Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Volume One - A Reckoning
Chapter VII: The Revolution
WITH THE YEAR 1915 enemy propaganda began in our country, after
1916 it became more and more intensive, till finally, at the beginning of
the year 1918, it swelled to a positive flood. Now the results of this seduction
could be seen at every step. The army gradually learned to think as the
enemy wanted it to.
And the German counter-action was a complete failure.
In the person of the man whose intellect and will made him its
leader, the army had the intention and determination to take up the struggle
in this field, too, but it lacked the instrument which would have been necessary.
And from the psychological point of view, it was wrong to have this enlightenment
work carried on by the troops themselves. If it was to be effective, it
had to come from home. Only then was there any assurance of success among
the men who, after all, had been performing immortal deeds of heroism and
privation for nearly four years for this homeland.
But what came out of the home country?
Was this failure stupidity or crime?
In midsummer of 1918, after the evacuation of the southern bank
of the Marne, the German press above all conducted itself with such miserable
awkwardness, nay, criminal stupidity, that my wrath mounted by the day,
and the question arose within me: Is there really no one who can put an
end to this spiritual squandering of the army's heroism?
What happened in France in 1914 when we swept into the country
in an unprecedented storm of victory? What did Italy do in the days after
her Isonzo front had collapsed? And what again did France do in the spring
of 1918 when the attack of the German divisions seemed to lift her positions
off their hinges and the far-reaching arm of the heavy long-range batteries
began to knock at the doors of Paris?
How they whipped the fever heat of national passion into the
faces of the hastily retreating regiments in those countries ! What propaganda
and ingenious demagogy were used to hammer the faith in final victory back
into the hearts of the broken fronts!
Meanwhile, what happened in our country?
Nothing, or worse than nothing.
Rage and indignation often rose up in me when I looked at the
latest newspapers, and came face to face with the psychological mass murder
that was being committed.
More than once I was tormented by the thought that if Providence
had put me in the place of the incapable or criminal incompetents or scoundrels
in our propaganda service, our battle with Destiny would have taken a different
In these months I felt for the first time the whole malice of
Destiny which kept me at the front in a position where every negro might
accidentally shoot me to bits, while elsewhere I would have been able to
perform quite different services for the fatherland !
For even then I was rash enough to believe that I would have
succeeded in this.
But I was a nameless soldier, one among eight million!
And so it was better to hold my tongue and do my duty in the
trenches as best I could.
In the summer of 1915, the first enemy leaflets fell into
Aside from a few changes in the form of presentation, their
Content was almost always the same, to wit: that the suffering was growing
greater and greater in Germany; that the War was going to last forever while
the hope of winning it was gradually vanishing; that the people at home
were, therefore, longing for peace, but that 'militarism' and the 'Kaiser'
did not allow it; that the whole world-to whom this was very well known-
was, therefore, not waging a war on the German people, but exclusively against
the sole guilty party, the Kaiser; that, therefore, the War would not be
over before this enemy of peaceful humanity should be eliminated; that when
the War was ended, the libertarian and democratic nations would take the
German people into the league of eternal world peace, which would be assured
from the hour when ' Prussian militarism ' was destroyed.
The better to illustrate these claims, 'letters from home' were
often reprinted whose contents seemed to confirm these assertions.
On the whole, we only laughed in those days at all these efforts.
The leaflets were read, then sent back to the higher staffs, and for the
most part forgotten until the wind again sent a load of them sailing down
into the trenches; for, as a rule, the leaflets were brought over by airplanes.
In this type of propaganda there was one point which soon inevitably
attracted attention: in every sector of the front where Bavarians were stationed,
Prussia was attacked with extraordinary consistency, with the assurance
that not only was Prussia on the one hand the really guilty and responsible
party for the whole war, but that on the other hand there was not the slightest
hostility against Bavaria in particular; however, there was no helping Bavaria
as long as she served Prussian militarism and helped to pull its chestnuts
out of the fire.
Actually this kind of propaganda began to achieve certain effects
in 1915. The feeling against Prussia grew quite visibly among the troops-yet
not a single step was taken against it from above. This was more than a
mere sin of omission, and sooner or later we were bound to suffer most catastrophically
for it; and not just the 'Prussians,' but the whole German people, to which
Bavaria herself is not the last to belong.
