THE CAUSES OF THE WAR
 THE true fundamental cause of the war was a belief in German national superiority. They were better; therefore
they deserved more; being better, they ought easily to be able to get more, even if it were necessary to get
it with the sword. They believed that they understood better than any other nation how to live, how to govern,
how to manufacture, how to write music, paint pictures, clean streets, or grow potatoes. The word Kultur
covered everything. The whole process of life was clearer to them than to others, they thought, and hence they
were able to organize the community better, and to make more progress in industry, agriculture, the fine arts,
in government itself. As the Kaiser declared, "The German people will be the granite block on which the good
God will build and complete his work of culture in the world." Another important German said, "The German
race—there can be no doubt of it—because of its nature and character, was designed by Providence
to solve the great problem of directing the affairs of the whole world, of civilizing the savage and barbarous
countries and of populating those which are still uninhabited."
Upon Germany, then, depended the fate of civilization itself! Without Germany civilization was lost. As
Treitschke, one of their great historians, said, "The greatness and good of the world is to be found in the
predominance there of German Kultur." Must not Germany then be a nation of people, powerful enough to defend
this Kultur upon which the whole future of the world depended,
 strong enough to spread it to the nations that did not already have it? "Germany should civilize and Germanize
the world, and the German language will become the world language."
The Germans must also develop their idea of civilization. "The German race is called by God to bring the earth
under its control." To make their civilization permanent, they must make Germany powerful. "We intend to
become a world power that will overtop other world powers so greatly that Germany will be the only real world
power." Germany must be made the most powerful, the most wealthy, the largest, and the most important country
in the world.
But it was very clear to the Germans long ago that Germany was not the most powerful country in the world, nor
as rich as others, nor indeed as well situated as others to become either rich or powerful. She was not able
to control the world; she was not strong enough to control even her own destinies. The thought galled them
inexpressibly. They could not longer endure it. Germany must have her Place in the Sun; she must become a
power on the sea; she must have colonies; she must have everything that any other nation had; she must have
more than other nations had.
All this, certainly, other nations would not yield without force; so much the Germans knew. But if they must
have it, if God meant them to have it, they should therefore get it as best they could and as soon as
possible. They must conquer in war the nations who refused to recognize what Germany must have. The Crown
Prince wrote, "It is only by relying on our good German sword that we can hope to conquer that Place in the
Sun which rightly belongs to us and which no one will yield to us voluntarily."
AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE GERMAN WAR HORSE IN "OUR HOLY WAR," 1914.
AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE PICTORIAL ATTEMPT TO ROUSE THE GERMAN PEOPLE.
And what now was Germany's position, about which they complained so bitterly? Europe is a small continent
compared with America, Africa, or Asia, but in it live more large nations of people than in any of the other
continents except Asia. Germany herself
 had some seventy millions, Austria nearly sixty, Great Britain forty-five, France forty, Russia one hundred
and eighty millions. If we leave out Russia, we find these other big nations all crowded into an area nothing
like as large as the United States and with about three times as many people. The land in Europe, therefore,
 was all occupied; there were already too many people to live there prosperously and happily. But Germany was
growing very fast in numbers, and, if she was to promote Kultur as the Germans planned, the population must
increase at a still faster rate. She must grow also in wealth; her people must make more to sell, so that they
might have more with which to buy. But Germany could not continue to grow larger without making her people
One of two things must happen. The surplus people might leave Germany and go elsewhere to live, just as many
Germans had already come to the United States. They would then cease to live in Germany and would therefore
cease to be a part of the true nation, however much they might still feel that they were Germans. This was not
thinkable. The alternative was that all Germans must stay in the Fatherland, which must be made a place where
all living Germans and all that would be born for an indefinite number of years could live in prosperity and
happiness. This could be arranged only by an astounding development of manufacturing, of commerce, and of
But Germany did not have herself any supply of the most important raw materials. Clothes cannot be made
without wool or cotton, and the Germans had no supply of either. Most kinds of machinery could not be made
without copper and various metals of which the Germans had only a very small supply or none at all.
Electricity plays a very important part in modern life and requires a great deal of rubber; the Germans had
none. Gasoline for auto-mobiles; kerosene for lamps and stoves; and all sorts of petroleum products are
imperative to prosperity and comfort. But Germany had no wells of oil. Without those and a good many other
things, profitable manufacturing and prosperous living could not be continued.
 And the Germans still lacked customers to whom they should sell the new goods they were to make. If they were
to make more and more goods every succeeding year, they must sell more and more each year, and they could not
sell any such increase in Germany. Customers they found in France, England, the United States, South America,
Asia. But how could they be sure they would continue to buy? Raw materials they found at long distances from
Germany. Cotton, copper, and oil came from the United States, rubber from South America, wool from Australia.
How could they be sure the supply would continue to arrive?
To reach both raw materials and customers, the Germans must cross the ocean. Ships must take their exports out
and ships must bring imports back. Yet neither Germany nor Austria was placed on the ocean itself. The greater
part of the German sea coast was on the Baltic Sea, which had a very narrow entrance controlled by Denmark.
