Karma of Untruthfulness I
11 December 1916, Dornach
Before continuing with the discussion we started a week ago, I wish to say once again that, if misunderstandings are to be avoided, on no account are judgements which are based on facts to be taken as something aimed at a nation as a whole or a nation as such. It is a total misunderstanding when again and again generalizations are made by applying to whole nations something that has been said about actual, real factors, such as personalities. Something is said about a personality who stands, or seems to stand, as a representative for a particular nation; then others identify with this personality by saying: I, too, belong to this nation. Most people have no idea what is going on when they do this. They are talking in pitch darkness. What is to happen with people's judgements if they make them on the basis of empty phrases without being able to pinpoint anything, because such judgements do not touch on any kind of actual reality?
I intend, so far as is possible, to direct the eye of your soul to three things. First I want to give you some understanding — of course it can only be some understanding — of the great spiritual streams that underlie current events. Then I want to show how these streams are working in different places and how they either work through people with the help of associations, brotherhoods or whatever, or more or less consciously through individuals. Finally, I shall indicate how to discern those characteristic elements which are crucial for an understanding of how the events of the physical plane can be explained out of a wider context.
Let us first adopt a somewhat higher standpoint so that we can encompass in our view that wider context. We find that many things have changed in proportion, now that we no longer see them as a chance patchwork of odd facts. For the history of mankind — even in its most painful events — is guided and led by spiritual impulses. But these spiritual impulses also work against each other and people stand within streams which often contradict one another. It is too easy to think that the wisdom-filled world order will sort everything out. If this were so, there would not exist in the entire wide sweep of the physical world something that in fact does exist: human freedom. On the other hand, however, there do exist impulses of necessity, great karmic impulses which work in everything, and in our present considerations we shall particularly take into account the working of these karmic impulses. At the same time, though, we have to deal with the details and pay attention to the way in which affairs develop when there is a particularly great contrast at work which is significant for the continuing evolution of mankind. One such contrast is that which exists between the West and the East in European culture, and I have described to you what has developed in the West and also what lives in the East as a folk element for the future. These are real forces that are at work. It is true that most people know nothing of these real forces, but certain individuals have always been able to learn something about them.
Two things are possible. Either people know nothing of these real forces; in such cases it can easily happen that, through lack of awareness, without being able to do much about it in the ordinary sense, they become unconscious tools by letting themselves be used by others who, in their turn, are more or less swept away in the current and whose working is a kind of combination between the regular streams and their own egoism, their own ambition. These people are able to influence, by suggestion, those who are unobservant.
Or the opposite can happen; something that has been so important and significant in European life during recent decades: that there are individuals who, by some means or other, learn through the secret brotherhoods about the spiritual forces that exist and consciously misuse this knowledge for some other ends. Perhaps their goal is not even an end that deserves a morally damning judgement. Yet it is like playing with fire when people, who do not know how to treat spiritual impulses, work to turn these impulses in a particular direction. Such a situation arose in the second half of the nineteenth century, when various more or less secret brotherhoods, who were strongly influenced by the European periphery, formed themselves in Central Europe. They worked to a high degree with occult means. One of these was the ‘Omladina’, which achieved a great deal through the impulses living in it.
The Omladina was an association that worked amongst its members through the means of certain rites such as are used in the different degrees of these secret brotherhoods. In Central Europe the Omladina formed several extremely secret brotherhoods which were spread particularly over the various Slav areas, but also the Balkan states, and which actually worked with occult means in their ceremonial rites. They achieved a great deal until by chance, as is said — but only as is said — the whole matter came out into the open through a court case in Bohemia. These societies, all of whom maintained links with one another, burrowed and stirred a great deal under ground, and behind masks they continued in existence. One such mask was the much-mentioned ‘Narodna Odbrana’ in Serbia, which was named so frequently at the beginning of today's painful events. This stream, which had already flowed through something that worked with occult means and which encompassed people who knew about such things and others who knew nothing, gave the impetus for much that has taken place in south-eastern Europe during recent decades. In the western, particularly in the English brotherhoods, there was much talk, during the last decades of the nineteenth century, of the coming world war, and it was always pointed out how important would be the events that were to take place in the Balkan countries.
Let me say something more to introduce this subject. For if we investigate only the spiritual aspect of things we lack the basis on which to frame the right questions, and we then do not know how the spiritual happenings are mirrored below, on the physical plane. This is the important question I now wish to develop further for you, after having yesterday called upon you to ponder deeply about the great contradiction of the Mystery of Golgotha. What I have to describe as an introduction will serve as a basis for a number of topics, and I want to stress yet again that I beg you not to believe that what I have to say is in any way aimed at a particular nation as such. Nobody can have more sympathy than I feel for the unfortunate Serbian people. Not only have they endured so much that is painful in recent times but, above all, they have for decades been the plaything of the most varied elements which have made use of what lives in this nation, for purposes of which it can surely be said: They are behind a misuse which is intended to turn those real impulses of mankind's evolution, which live in the fifth post-Atlantean period, in a particular direction.