In this direction enemy propaganda began to achieve unquestionable
successes from 1916 on.
Likewise the complaining letters direct from home had long been
having their effect. It was no longer necessary for the enemy to transmit
them to the frontline soldiers by means of leaflets, etc. And against this,
aside from a few psychologically idiotic 'admonitions' on the part of the
'government,' nothing was done. Just as before, the front was flooded with
this poison dished up by thoughtless women at home, who, of course, did
not suspect that this was the way to raise the enemy's confidence in victory
to the highest pitch, thus consequently to prolong and sharpen the sufferings
of their men at the fighting front. In the time that followed, the senseless
letters of German women cost hundreds of thousands of men their lives.
Thus, as early as 1916, there appeared various phenomena that
would better have been absents The men at the front complained and 'beefed';
they began to be dissatisfied in many ways and sometimes were even righteously
indignant. While they starved and suffered, while their people at home lived
in misery, there was abundance and high-living in other circles. Yes, even
at the fighting front all was not in order in this respect.
Even then a slight crisis was emerging-but these were still
'internal' affairs. The same man, who at first had cursed and grumbled,
silently did his duty a few minutes later as though
this was a matter of course. The same company, which at first was discontented,
clung to the piece of trench it had to defend as though Germany's fate depended
on these few hundred yards of mudholes. It was still the front of the old,
glorious army of heroes!
I was to learn the difference between it and the homeland in
At the end of September, 1916, my division moved into the Battle
of the Somme. For us it was the first of the tremendous battles of materiel
which now followed, and the impression was hard to describe-it was more
like hell than war.
Under a whirlwind of drumfire that lasted for weeks, the German
front held fast, sometimes forced back a little, then again pushing forward,
but never wavering.
On October 7, 1916, I was wounded.
I was brought safely to the rear, and from there was to return
to Germany with a transport.
Two years had now passed since I had seen the homeland under
such conditions an almost endless time. I could scarcely imagine how Germans
looked who were not in uniform. As I lay in the field hospital at Hermies,
I almost collapsed for fright when suddenly the voice of a German woman
serving as a nurse addressed a man lying beside me.
For the first time in two years to hear such a sound!
The closer our train which was to bring us home approached the
border, the more inwardly restless each of us became. All the towns passed
by, through which we had ridden two years previous as young soldiers: Brussels,
Louvain, Liege, and at last we thought we recognized the first German house
by its high gable and beautiful shutters.
In October, 1914, we had burned with stormy enthusiasm as we
crossed the border; now silence and emotion reigned. Each of us was happy
that Fate again permitted him to see what he had had to defend so hard with
his life, and each man was wellnigh ashamed to let another look him in the
It was almost on the anniversary of the day when I left for
the front that I reached the hospital at Beelitz near Berlin.
What a change! From the mud of the Battle of the Somme into
the white beds of this miraculous building! In the beginning we hardly dared
to lie in them properly. Only gradually could we reaccustom ourselves to
this new world.
Unfortunately, this world was new in another respect as well.
The spirit of the army at the front seemed no longer to be a
guest here.l Here for the first time I heard a thing that was still unknown
at the front; men bragging about their own cowardice! For the cursing and
'beefing' you could hear at the front were never an incitement to shirk
duty or a glorification of the coward. No! The coward still passed as a
coward and as nothing else; and al he contempt which struck him was still
general, just like the admiration that was given to the real hero. But here
in the hospital it was partly almost the opposite: the most unscrupulous
agitators did the talking and attempted with all the means of their contemptible
eloquence to make the conceptions of the decent soldiers ridiculous and
hold up the spineless coward as an example. A few wretched scoundrels in
particular set the tone. One boasted that he himself had pulled his hand
through a barbed-wire entanglement in order to be sent to the hospital;
in spite of this absurd wound he seemed to have been here for an endless
time, and for that matter he had only gotten into the transport to Germany
by a swindle. This poisonous fellow went so far in his insolent effrontery
as to represent his own cowardice as an emanation 2 Of higher bravery than
the hero's death of an honest soldier. Many listened in silence, others
went away, but a few assented.
Disgust mounted to my throat, but the agitator was calmly tolerated
in the institution. What could be done? The management couldn't help knowing,
and actually did know, exactly who and what he was. But nothing was done.
