« VorigeDoorgaan »
terests lie not on the sea but on terra firma. Self-preservation is more important than glory. The Emperor has started Germany on her 'new course,' on the trans-maritime course, which broke up the Triple Alliance, created the Triple Entente, and threatens Germany's future. His picturesque dictum,
Germany's future lies upon the water,' could appear logical only to those who forgot Germany's position on land. It has, of course, become the watch word of the German officials whom the Emperor has appointed-he would appoint no Chancellor opposed to his naval policy-and so Germany is throwing away the substance for the shadow.
Bismarck was constantly haunted by the thought of the formation of a great European coalition against Germany. This will be seen from his Memoirs, and from many of his letters and conversations. Bismarck's worst fear may be realised before long. Germany's post-Bismarckian diplomacy is doing its best to destroy the work of the great Chancellor. It has already destroyed Germany's security on the Continent. Yet there is no sign that the 'new course will be abandoned. During twenty-two years of post-Bismarckian government German diplomacy has achieved nothing tangible, except failure. Its incessant and neurotic activity in all parts of the world has given to Germany a few worthless colonial possessions, but it should not be forgotten that the bulk of her colonies were peacefully acquired by Bismarck.
The same hand which has directed Germany's foreign policy with such marked lack of foresight and ability has directed her military and naval policy as well. For geographical reasons Germany's strategical position is precarious. Situated between France and Russia, she must be able to protect herself against an almost simultaneous attack upon her eastern and her western frontiers. Neither France nor Russia is similarly situated. France need protect only her eastern, and Russia her western, frontier against invasion. Therefore, the problem of mobilisation and defence is far more difficult for Germany than for her great neighbours. In view of the possibility that at the critical moment Austria might not aid Germany, Bismarck wished Germany to be so strong as to be able to hold her own singlehanded against France and Russia combined. This will be seen from his speeches. Therefore he worked for the steady expansion of the army and neglected the navy. But in matters of defence Bismarck's policy has been thrown to the winds. Guided by the maxim Germany's future lies upon the water,' the leaders of the new course have been so anxious to strengthen the navy that the German Army has been neglected
both quantitatively and qualitatively. The following figures tell their own tale :
Expenditure on the Expenditure on the
659,970,000 212,628,000 1904
697,126,000 231,483,000 1906
752,640,000 245,473,000 1907
827,459,000 337,708,000 1909
854,784,000 405,568,000 1910
During the ten years 1901-1910 the naval expenditure of Germany has increased by more than 120 per cent. During the same period the expenditure on the army has increased by only 20 per cent. From 1901-1904 and from 1909-1910 the German military expenditure decreased. For Germany, which borders upon three great Powers, and which may conceivably be attacked simultaneously on several sides by a combination of Powers, the army is evidently a more important means of defence than the navy, for by sea no vital part of Germany can be touched. It appears, therefore, that Germany's expenditure on the navy has been comparatively extravagant, and that on her army scarcely sufficient. That impression is strengthened if we compare the rank and file of Germany's military and naval forces, for such a comparison yields the following results :
Rank and File of Rank and File of
German Nury 1901
According to the German Constitution every German citizen able to bear arms has to bear arms. Germany's population came in 1900 to 56,367,178 people. In 1910 it was 64,896,881 people, having increased by a little more than 8,500,000. It used to be the rule in Germany that a fixed proportion of the population, about 1.1 per cent., belonged to the standing army. That was the proportion in 1901, as a glance at the foregoing table shows. Between 1901 and 1910 the German Army ought to have been increased, in the normal course, by about 93,000 men, which is equal to 1.1 per cent. on the 8,500,000 people by whom the population has increased. But instead of adding 93,000 men to the standing army, Germany has added to it only 18,000, or but one-fifth of the normal number.
The German authorities tried to economise on the army by keeping its strength low. For instance, recently Germany raised a large number of companies armed with machine guns, partly by taking the necessary men from the infantry, and partly by reducing the horse artillery, losing thus twenty batteries. The reduction of the infantry, and especially of the artillery, has been much deplored by German military men.
How great the neglect of the German Army has been, and how insufficient is its strength, can be shown to any layman. The German race is at least as able to bear arms as the French race. Germany has a population of 66,000,000, France has a population of only 38,000,000. From these figures one might conclude that Germany should have a standing army at least 50 per cent. larger than that of France. However, a glance at the reference books shows that the standing armies of France and Germany are very nearly equally strong. This surprising result is easy to explain. The French train in the army all meus able to bear arms, whilst the Germans train only two-thirds of the men able to bear arms and dismiss the remaining third for the sake of economy, spending the money saved on the navy.
Many leading Germans have become alarmed at the neglect of the Germany Army, and especially at the insufficiency of its numbers, a defect which is particularly dangerous in view of Germany's isolation. General von Bernhardi wrote in Mittler's Almanach : 'Of our young men of twenty years we put, in 1909, only 52.7 per cent. into the army, although of the 47.3 per cent. rejected only 6.54 per cent. were physically or morally unfit. Therefore Germany rejected 47.3 per cent. of her young men. How different is the action of France ! France recruited in 1908 81.19 per cent. of her young men.
