Betrachtungen ueber Krieg und Frieden
Observations on war and peace:
It is remarkable in several ways that one of the most outstanding politicians of Bavaria, Reichsrat Baron v. Wurtzburg, who lost his only son, the last of his family line, in the war, and is himself fighting at the front, wrote such a lengthy essay for the Allgemeine Zeitung on the issues of the foreign and internal policy of Germany.
Without being characterized simply as a form of pacifism, the wish for peace, which is shared by the rest of the world, can be reconciled with German honor.
If one wants to bring contending parties closer to each other, one must seek to find a common ground on which the conflicting opinions could be united. What can be considered as something common to the quarrelling parties at the present moment? Despite the vehemence and passion of the struggle, surely one can observe that among all reasonable people of warring nations there is presently a desire for an imminent end of the war. Where this desire is not apparent, we are dealing with people who are not rational, but are blinded by passion, or who do not believe what they are shouting out into the world. But those who wish to end the war disagree about the ways in which the fulfillment of this desire would be possible. Some believe the end of the war will only be achievable by crushing their opponents. Others consider peaceful negotiations to be appropriate. In my view, the latter way, neutral negotiations, should not be rejected outright. One has the impression that there is too much talk about the defeat and destruction of the opponent, that hatred and passion are being kindled. Take for example the statesman, who has been the loudest proponent of this view in the struggle: Lloyd George. To be begin with, we need to point out that Lloyd George is not really a minister of war, according to our standards. He is the representative of the workforce that produces munitions, a workforce that lives in greater comfort than the comrades fighting in Flanders and Picardy.
Furthermore, one must ask oneself: Does Lloyd George believe what he preaches? Half a year before the outbreak of the war – though with a different portfolio in hand – Lloyd George said that German armies were by no means dangerous to Europe’s balance of power and peace. He claimed that Britain’s relations with Germany had never been better, and therefore, England’s expenditures for its fleet had to be reduced. Is there sufficient explanation in the intervening events for this change of view? Or must we assume that one or the other explanation did not suit his inner convictions, but only reflected the respective situation? My personal feeling is that we give too much weight to Lloyd George’ comments. They don’t really reflect a change in English politics. The decision to fight us by all means militarily and economically was reached much earlier. On the other hand, this incident by no means refutes the assumption that there are circles in England too, who call for the end of the war, especially because they are concerned about the balance of the finances.
We also saw that the cabinet covered its colleague, Lloyd George, quite poorly and that voices have risen against him in the country. Presumably, the question: What are we still fighting for? will be asked more often. But very few Englishmen seriously believe in the words of Lloyd George in the sense that a destruction of Germany is possible – that a people who showed such a resistance to an all-powerful force would be so easily subjugated. Many also doubt whether an economic ruin in Germany and the establishment of an economic Chinese wall between the two countries would serve English interests.