When I could again walk properly, I obtained permission to go
Clearly there was dire misery everywhere. The big city was suffering
from hunger. Discontent was great. In various soldiers' homes the tone was
like that in the hospital. It gave you the impression that these scoundrels
were intentionally frequenting such places in order to spread their views.
But much, much worse were conditions in Munich itself !
When I was discharged from the hospital as cured and transferred
to the replacement battalion, I thought I could no longer recognize the
city. Anger, discontent, cursing, wherever you went! In the replacement
battalion itself the mood was beneath all criticism. Here a contributing
factor was the immeasurably clumsy way in which the field soldiers were
treated by old training officers who hadn't spent a single hour in the field
and for this reason alone were only partially able to create a decent relationship
with the old soldiers. For it had to be admitted that the latter possessed
certain qualities which could be explained by their service at the front,
but which remained totally incomprehensible to the leaders of these replacement
detachments while the officer who had come from the front was at least able
to explain them. The latter, of course, was respected by the men quite differently
than the rear commander. But aside from this, the general mood was miserable:
to be a slacker passed almost as a sign of higher wisdom, while loyal steadfastness
was considered a symptom of inner weakness and narrow-mindedness. The offices
were filled with Jews. Nearly every clerk was a Jew and nearly every Jew
was a clerk. I was amazed at this plethora of warriors of the chosen people
and could not help but compare them with their rare representatives at the
As regards economic life, things were even worse Here the Jewish
people had become really 'indispensable.' The spider was slowly beginning
to suck the blood out of the people's pores. Through the war corporations,
they had found an instrument with which, little by little, to finish off
the national free economy
The necessity of an unlimited centralization was emphasized
Thus, in the year 191S17 nearly the whole of production was
under the control of Jewish finance.
But against whom was the hatred of the people directed?
At this time I saw with horror a catastrophe approaching which,
unless averted in time, would inevitably lead to collapse.
While the Jew robbed the whole nation and pressed it beneath
his domination, an agitation was carried on against the 'Prussians.' At
home, as at the front, nothing was done against this poisonous propaganda.
No one seemed to suspect that the collapse of Prussia would not by a long
shot bring with it a resurgence of Bavaria; no, that on the contrary any
fall of the one would inevitably carry the other along with it into the
I felt very badly about this behavior. In it I could only see
the craftiest trick of the Jew, calculated to distract the general attention
from himself and to others. While the Bavarian and the Prussian fought,
he stole the existence of both of them from under their nose; while the
Bavarians were cursing the Prussians, the Jew organized the revolution and
smashed Prussia and Bavaria at once.
I could not bear this accursed quarrel among German peoples,
and was glad to return to the front, for which I reported at once after
my arrival in Munich.
At the beginning of March, 1917, I was back with my regiment.
Toward the end of I911, the low point of the army's dejection
seemed to have passed. The whole army took fresh hope and fresh courage
after the Russian collapse. The conviction that the War would end with the
victory of Germany, after all, began to seize the troops more and more.
Again singing could be heard and the Calamity Lanes became rarer. Again
people believed in the future of the fatherland.
Especially the Italian collapse of autumn, 1917, had had the
most wonderful effect; in this victory we saw a proof of the possibility
of breaking through the front, even aside from the Russian theater of war.
A glorious faith flowed again into the hearts of the millions, enabling
them to await spring, 1918, with relief and confidence. The foe was visibly
depressed. In this winter he remained quieter than usual. This was the lull
before the storm.
But, while those at the front were undertaking the last preparations
for the final conclusion of the eternal struggle, while endless transports
of men and materiel were rolling toward the West Front, and the troops were
being trained for the great attack- the biggest piece of chicanery in the
whole war broke out in Germany.
Germany must not be victorious; in the last hour, with victory
already threatening to be with the German banners, a means was chosen which
seemed suited to stifle the German spring attack in the germ with one blow,
to make victory impossible:
The munitions strike was organized
If it succeeded, the German front was bound to collapse, and
the Vorwarts' desire that this time victory should not be with the German
banners would inevitably be fulfilled. Owing to the lack of munitions, the
front would inevitably be pierced in a few weeks; thus the offensive was
thwarted, the Entente saved international capital was made master of Germany,
and the inner aim of the Marxist swindle of nations achieved.