I shall not go further back than the second half of the nineteenth century. Little is discussed nowadays which can really throw light on these matters. I shall give only a sketch, and in a sketch some things are described only in outline. I know how little inclination there is to go into the real facts, but some of them at least must be made known. So I shall go back only as far as Michael Obrenovich, who played an important part as the ruler of Serbia in the second half of the nineteenth century. He was an attractive personality of whom it can truly be said that he did not try to steer in an evil way those forces which are, of course, seen above all by one who belongs to a particular people. It is possible, out of national or individual egoism, to steer the impulses of a people in such a way that these impulses become grossly overstrained; in other words the individual folk impulse is pushed beyond the point at which it can remain in harmony with the impulses of mankind as a whole. It is extremely difficult to hit upon the right measure in this matter. In the case of Michael Obrenovich it was so that, on the whole, his ideas ran concurrently with the good European impulses. But he needed these good European impulses only so far as he could go as a good Serbian patriot. In order to understand a certain one-sidedness in Michael, you have to put yourself in Serbia's position. You could say that if a man like Michael Obrenovich lives out his patriotism in such a way, this way would certainly be comprehensible for others whose birth, inheritance and education have given them a similar patriotism for a different country. I need only quote a few words about the ideal of Michael Obrenovich written by one who knew him well. Milan Pirotsanatz says:
‘His political aim was not the creation of Greater Serbia but the formation of a confederation of southern Slavs under the hegemony of Serbia.’
So Michael was thinking of a Balkan confederation. This confederation was also discussed by those western European occultists who were informed and working in the very best way during the good period of western European occultism. And even though this ideal was opposed to those of many, it must be said that it was an ideal which was connected with certain real impulses of the fifth post-Atlantean period. Against this ideal of Michael Obrenovich there now rose up a greater part of Serbia's intelligentsia under the leadership of Jovan Ristic. From this Serbian intelligentsia there flowed an element that was different from that of Michael. Whereas his aim was to create a Balkan confederation out of the Slav forces of the Balkan countries without any assistance from Austria and Russia, that of the group led by Jovan Ristic and others was, at all costs, to place Serbia at the service of what came out of Russia, infiltrating the Serbian soul by means of suggestion and with the help of the testament of Peter the Great, in order to create a framework for Russianism.
The group influenced by the Omladina originated the slogan which claimed that a movement must be started which would work against Michael's efforts, and also that, at all costs, Russia must play the same role in connection with Serbia that France had played for Piedmont when the new Italy was created. Just as France had given her assistance when Piedmont was transformed into modern Italy, so Russia should serve Serbia, so that out of Serbia on the other side of the Adriatic could emerge something new, but only under the guidance of what was to be included in the mysterious impulses of the testament of Peter the Great.
There are altogether about six million Serbs. Only three-and-a-half million of these live in Serbia and Montenegro; two-and-a-half million migrated to Austria earlier on. All these are surrounded and mixed with four million Catholic and half a million Mohammedan southern Slavs. Obviously clashes were inevitable. Just imagine the spiritual chaos surging and mingling there, and what it must have been like in this chaos to guide a particular movement such as that of the Omladina. Various things can be done if the possibilities are utilized properly. And those who use such means in the way the Omladina did, always pit one stream against another so that something else emerges.
Thus it came about that Michael Obrenovich met with terrible opposition, and that this opposition found an effective way of working against him by organizing a hostile movement with the corresponding hostile press outside Serbia, in Hungary. Since the Omladina existed not only within Serbia but also maintained connections in all the states of Central Europe, it is easy to understand how it was possible to silence it within Serbia if necessary and instead organize all sorts of things from the outside. In this way, in case anything should leak out, the possibility remained to be able to say: That other country organized it. This possibility always had to be maintained.
In addition to all this, Michael Obrenovich was deeply loved by his people; they loved him with elemental force. Such a force is also an occult power. To counter this love of the people it was necessary either to set up an equally strong love in another direction — but this was not all that easy to do — or to bring about something revolutionary. So it came about that to all the endeavours mounted by the Omladina was added the dynastic dispute between the Obrenovich and the Karageorgevich families. The Karageorgevich faction were based in Geneva, were in debt in a number of places all over Europe, and coveted the Serbian throne for themselves. They had the opportunity of making the acquaintance of all sorts of societies in Europe — there were many — and also of finding out what their impulses were. By working hand in hand, especially when you have at your disposal the means I have described, you can achieve a great deal. You organize things in such a way that different things can be brought about from various different places which have to be situated in different countries. Thus Alexander Karageorgevich set up an administrator for his affairs in Szegedin in Hungary. This administrator was — shall we say — a banker. There was nothing much for him to administer, but one day he exercised his influence on a group of convicts — these things are done with the help of convicts or other such elements — and on 10 June 1868 these convicts murdered Michael. On 10 June 1868 Michael Obrenovich was murdered.