Of the remaining 18.81 per cent. 10.31 per cent. were unfit for military duty.' He complained that universal national service had fallen in disuse, although it is enjoined by the German Constitution. Major-General von Voss complained in the same book : 'France is the only country in the world which has introduced a system of real national service. In 1909 France put into the army 247,255 recruits, whilst Germany put in only 267,283, although the population of Germany is by 25,000,000 larger than that of France.' In Der Tag of the 10th of January 1912 General von Loebell complained that Germany raised only forty-four recruits per 10,000 of population, whilst France raised no less than sixty-three recruits per 10,000 of population. A leading article in Die Post of the
9th of January 1912 complained that the German Army was, in numbers, commensurate to a nation of 45,000,000 people, but not of 65,000,000. Many of the leading men in Germany have become so alarmed at the neglect of the army, and at the Government's unwillingness to strengthen it sufficiently, that, on the model of the German Navy League, a great Army League, the Wehrverein, has been founded, which is intended to force the Government to increase the army very greatly, by means of a great popular agitation. In consequence of this influential agitation, the Government was forced to act, and in the middle of April the German Government demanded an increase of 29,000 men in the peace strength of the army. The greatness of this sudden increase shows how much the army has been neglected.
Not only quantitatively but qualitatively as well has the German Army suffered during the new course.' German generals complain that promotions are made less by merit and more by favour than in former times. Similar complaints are heard in most Government offices. They complain that the officers are no longer as good as they used to be. Owing to the rise in wages the German Army can no longer obtain a sufficient number of good non-commissioned officers. The German war material also is scarcely up to date. The military outfit of France is superior to that of Germany. According to Lieutenant-Colonel Beyel, of the French artillery, and many other experts, the German artillery is inferior to the French. The tactics of the German Army have become antiquated. According to various German writers Germany has failed to learn the lessons of the Boer war and of the Russo-Japanese war. Major Hoppenstedt published in 1910 a book, Sind wir Kriegsfertig ? in which he showed that the German Army is too much occupied with barracks-square drill and too little with warlike training. Many officers attribute the neglect of the army to the influence of the Emperor, who is severely criticised. William the First was a soldier by nature. The army was his principal interest. He did not understand the navy. He tolerated no flatterers, and knew no favouritism. He worked incessantly on the improvement of the army. William the Second has made the navy his hobby, and attends to the army perfunctorily, and many say that it is little better managed than his Foreign Office.
In 1911, during the time of the Morocco crisis, the German Government was very politely, but very firmly, informed by the Russian Government that a German attack upon France would immediately lead to a Russian attack upon Germany, while the language of Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George left no doubt in Germany's mind regarding the attitude of Great Britain. As, in such a contingency, the support of Austria-Hungary would
have been more than doubtful, Germany found herself isolated and checkmated. An imprudent step on the part of her diplomacy or a chance shot at Agadir or elsewhere might have had the most disastrous consequences to Germany. The Government began to recognise that Germany might be attacked on three sides, that the army had been neglected for years, that the discreet but unheeded warnings of Germany's most experienced generals had been justified, that Germany's anti-British policy had isolated her and jeopardised her position. How very seriously Germany's military position has deteriorated during the last few years may be seen from the fact that the same people who used to discuss an invasion of England by a German army are now discussing the invasion of Germany by a British army. Defence Bills were hastily drafted. Some of the wisest Germans pleaded that Germany's whole efforts should be concentrated upon the neglected army which was vital to its existence, that an AngloGerman understanding should be sought, that England should not be provoked by additional naval armaments. However, the navy influences proved victorious. The German Navy was increased
The new Navy Bill provided for three large ships and 15,000 more sailors, increasing them to 80,000. The increase seemed small at first sight and attracted little attention. English writers, who had carelessly read the text of the new German Navy Bill, told us that the German fleet in permanent commission would be increased from 17 to 25 battleships. That increase is serious enough. However, closer examination of that Bill reveals the startling and disquieting fact that Germany will in a short time have not less than 38 large ships in permanent readiness which, at a moment's notice, can act as a striking force. According to the Navy Bill of 1900 and its various amendments, Germany will shortly have 61 large ships which, when approaching obsolescence, will automatically be replaced by Dreadnoughts. As the official life of the ships will probably again be shortened, I estimate that, twelve years hence, Germany will have 61 Dreadnoughts and more than 100,000 sailors. Are Englishmen aware that Great Britain will have to provide then, according to the principle of two keels to one, 122 Dreadnoughts a'nd 250,000 sailors ? As Great Britain is not willing to lose her naval supremacy without a struggle, Germany's naval policy is bound to increase Anglo-German tension still further, and to strengthen the bond between Great Britain and France and between Great Britain and Russia, to Germany's harm. In consequence of Germany's action more far-reaching diplomatic arrangements than those existing between Great Britain and France and Great Britain and Russia may become necessary.