To smash the national economy and establish the rule of international
capital a goal which actually was achieved, thanks to the stupidity and
credulity of the one side and the bottomless cowardice of the other.
To be sure, the munitions strike did not have all the hoped-for
success with regard to starving the front of arms; it collapsed too soon
for the lack of munitions as such-as the plan had been- to doom the army
But how much more terrible was the moral damage that had been
In the first place: What was the army fighting for if the homeland
itself no longer wanted victory? For whom the immense sacrifices and privations?
The soldier is expected to fight for victory and the homeland goes on strike
And in the second place: What was the effect on the enemy?
In the winter of 1917 to 1918, dark clouds appeared for the
first time in the firmament of the Allied world. For nearly four years they
had been assailing the German warrior and had been unable to encompass his
downfall; and all this while the German had only his shield arm free for
defense, while his sword was obliged to strike, now in the East, now in
the South. But now at last the giant's back was free. Streams of blood had
flown before he administered final defeat to one of his foes. Now in the
West his shield was going to be joined by his sword; up till then the enemy
had been unable to break his defense, and now he himself was facing attack.
The enemy feared him and trembled for their victory.
In London and Paris one deliberation followed another, but at
the front sleepy silence prevailed. Suddenly their high mightinesses lost
their effrontery. Even enemy propaganda was having a hard time of it; it
was no longer so easy to prove the hopelessness of German victory.
But this also applied to the Allied troops at the fronts. A
ghastly light began to dawn slowly even on them. Their inner attitude toward
the German soldier had changed. Until then he may have seemed to them a
fool destined to defeat; but now it was the destroyer of the Russian ally
that stood before them. The limitation of the German offensives to the East,
though born of necessity, now seemed to them brilliant tactics. For three
years these Germans had stormed the Russian front, at first it seemed without
the slightest success. The Allies almost laughed over this aimless undertaking;
for in the end the Russian giant with his overwhelming number of men was
sure to remain the victor while Germany would inevitably collapse from loss
of blood. Reality seemed to confirm this hope.
Since the September days of 1914, when for the first time the
endless hordes of Russian prisoners from the Battle of Tannenberg began
moving into Germany over the roads and railways, this stream was almost
without end-but for every defeated and destroyed army a new one arose. Inexhaustibly
the gigantic Empire gave the Tsar more and more new soldiers and the War
its new victims. How long could Germany keep up this race? Would not the
day inevitably come when the Germans would win their last victory and still
the Russian armies would not be marching to their last battle? And then
what? In all human probability the victory of Russia could be postponed,
but it was bound to come.
Now all these hopes were at an end: the ally who had laid the
greatest blood sacrifices on the altar of common interests was at the end
of his strength, and lay prone at the feet of the inexorable assailant.
Fear and horror crept into the hearts of the soldiers who had hitherto believed
so blindly. They feared the coming spring. For if up until then they had
not succeeded in defeating the German when he was able to place only part
of his forces on the Western Front, how could they count on victory now
that the entire power of this incredible heroic state seemed to be concentrating
for an attack on the West?
The shadows of the South Tyrolean Mountains lay oppressive on
the fantasy; as far as the mists of Flanders, the defeated armies of Cadorna
conjured up gloomy faces, and faith in victory ceded to fear of coming defeat.
Then-when out of the cool nights the Allied soldiers already
seemed to hear the dull rumble of the advancing storm units of the German
army, and with eyes fixed in fear and trepidation awaited the approaching
judgment, suddenly a flaming red light arose in Germany, casting its glow
into the last shell-hole of the enemy front: at the very moment when the
German divisions were receiving their last instructions for the great attack,
the general strike broke out in Germany.
At first the world was speechless. But then enemy propaganda
hurled itself with a sigh of relief on this help that came in the eleventh
hour. At one stroke the means was found to restore the sinking confidence
of the Allied soldiers, once again to represent the probability of victory
as certain,l and transform dread anxiety in the face of coming events into
determined confidence. Now the regiments awaiting the German attack could
be sent into the greatest battle of all time with the conviction that, not
the boldness of the German assault would decide the end of this war but
the perseverance of the defense. Let the Germans achieve as many victories
as they pleased; at home the revolution was before the door, and not the
English, French, and American newspapers began to implant this
faith in the hearts of their readers while an infinitely shrewd propaganda
raised the spirits of the troops at the front.