His only male heir, a nephew, was a very wretched fellow and hardly more than a boy, so now all the power fell into the hands of Jovan Ristic, who was very much a certain type of politician, a great politician from one point of view. Since he represented all these things in everything he did, it is possible to retrace the external paths he trod in order to achieve his internal aims. First and foremost he established, as a supreme principle, that Serbia was now to follow only those impulses which came from Russia, but that this need not necessarily always be done openly. If the Russian impulses could be better served by making concessions and establishing friendly neighbourly relations with the Habsburg monarchy, then there was no harm in undertaking some project together with Austria against Russia once in a while. In reality, though, everything was to be done in the service of Russia and this meant, on occasions, going along with the others. This was the supreme principle for Ristic.
At first his main concern was to establish himself and gain supporters. This was difficult, since the Serbs did not love Milan Obrenovich, and of course no one must be allowed even to guess at the secret threads which connected Ristic himself with the murder of Michael Obrenovich. One can put a great distance between oneself and events and yet be very close to them. Then the tracks have to be obliterated. He did this by bringing it about in some way that rumours were spread throughout Serbia claiming that the murder of Michael Obrenovich had been plotted in Hungary and the Magyars were the guilty party. This was believed without question in the circles which were important to him.
Into the stream about which we have just been speaking flowed yet another, founded by ten people in the year 1880. The intention was that it should work in harmony with other European streams, so it was was numbered, drafted the manifesto of this ‘Brotherhood of Ten’. It included the words:
‘A confederation of all the Serbs presupposes the destruction of Turkey and the destruction of Austria-Hungary, the removal of statehood from Montenegro and the freedom of the peoples of Serbia.’
This, then, was the quite definite manifesto of these ‘Ten’, worked out in 1880. The subsequent plan was to weave this manifesto more and more closely together with the radical stream of Ristic, for he was now the right person at the right place: Since Milan was a minor, Ristic held the power. The two fitted very well together. Certain streams always worked to win the right man at the right place in order to achieve as much as they could.
The university professor Jovan Skerlic, who was also connected with this radical stream wrote, for instance: ‘The freedom of the Serb people and the existence of Austria-Hungary are mutually exclusive.’ I wish to speak only of facts and do not deny that a manifesto such as this is perfectly possible for a Serb from his own point of view. When Milan Obrenovitch attained his majority, circumstances brought it about that he wanted to free himself from this radical stream. He wanted to carry on with Serb patriotism, but in agreement with Austria-Hungary. So as time went on these two streams proceeded to weave in and out of each other: On the one hand the rather weak, though definitely existing impulses which emanated from Milan Obrenovich, and on the other everything that was connected with the pretendership of the Karageorgevich family. It is worth noting that while nobody from the Obrenovich dynasty was invited to the coronation of Alexander III of Russia, Peter Karageorgevich, the pretender who later occupied the throne of Serbia, was present.
The bonds between Russia and the Balkans were to be tied even more tightly through the marriage of Peter Karageorgevich with the eldest daughter of Nikita of Montenegro who, however, did not particularly relish this plan since he himself wanted to assume the Serbian throne after the departure of the Obrenovich. However, the Russians offered a million as dowry. Of course old Nikita pocketed this; he was rather partial to such little tricks.
I shall not trouble you further with external history at this point, except to mention that, after Serbia had lost the unfortunate war with Bulgaria which took place at this time, her realm was only preserved by the decisive intervention of Austria-Hungary. The Omladina party could not have cared less about this. Their sole aim was to support the stream which was working to imprison the Slav element in Russianism. This party worked very well indeed. Some remarkable statistics were compiled by Serbs, not foreigners. Statistics can, of course, be made to say what you want them to say, but in this case even if half the claims are disregarded they are still significant enough. It was maintained that this Omladina party had been able to spread far and wide because they had carried out 364 political assassinations between 1883 and 1887 in order to rid themselves of those who would have acted as troublemakers if they had been on the physical plane while the party was expanding. As I said, this claim is made by Serbs, not foreigners: 364 political murders between 1883 and 1887. Even if only half is true, it is surely enough.
In the nineties this party underwent a further considerable expansion. After a long period of systematic work it took a mighty step forward when, on a certain day during the nineties, every Serbian town suddenly blossomed with flags. This caused great concern in Austria. What had happened? It was the day on which the alliance between Russia and France had been sealed! During the same week, behind the backs of the Obrenovich dynasty, one hundred thousand rifles had been ordered from France for the radical party.
