am not able to state today to what extent these companies will feel inclined to work independently. At this time we have in East Africa, created by the Wissmann laws, a body of soldiers belonging to no one knows whom. I do not deem it improbable that in after years, when the dictatorship and state of war shall bave ceased, these troops, recruited by Wissmann in the old lansquenet" style, may be changed into imperial troops, thus achieving more than now, when we recruit by contract.
It shall be our endeavor to respect foreign rights everywhere, as amplified by the secretary of state, and to protect the German empire. I firmly believe the federal government able to conduct the colonial policy in such a way as not to endanger the German universal policy and not to offend the legitimate development of German national feeling.
[Translated by Helena Nordhoff Gargan.]
From the German “Landsknecht,”-soldier of fortune.