'Germany facing revolution! Victory of the Allies inevitable!
This was the best medicine to help the wavering poilu and Tommy back on
their feet. Now rifles and machine guns could again be made to fire, and
a headlong flight in panic fear was replaced by hopeful resistance.
This was the result of the munitions strike. It strengthened
the enemy peoples' belief in victory and relieved the paralyzing despair
of the Allied front-in the time that followed, thousands of German soldiers
had to pay for this with their blood. The instigators of this vilest of
all scoundrelly tricks were the aspirants to the highest state positions
of revolutionary Germany.
On the German side, it is true, the visible reaction to this
crime could at first apparently be handled; on the enemy side, however,
the consequences did not fail to appear. The resistance had lost the aimlessness
of an army giving up all as lost, and took on the bitterness of a struggle
For now, in all human probability, victory was inevitable if
the Western Front could stand up under a German attack for only a few months.
The parliaments of the Entente, however, recognized the possibilities for
the future and approved unprecedented expenditures for continuing the propaganda
to disrupt Germany.
I had the good fortune to fight in the first two offensives
and in the last.
These became the most tremendous impressions of my life; tremendous
because now for the last time, as in 1914, the fight lost the character
of defense and assumed that of attack. A sigh of relief passed through the
trenches and the dugouts of the German army when at length, after more than
three years' endurance in the enemy hell, the day of retribution came. Once
again the victorious battalions cheered and hung the last wreaths of immortal
laurel on their banners rent by the storm of victory. Once again the songs
of the fatherland roared to the heavens along the endless marching columns,
and for the last time the Lord's grace smiled on His ungrateful children.
In midsummer of 1918, oppressive sultriness lay over the
front. At home there was fighting. For what? In the different detachments
of the field army all sorts of things were being said: that the war was
now hopeless and only fools could believe in victory That not the people
but only capital and the monarchy had an interest in holding out any longer-all
this came from the homeland and was discussed even at the front.
At first the front reacted very little. What did we care about
universal suffrage? Had we fought four years for that? It was vile banditry
to steal the war aim of the dead heroes from their very graves. The young
regiments had not gone to their death in Flanders crying: 'Long dive universal
suffrage and the secret ballot,' but crying: 'Deutschland uber Alles in
der Welt.' A small yet not entirely insignificant, difference. But most
of those who cried out for suffrage hadn't ever been in the place where
they now wanted to fight for it. The front was unknown to the whole political
party rabble. Only a small fraction of the Parliamentary ian gentlemen could
be seen where all decent Germans with sound limbs left were sojourning at
And so the old personnel at the front was not very receptive
to this new war aims of Messrs. Ebert, Scheidemann, Barth, Liebnitz, etc.
They couldn't for the life of them see why suddenly the slackers should
have the right to arrogate to themselves control of the state over the heads
of the army.
My personal attitude was established from the very start. I
hated the whole gang of miserable party scoundrels and betrayers of the
people in the extreme. It had long been clear to me that this whole gang
was not really concerned with the welfare of the nation, but with filling
empty pockets. For this they were ready to sacrifice the whole nation, and
if necessary to let Germany be destroyed; and in my eyes this made them
ripe for hanging. To take consideration of their wishes was to sacrifice
the interests of the working people for the benefit of a few pickpockets;
these wishes could only be fulfilled by giving up Germany.
And the great majority of the embattled army still thought the
same. Only the reinforcements coming from home rapidly grew worse and worse,
so that their arrival meant, not a reinforcement but a weakening of our
fighting strength. Especially the young reinforcements were mostly worthless.
It was often hard to believe that these were sons of the same nation which
had once sent its youth out to the battle for Ypres.
In August and September, the symptoms of disorganization increased
more and more rapidly, although the effect of the enemy attack was not to
be compared with the terror of our former defensive battles. The past Battle
of Flanders and the Battle of the Somme had been awesome by comparison.
At the end of September, my division arrived for the third time
at the positions which as young volunteer regiments we had once stormed.
What a memory!
In October and November of I914, we had there received our baptism
of fire. Fatherland love in our heart and songs on our lips, our young regiments
had gone into the battle as to a dance The most precious blood there sacrificed
itself joyfully, in the faith that it was preserving the independence and
freedom of the fatherland.