It was during this period that a personality appeared on the scene through whom a great many influences worked, but for whose position it was extremely difficult to gain agreement from leading quarters. She had been singled out by Russia for certain purposes. However, the party which was the continuation of the Omladina was embarrassed to use, as an important tool, a personality of this type and in this kind of position. This was really going too far for the Serbs. I am speaking of Draga Masin whom Alexander Obrenovich was allowed to elevate to the position of his mistress in 1886. This person appeared on the scene at this time, and a friend of the Obrenovich dynasty, Vladan Georgevich, wrote a very significant and beautiful book from which a great deal can be learned: The End of the Obrenovich Dynasty. I recommend particularly the chapter which describes the remarkable weaving of the threads of world history, even though Georgevich half unconsciously only hints at this. He tells of an extraordinary visit he had to make to Draga Masin who was, of course, an important personage. He shows how the enchantment with which she had to inveigle those whom it was necessary for her to inveigle emanated from a particular blend of perfumes, which was suitably adjusted to the individuality of the person who was to be influenced by suggestion. If you read with understanding this chapter in Vladan Georgevich's thick book you will gain from his veiled description many hints — in the occult sense, too — regarding the field of lesser magic. You will be astonished to discover how much can be achieved, when those who want to achieve something remain in the background and leave what has first to be done to the seductive charms of a woman skilled in the art of perfume blending. Even in the seventeenth century this played a considerable part in the politics of many a royal court. The history of some periods cannot really be written except by someone who is an expert on the effects of perfumes in history at different times and periods.
Then an event took place which throws some light on a number of strange karmic connections. The party I have described to you continued to work. A point was reached when, once more, by means of a plot such as that mentioned earlier, an attempt was made to assassinate Milan, who had long since abdicated but still played a role, and through whom, moreover, a number of roles were indeed still played. One of those condemned to death in consequence was Nikola Pasic; you know the name. He owed his deliverance solely to the fact that Emperor Franz Josef intervened on his behalf. You remember, Pasic is the name of the man who was Prime Minister of Serbia when the war broke out.
All these events took place because it was necessary for something to happen. The desired goals could not be achieved while the Obrenovich dynasty remained. So Karageorgevich would have to be established on the throne under Russian protection. But Draga Masin, who had meanwhile married Alexander, also stood under Russian protection. She had in the meantime become a thorn in the flesh of the radical party, because they had come to regard her as a disgrace. All this had been reckoned with, because those who had put her in this position in the first place were not concerned with establishing this charming person, gifted in the art of perfume-blending, upon the throne of Serbia, but rather with making the Obrenovich dynasty look impossible through its representative Alexander. So she had to be made to look ridiculous and impossible. Draga Masin had to be made Queen so that she could be murdered. Those whose purposes were to be served were those for whom, outwardly, Draga Masin was extremely awkward. The whole comedy had to be played in order to get rid of her, and it was Draga who had to play it. I shall not mention details except to say that they even included the pretended imminent birth of a future heir to the throne, though such a one was, in fact, never on the way. There should be mention, though, of the fact that the most extraordinary personalities were taken on, whose task it was to set up connections between Geneva, where the Karageorgevich family dwelt, and the Balkans, and also various other connections.
Peter Karageorgevich had been instructed to remain quietly in Geneva, without stirring. In contrast, there existed in various places a whole series of intermediaries whose task it was to run the affair in accordance with Russia's wishes, and also to give it a face. I should like to point out here that there is often no need to attach any special significance to those who work in connection with these things. For example, there was an important intermediary from Montenegro who played a large part in the various activities undertaken jointly by Russia and Karageorgevich. He himself was not in the least interested in serving the radical Serbian party, or anyone else if it comes to that. He showed this later, in particular by offering for sale in Vienna in 1907 the numerous letters he had exchanged with Peter Karageorgevich in this fateful matter. So poor old Karageorgevich himself had to cough up 150,000 francs in order to buy them back.
I only want to touch on these things. When one day the history of these events is written — and it will be written — much light will be thrown on many matters by the chapter which mentions what took place then in the Hopfner Restaurant in Vienna, in Linz on 22 January 1903, and in the Biegler Hotel in Mödling in April; then it will be made known how the document came into being in which Karageorgevich committed himself not to punish the murderers of Alexander Obrenovich and Draga Masin, if he should come to the throne. Particularly important will be the revelation of what it was that Peter Karageorgevich signed on 22 January 1903, and of what was discussed by certain officers serving this cause when they met in the Kolaratz Restaurant in Belgrade.
After all these preliminaries the murder was committed in Belgrade in July 1903; it became known to the world in a different way. An important part was played in this murder by a certain Lieutenant Voja Tankosic. It is not without significance that the leader of one of the groups who were distributed in various places, in order to carry out the murders of numerous supporters of Alexander Obrenovich and Draga Masin, was Lieutenant Voja Tankosic. For perhaps you know that, according to an enquiry carried out in Austria, a certain Major Tankosic is named as one of those who organized the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. It is the same Voja Tankosic, now promoted to the rank of major, who then had the task of murdering the two Lunjevitza brothers, the brothers of Draga Masin and then, as a major, played the role now known to the world in connection with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. It is important to see in this way, by means of real examples, how events are interconnected, and to indicate how they continue to work in subsequent events.
Once the dynasty of Obrenovich was out of the way, it was a matter of finding a means of putting Karageorgevich on the throne of Serbia. Pasic, for instance, though he had his finger in every pie, was not yet ready to agree to the ascent of Karageorgevich to the throne; at that time he wanted to put an Englishman on the Serbian throne. Even in eastern Europe there were differences of opinion. It is historically documented, for instance, that when the death of the last Obrenovich became known, the Grand Duchess Militza was heard to say: Let us drink to the health of King Nikita of Serbia. So there was an inclination in this circle to put Nikita of Montenegro on the Serbian throne. But when the time came to make the final decision Tcharikoff, the Russian attaché in Belgrade, said, literally: I have come in order to inform you that my government will only give its consent if Prince Karageorgevich is elected unanimously as King of Serbia at tomorrow's election.
I have now pointed out a number of facts in order to show you how things work when they are channelled into particular streams. It is necessary to have a concrete idea of what is going on in the world. Now let me proceed by what might be called the symptomatic method. We have to look into all sorts of things in order to gain a complete picture which can lead us a step up to the fundamental truths. Once again in connection with all this I must stress: You may have a standpoint, and any standpoint is understandable; but you must then be aware that this or that standpoint is the one you have chosen; you cannot then form judgements as though your standpoint were higher.
Recently I have often had to ask myself what might be the origin of certain judgements which crop up again and again. When I began these lectures I told you how painful it was for me to meet in a certain direction only unfriendly or at best uncomprehending judgements, and I said that the very people who make these unfriendly judgements with a particular bias are the ones who ascribe to themselves the capacity to judge things objectively. There is no need to look far to find the unfriendly judgements I mean. I must stress that I can understand every standpoint; but I cannot understand it when certain judgements which are anything but objective are claimed to be founded on an objective basis.
For instance, if it is stated that the diplomatic documents already known are of crucial value for deciding who is to blame for the outbreak of the war, then there can be no objection. But there must be every objection to the conclusions so often drawn from them. It is necessary to study these documents far more thoroughly than is usually done if a valid judgement is to be reached. I might tell you that I have closely studied all the Blue, Red and White Papers many more than a dozen times and yet I could still justify any number of judgements based on what they tell me. If only it had been possible to make proper use of the actual facts! All in all, I must say that the judgements I hear remind me of long discussions which end with the words: Never mind, the Jew will be burnt! Whether people are more or less intelligent, the voice that always sounds the loudest says: Never mind, the German will be burnt! And since an objective foundation can never be found for such grave allegations as these, the only thing to do is to accept that we are faced with a most important question: Why is it that such a large proportion of people forms judgements which can be summarized, if not literally then from their general content, in the words: Never mind, the German will be burnt?
Many elements flow together in this judgement, especially because it is pointless to bring out one or another aspect which allows the basis on which this judgement is founded to speak for itself. And still the question I am asking is in the deepest sense of the word a question of the heart and a question of the soul. I am aware of all the notions that arose when from a certain necessity I wrote my pamphlet Gedanken während der Zeit des Krieges (Thoughts during Wartime), which was intended, as it says in the subtitle, for Germans and those who do not believe they have to hate them. I know that it expresses thoughts — do not think me immodest when I say this — which some day, however far distant, will be recognized by history as those thoughts which ought to be taken into consideration. But I also know that for inner spiritual reasons certain things will not be possible until, at least in certain quarters, there grows a sense for the rightness of these thoughts. Those who do not wish to be convinced by the inner gravity of such thoughts will find themselves facing lessons from many sides.
One important lesson will be shared with the world when the manifestos of such people as Lloyd George come to be realized. Possibly many other lessons will be needed as well. Certain people in the periphery will also be faced with such lessons. Much could be carried out differently if only people would not allow themselves to be so very stupefied by the judgements I have described. What I am telling you is really true. Many a solution will come about because the judgement reached in certain quarters will be steered towards the direction just mentioned. What purpose is served if an Englishman gives his support to a particular personality through whom certain influences are working, and if this Englishman is then personally offended when that personality is characterized in an objective way? English culture itself has brought it about that political thinking can be formed in a particular way, and it is because of this that much that serves certain purposes can be concealed behind this thinking. The extraordinary situation is: that for certain impulses which stem from western Europe the political thinking of English culture must be regarded as the least suitable instrument.