In July, I917, we set foot for the second time on the ground
that was sacred to all of us. For in it the best comrades slumbered still
almost children, who had run to their death with gleaming eyes for the one
We old soldiers, who had then marched out with the regiment
stood in respectful emotion at this shrine of 'loyalty and obedience to
Now in a hard defensive battle the regiment was to defend this
soil which it had stormed three years earlier.
With three weeks of drumfire the Englishman prepared the great
Flanders offensive. The spirits of the dead seemed to quicken; the regiment
clawed its way into the filthy mud, bit into the various holes and craters,
and neither gave ground nor wavered. As once before in this place, it grew
steadily smaller and thinner, until the British attack finally broke loose
on July 13, 1917.
In the first days of August we were relieved.
The regiment had turned into a few companies: crusted with mud
they tottered back, more like ghosts than men. But aside from a few hundred
meters of shell holes, the Englishman had found nothing but death.
Now, in the fall of 1918, we stood for the third time on the
storm site of 1914. The little city of Comines where we then rested had
now become our battlefield. Yet, though the battlefield was the same, the
men had changed: for now 'political discussions went on even among the troops.
As everywhere, the poison of the hinterland began, here too, to be effective.
And the younger recruit fell down completely for he came from home.
In the night of October 13, the English gas attack on the southern
front before Ypres burst loose; they used yellow-cross gas, whose effects
were still unknown to us as far as personal experience was concerned. In
this same night I myself was to become acquainted with it. On a hill south
of Wervick, we came on the evening of October 13 into several hours of drumfire
with gas shells which continued all night more or less violently. As early
as midnight, a number of us passed out, a few of our comrades forever. Toward
morning I, too, was seized with pain which grew worse with every quarter
hour, and at seven in the morning I stumbled and tottered back with burning
eyes; taking with me my last report of the War.
A few hours later, my eyes had turned into glowing coals; it
had grown dark around me.
Thus I came to the hospital at Pasewalk in Pomerania, and there
I was fated to experience-the greatest villainy of the century.
For a long time there had been something indefinite but repulsive
in the air. People were telling each other that in the next few weeks it
would ' start in '-but I was unable to imagine what was meant by this. First
I thought of a strike like that of the spring. Unfavorable rumors were constantly
coming from the navy, which was said to be in a state of ferment. But this,
too, seemed to me more the product of the imagination of individual scoundrels
than an affair involving real masses. Even in the hospital, people were
discussing the end of the War which they hoped would come soon, but no one
counted on anything immediate. I was unable to read the papers.
In November the general tension increased.
And then one day, suddenly and unexpectedly, the calamity descended.
Sailors arrived in trucks and proclaimed the revolution; a few Jewish youths
were the 'leaders' in this struggle for the 'freedom, beauty, and dignity'
of our national existence. None of them had been at the front. By way of
a so-called 'gonorrhoea hospital,' the three Orientals had been sent back
home from their second-line base. Now they raised the red rag in the homeland.
In the last few days I had been getting along better. The piercing
pain in my eye sockets was diminishing; slowly I succeeded in distinguishing
the broad outlines of the things about me. I was given grounds for hoping
that I should recover my eyesight at least well enough to be able to pursue
some profession later. To be sure, I could no longer hope that I would ever
be able to draw again. In any case, I was on the road to improvement when
the monstrous thing happened.
My first hope was still that this high treason might still be
a more or less local affair. I also tried to bolster up a few comrades in
this view. Particularly my Bavarian friends in the hospital were more than
accessible to this. The mood there was anything but 'revolutionary.' I could
not imagine that the madness would break out in Munich, too. Loyalty to
the venerable House of Wittelsbach seemed to me stronger, after all, than
the will of a few Jews. Thus I could not help but believe that this was
merely a Putsch on the part of the navy and would be crushed in the next
The next few days came and with them the most terrible certainty
of my life. The rumors became more and more oppressive. What I had taken
for a local affair was now said to be a general revolution. To this was
added the disgraceful news from the front. They wanted to capitulate. Was
such a thing really possible?
On November 10, the pastor came to the hospital for a short
address: now we learned everything.
In extreme agitation, I, too, was present at the short speech.
The dignified old gentleman seemed all a-tremble as he informed us that
the House of Hollenzollern should no longer bear the German imperial crown;
that the fatherland had become a ' republic '; that we must pray to the
Almighty not to refuse His blessing to this change and not to abandon our
people in the times to come. He could not help himself, he had to speak
a few words in memory of the royal house. He began to praise its services
in Pomerania, in Prussia, nay, to the German fatherland, and-here he began
to sob gently to himself-in the little hall the deepest dejection settled
on all hearts, and I believe that not an eye was able to restrain its tears.
But when the old gentleman tried to go on, and began to tell us that we
must now end the long War, yes, that now that it was lost and we were throwing
ourselves upon the mercy of the victors, our fatherland would for the future
be exposed to dire oppression, that the armistice should be accepted with
confidence in the magnanimity of our previous enemies-I could stand it no
longer. It became impossible for me to sit still one minute more. Again
everything went black before my eyes; I tottered and groped my way back
to the dormitory, threw myself on my bunk, and dug my burning head into
my blanket and pillow.
Since the day when I had stood at my mother's grave, I had not
wept. When in my youth Fate seized me with merciless hardness, my defiance
mounted. When in the long war years Death snatched so many a dear comrade
and friend from our ranks, it would have seemed to me almost a sin to complain-
after all, were they not dying for Germany? And when at length the creeping
gas-in the last days of the dreadful struggle- attacked me, too, and began
to gnaw at my eyes, and beneath the fear of going blind forever, I nearly
lost heart for a moment, the voice of my conscience thundered at me: Miserable
wretch, are you going to cry when thousands are a hundred times worse off
than you! And so I bore my lot in dull silence. But now I could not help
it. Only now did I see how all personal suffering vanishes in comparison
with the misfortune of the fatherland.
And so it had all been in vain. In vain all the sacrifices and
privations; in vain the hunger and thirst of months which were often endless;
in vain the hours in which, with mortal fear clutching at our hearts, we
nevertheless did our duty; and in vain the death of two millions who died.
Would not the graves of all the hundreds of thousands open, the graves of
those who with faith in the fatherland had marched forth never to return?
Would they not open and send the silent mud- and blood-covered heroes back
as spirits of vengeance to the homeland which had cheated them with such
mockery of the highest sacrifice which a man can make to his people in this
world? Had they died for is, the soldiers of August and September, 1914?
Was it for this that in the autumn of the same year the volunteer regiments
marched after their old comrades? Was it for this that these boys of seventeen
sank into the earth of Flanders? Was this the meaning of the sacrifice which
the German mother made to the fatherland when with sore heart she let her
best-loved boys march off, never to see them again? Did all this happen
only so that a gang of wretched criminals could lay hands on the fatherland?
Was it for this that the German soldier had stood host in the
sun's heat-and in snowstorms, hungry, thirsty, and freezing, weary from
sleepless nights and endless marches? Was it for this that he had lain in
the hell of the drumfire and in the fever of gas attacks without wavering,
always thoughtful of his one duty to preserve the fatherland from the enemy
Verily these heroes deserved a headstone: 'Thou Wanderer who
comest to Germany, tell those at home that we lie here, true to the fatherland
and obedient to duty.'
And what about those at home-?
And yet, was it only our own sacrifice that we had to weigh
in the balance? Was the Germany of the past less precious? Was there no
obligation toward our own history? Were we still worthy to relate the glory
of the past to ourselves? And how could this deed be justified to future
Miserable and degenerate criminals!
The more I tried to achieve clarity on the monstrous event in
this hour, the more the shame of indignation and disgrace burned my brow.
What was all the pain in my eyes compared to this misery?
There followed terrible days and even worse nights-I knew that
all was lost. Only fools, liars, and criminals could hope in the mercy of
the enemy. In these nights hatred grew in me, hatred for those responsible
for this deed.
In the days that followed, my own fate became known to me.
I could not help but laugh at the thought of my own future which
only a short time before had given me such bitter concern. Was it not ridiculous
to expect to build houses on such ground? At last it became clear to me
that what had happened was what I had so often feared but had never been
able to believe with my emotions.
Kaiser William II was the first German Emperor to hold out a
conciliatory hand to the leaders of Marxism, without suspecting that scoundrels
have no honor. While they still held the imperial hand in theirs, their
other hand was reaching for the dagger.
There is no making pacts with Jews; there can only be the hard:
I, for my part, decided to go into politics.
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