It really is so that, on the one hand, there exists the task which the English people are called upon to perform during the fifth post-Atlantean period, and yet this purpose is constantly being thwarted from quite another direction. And though there are indeed beautiful voices in the orchestra, as I described the day before yesterday, there are also a good many others to be heard as well. Let me draw your attention to some remarks made by Lord Rosebery in 1893, not because they are particularly important but because they are a symptomatic expression of something that does actually exist. Lord Rosebery said:
‘It is said that our Empire is large enough and that we possess sufficient territories ... We must, however, examine not only what we need today but also what we shall need in the future ... We must not forget that it is a part of our duty and our heritage to ensure that the world bears the stamp of our people and not that of any other ...’
It is important to know that such voices, too, join in the orchestra of the world. Lord Rosebery himself was not particularly important in this direction, but the way he spoke in this tone was a good example of what I wanted to point out. It is important that a pretension of this kind should ring forth, not from a people but from an individual who is backed by various concealed groups, a pretension that the whole world must be stamped with the mark of the English spirit. It is nothing other than an echo of what had always been taught in some secret brotherhoods in words such as the following: The Latin element is now decadent; it may be left to itself and it will trouble us no more. The fifth post-Atlantean period belongs to the English-speaking peoples alone; it is for them to make the world into something which stems from them.
The firm doctrine which had come into being in the secret brotherhoods must be heard resounding in the words of Lord Rosebery; for we must learn to look in the right places. What happens outwardly might be quite a comedy. But we have to see through the comedy and not regard it as something that can bring blessing to the world.
If somebody defends the standpoint of Lord Rosebery, there is no need to enter into any discussion with him, for discussion is quite unnecessary in such matters. Neither is it possible to say that no one has the right to such a standpoint. Everyone has the right to take up Lord Rosebery's standpoint. But he ought then to say: My aim is to make the world English; and not: I am fighting for the freedom and rights of the small nations. This is what matters. It is not difficult to understand Lord Rosebery from his own standpoint. But someone who does not share this standpoint must, instead, take up another. In consequence, there is no agreement between these two standpoints, and the matter has to be balanced out by the means the world has at its disposal for such matters. Under certain circumstances such standpoints of necessity even lead to the outbreak of war. This is perfectly obvious, since it would otherwise be possible to demand that the opposition subject itself voluntarily to one's own standpoint. But if their standpoint prevents them from doing this, conflicts arise. So I am describing here only standpoints, for we are dealing not with objective judgements but simply with choosing between two possibilities.
I can, for instance, very well comprehend the standpoint of the French Minister Hanotaux expressed in his book on Fachoda and the partition of Africa. He says:
‘It is ten years since the work was completed; France has defended her position among the four world powers. She is at home in all quarters of the world. French is spoken, and will ever be spoken, in Africa, Asia, America and Oceania ... The seeds of mastery have been sown in every part of the globe. They will flourish under the protection of heaven.’
This standpoint, too, is perfectly comprehensible, yet obviously there could be collisions with other possible standpoints.
Now let us take another objective point into consideration. Bismarck never intended to follow a policy of colonialism. Germany had to be won over to adopt a colonial policy. She did not carry it on of her own accord but was induced to do so in a very peculiar manner from quite another side. I may go into this later. Anyway, it was certainly not in accordance with the character of the German people to bring about collisions in this respect. Fichte, in his famous speeches to the German nation, said expressly: Germany will never argue with a nation who speaks about the freedom of the seas while actually meaning that it intends to defend the seas against all comers. Above all it was known in France that the tendency was not to oppose the aim expressed by Hanotaux but to let France pursue in peace her path as a colonizing nation. In Minister Hanotaux's book there is also the following passage:
‘It will be a matter for history to decide what was the leading idea of Germany and her Government during the complicated dispute which accompanied the partition of Africa and the final phase of French colonial policy. It may be assumed that, to begin with, Bismarck and his politicians watched with satisfaction as France entered into distant and difficult enterprises which for years ahead would fully occupy the attention of country and Government alike. However, it is not certain that this calculation proved to be right in the long run, since Germany for her part eventually followed the same path, though rather too late, and attempted to win back the time lost. If this country, at her own discretion,’
Note that he says ‘at her own discretion’.
‘left the colonial initiative to others, she should not now be surprised that they took the best territories for themselves.’
Of course this standpoint is perfectly comprehensible, but it also contains the admission that Germany, at her own discretion, left the best territories to the colonial policy of France.
Please do not base any judgements on the details I am giving you, for not until I have gathered them all together will a total picture emerge.
Now let us ask how it is possible to construe — as is often done so utterly irresponsibly — any connection between the events of 24 and 25 July 1914 and those of the days that followed. You have no idea how excessively irresponsible it is to seek a simple continuity in these events, thus believing that without more ado the great World War came about, or had to come about, as a result of Austria's ultimatum to Serbia. There was a lot more to it than that; a great many things had to be in preparation for decades. It is necessary to develop an eye for all kinds of things that happened, and to pay attention to them. I should like to advise those gentlemen who simply make judgements about all the many books, as in the example I gave you, to do their reading, not in the way it is often done today but in such a way that they notice what things were at work. To do this, as you probably know, particular attention must be paid to a number of things. For the present I do not mind laying myself open to the accusation that I am making all sorts of statements that cannot easily be proved. But I can prove all these things quite well.
Read the reports of the conversations that took place in July 1914 and take note of how these conversations proceeded. In real life people's expressions also contribute to the actual words. In the case of politicians it is their expressions and gestures more than their words which sometimes really tell us what is meant; indeed often their words only serve to disguise what is actually being communicated. Moreover, reports are often more accurate as regards these incommunicables than they are in respect of the words.
So let me ask: Why did a personality such as Sasonov so obviously play two roles during all the negotiations? During the negotiations with the representatives of the Central Powers he plays the part of an extraordinarily agitated person who has to hold onto himself with all his might in order to remain calm, so that he gives the impression of one who has been rehearsed. Why does he play the part of apparently not listening and only saying what he has prepared beforehand, which never provides an answer to the questions he is actually asked?
Why does he play this part in the negotiations with the representatives sent by Austria, and why does he appear totally different when negotiating with the representatives of the Entente? Why does he listen to them? Why do we find, in the reports of what he said, sentences which were obviously first spoken by the representative of the Entente? Only compare the two! Why does he listen to the representatives of the Entente, and why does he know in advance what he is going to say when he is speaking with the representatives of Austria? With the latter he even went somewhat too far. During the visit of 24 July he said after the Austrian ambassador had only spoken a few preliminary words: There is no need for you to tell me all that; I know what you are going to say! He was embarrassed by what the ambassador wanted to say because his answer was already prepared. And why in this rehearsed speech did he emphasize so strongly that Austria must on no account demand the dissolution of the Narodna Odbrana — which, of course, continues the earlier endeavours of the Omladina? Just bear these questions in mind! Often it is necessary to ask negative questions.
Another example: The blame for the war is laid at the door of the German government. Against that, the question can be asked: What would have happened if what the German government had desired had come to pass, namely the localization of the war between Austria and Serbia? For even a child could tell by following the negotiations that it was the aim of the German government to localize the war between Austria and Serbia, and not to allow it to spread beyond the conflict between Austria and Serbia. So we can ask: What would have happened if events had gone as the German government wished? We should all answer this question conscientiously.There is another question which also requires a conscientious answer. In order to localize the war, one thing was necessary: Russia should have kept quiet; she should have refrained from interfering. If Russia had not interfered, the war could have been localized. Of course, other constraints play into this from other directions, but these constraints have nothing to do with the will of human beings or with the question of apportioning blame. Why, in the discussions between Sir Edward Grey and all the others, does the viewpoint of localization never put in an appearance, at least not seriously? Why, instead, even as early as 23 July, does the viewpoint arise: Russia must be satisfied? We never hear the viewpoint that Austria might be left alone with Serbia; always we hear that Russia cannot possibly be expected to leave Serbia alone. The viewpoint of localization was not brought up, even when Austria gave her binding promise not to attack the territorial integrity of Serbia. Is it possible to say that this was not believed? Even then they could have waited! It has happened before — only think of earlier events — that countries have been left to get on with their quarrel, and afterwards a conference has been called. Why does it immediately become the task of those with whom Sir Edward Grey speaks to keep on defining the problem as a Russian one? This is another question that must be answered by those who want to examine this affair conscientiously.
This now brings us to the important point of the relationship between Central Europe, England, America, and so on — in other words to everything that is connected with the words of Lord Rosebery, everything that proceeds from them and also what lies concealed behind them. We also come to the fear nations had of one another, that I described yesterday.
It would be going too far to explain this fully today; but I shall certainly have to go into it before bringing this discussion to the culmination it ought to reach. Let me merely remark that certain things happened from which the only sensible conclusion to be drawn later turned out to be the correct one, namely that behind those who were, in a way, the puppets there stood in England a powerful and influential group of people who pushed matters doggedly towards a war with Germany and through whom the way was paved for the world war that had always been prophesied. For of course the way can be paved for what it is intended should happen. So there arose in the minds of a number of people in Central Europe, particularly in Germany, the firm conviction which was connected with a strong fear, that a war in which Germany and England would confront each other would definitely be brought about at a suitable moment by a certain group in England. This had nothing to do with a longing to start a war with England at all costs. From the German standpoint such a longing would have been utter nonsense. Yet it was the case that even those who only saw things superficially recognized, as a result of various events, that a war was threatening to break out.
So let me draw your attention to another point that is important for the formation of judgements: Until 1908, or even 1909, there existed in England extensive circles quite close to King Edward VII, who considered it an impossibility that Russia should ever be allowed to approach Constantinople or enjoy free passage through the Dardanelles in the way she desired. But then an event took place which changed much during the course of only a few months. Two people spoke to one another one of whom understood a very great deal about interpreting the signs. This was the attempt to gain Austria's agreement to free Russian passage through the Dardanelles in compensation for the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was Russia's aim, and Izvolski, who is an intelligent man but thought himself even more intelligent than he really is, really believed at that time that he had in his hands Austria's agreement to this Russian demand, despite English endeavours to the contrary. But this was not the case, so another course had to be taken.
This was one of the important events. There were many others. Everything that has happened in recent years is full of deceptions, and many of these are to be found in the periphery. There is no escaping this fact. And when you have struggled honestly and fairly with the various papers, which of course only describe the final phases of the tragedy, when you have studied them, as I have, twelve, fifteen or even twenty times, it is impossible to avoid realizing how powerful was the group who, like an outpost for mighty impulses, stood behind the puppets in the foreground. These latter are, of course, perfectly honest people, yet they are puppets, and now they will vanish into obscurity so that Europe can start to convince herself of what is still to come.
Still, a situation had now been reached in Central Europe that prompted the question: Will it be possible for enough honest people to come to the surface through selection in order to overcome that powerful group, or not? Also, there were people who were worried because they foresaw that there would be a coalition between Russia, France and England if a war were to break out. I really wonder whether there is any need for surprise that these people were worried. There is much about which one may be surprised, but this particular thing really is not surprising. Those wise gentlemen who study all the official papers could, it seems to me, at least discover something that was even discovered by the author of that celebrated article which was awarded a prize by the University of Berne, namely, that for England's part the war was made absolutely unavoidable when Belgium's neutrality was violated. Absolutely everything points to the fact that there was no reason that could have been candidly presented to the English people. For the reasons that did exist could not on any account be mentioned! If any English minister had presented Parliament with the real reasons, he would have been swept away by public opinion. That is why Sir Edward Grey, for instance, had to give such peculiar speeches.
It is easy and reasonable to maintain that the English people did not want a war. Indeed it hardly needs saying, for it is obvious and everybody knows it. No one who really points to the true facts can maintain that the English people wanted such a war. On the contrary, anyone voicing the real reasons would have been swept away by public opinion. Something quite different was needed — a reason which the English people could accept, and that was the violation of Belgian neutrality. But this first had to be brought about. It is really true that Sir Edward Grey could have prevented it with a single sentence. History will one day show that the neutrality of Belgium would never have been violated if Sir Edward Grey had made the declaration that it would have been quite easy for him to make, if he had been in a position to follow his own inclination. But since he was unable to follow his own inclination but had to obey an impulse which came from another side, he had to make the declaration which made it necessary for the neutrality of Belgium to be violated. Georg Brandes pointed to this. By this act England was presented with a plausible reason. That had been the whole point of the exercise: to present England with a plausible reason! To the people who mattered, nothing would have been more uncomfortable than the non-violation of Belgian territory! Of course this does not apply to the people, nor to the majority in Parliament, but — well! — parliaments are parliaments!
All this had been in preparation for a long time, and some of it had leaked out after all. There were some people who had the most extraordinary experiences; for instance in April 1914 a German had a conversation in England in which he was given some strange information. I shall bring this up again in another connection. Since all this was going on it is understandable that some people were saying: We shall have to be prepared to find that what is worst for Germany will come from England.
Naturally these people then also began to discuss these things publicly in Germany, especially after the beginning of the new century. I shall now quote one of these voices. You will have to forgive me for quoting this particular voice, but nowadays one has to ask for forgiveness for so many things because so much that is peculiar is buzzing about in the world that one quite often has to speak in paradoxes in order to express the truth. I want to read you a passage from a book that was written in 1911 and has since become well-known. It discusses what threats Germany might have to face from England:
‘Nevertheless, English policies could also go in another direction so that, instead of a war, an agreement might be sought with Germany. Such a solution would certainly be preferable to us.’
These words appear in a well-known book by Bernhardi, Germany and the Next War. You know that, together with Treitschke, Bernhardi has achieved a certain renown abroad. He is less well-known in Germany, but there it is. Let me read you another passage from his book:
‘To increase her power by territorial gains in Europe itself is probably totally out of the question for Germany under the present circumstances. The eastern territories lost to Russia could only be regained as a consequence of an extensive war which we would have to win; and even then they would continue to be a cause of further wars.’
In other words the author considers that to seek territorial gains from Russia is the least desirable of all possible courses of action!
‘Even to regain what was once southern Prussia, which was amalgamated with Prussia when Poland was partitioned for the second time, would be a highly doubtful exercise on account of the Polish population.’
This is quoted from a book written in 1911 which states that among all the things Germany ought to do should be included the firm determination not to start any territorial wars in Europe. This passage is from the book by Bernhardi, and for people on the periphery who speak about him it would be more sensible if they would look without prejudice at what the book actually says and, above all, seek to discover the context in which things are said. Though much is clumsily expressed in this book, a closer study of it would at least reveal that it would be more sensible to take things as they are, rather than in the way in which they are taken today.