While there were many rivers in Germany, only one flowed into the North Sea, or what the Germans call the
German Ocean, and Germany had only one good harbor, Hamburg. The river Rhine was a very great German river,
but it was controlled by Holland. The German railroad system, which connected German trade with the rest of
Europe, really centered in Belgium. All German trade, therefore, found itself a long way from its ultimate
Other nations were in a position to prevent the Germans from using the sea and thus could stop the stream of
raw materials into Germany and of manufactured goods out. Those German ships which must go through the Baltic
might meet opposition from Russia. All German ships must go through the English Channel, controlled by England
on one side and by the French, Belgian, and Dutch coasts on the other side. The Germans had no coast on the
Channel and no harbor there.
 When the German ships got into the open ocean, they found it controlled by the British navy. Being the largest
fleet, it controlled as well all water highways which German ships must take going to America, South America,
and Asia. If they wished to go through the Mediterranean, they found it in the hands of the British and the
French, and the Suez Canal, through which ships going to India and China passed into the Red Sea, was held by
Great Britain. If they sailed around Africa, they found the Cape of Good Hope controlled by the British. If
they went to the Gulf of Mexico, they found the Panama Canal owned by the United States. No water routes which
the Germans must use to reach the necessary raw materials or their own customers were within German control.
But were the Germans unable to get raw materials in these countries or to sell to customers in England or in
America, in India or in South America? Did any German ships ever fail to get through the English Channel or to
reach a port across the Atlantic because of opposition from the British, the French, or the Americans? The
Germans never claimed that any such case had occurred. German ships sailed where they pleased; Germans had
customers in every country in the world, and they had never sold so many goods as in the ten years before the
war. They were doing proportionately more business in fact than any other nation.
Where then was the trouble? What were they complaining about? They said that the nations who did control the
sea and its approaches might close it and might refuse to let German ships go
through. The British might close the Suez Canal, or the United States might refuse
the Germans the use of the Panama Canal. The British might close the English Channel, and the
Germans would not be able to go around the British Isles because there were so many rocks and storms that a
ship was almost certain to be
 wrecked. Their customers in these nations might also refuse to buy German goods, not because they did not want
the goods but because they wished to hurt Germany. The fact that Germany was great, that other nations were
jealous of her civilization and did not wish to be taught by Germany how they ought to live, would cause them
to injure Germany by refusing to sell to her raw materials or to buy of her manufactured goods or by closing
the seas. The Germans must therefore create a situation which would make it impossible for any nation or any
number of nations to prevent Germany from getting as many raw materials as she wanted or from selling as many
goods as she could make. Germany must not depend upon the good will of other nations nor conduct a trade which
others had it in their power to stop.
The difficulty was that in Europe Germany had enemies. There were many people, the Germans felt, who hated
them. They were surrounded by enemies. There was France on the west, and Russia on the east. South of
Austria-Hungary was Italy. Beyond the Channel were the British Isles. See, implored the Germans, we lie
between two enemies. On one side is France, whom we defeated in the war of 1870 and from whom we took
Alsace-Lorraine, for which the French have ever since longed to revenge themselves on us. Then on the other
side is Russia, millions of people occupying a huge country, with vast resources. How can we cope with both
France and Russia?
We have, they complained, no frontiers to defend us, no mountains to stand between us and the Russians and the
French, no deep rivers which they cannot cross. Germany lacks a defensive frontier. The only protection we
have is the German army, and if we should be attacked on both sides at once, we probably could not defend
ourselves at all.
THE TRIPLE ENTENTE AND TRIPLE ALLIANCE IN 1914.
The Germans therefore took extended measures to deal with this
 peril which they believed menaced them in Europe. They made an alliance with Austria and Italy that was to
provide them with help in case either France or Russia should attack them, for then Italy would attack France
and Austria would attack Russia.
Of course they also agreed that if Russia attacked Austria or France attacked Italy, they would help in their
turn. But they were more concerned about themselves than they were about others. They built a great fleet of
merchant ships so that goods going to Germany might not wait on the shore somewhere for transportation because
the British refused to carry them in their ships. They then built a great navy literally to frighten the
British and prevent them from closing the English Channel, the Mediterranean Sea, or the various ocean roads
which the German ships followed.
They then concluded that a country to be great must have colonies. They had established long ago a few in
Africa and some in the Pacific, but had failed to make money out of them, or to find them valuable customers.
They must create a great colony which would provide not merely customers but also raw materials and which
would not be open to attack from the sea. The British fleet was so large and so capable that the Germans were
afraid they might never be able to defeat it. Hence they must locate their colony
 in some place which they could reach by land and which the British could not reach by sea.
They selected Mesopotamia. There had been some of the greatest empires of history; there some of the
wealthiest of peoples had lived; there should rise a New Germany. They thought that they might raise cotton,
grow wool, and perhaps cultivate rubber. Petroleum existed there and copper they would find in the mountains.
There too was room for millions of Germans to settle and create a community which would produce for sale in
Germany what Germans wished to buy and which would buy from Germany what the latter made and wished to sell.
And it was out of the reach of the British fleet The Germans themselves would reach it by means of the Bagdad
Railroad. This would run from Berlin to Vienna, down through the mountains to Constantinople, and then through
Asia Minor to Bagdad. It would provide them with transportation. But they must not forget to protect it.
Bagdad was a long distance from Berlin and the railroad passed through many countries which the Germans did
not control. The British fleet, too, might land troops in Syria, a very short distance from the railroad and
Bagdad and Berlin and the German army would be too far away to help. A new state must be created to protect
the railroad and the new colony, a federated state created out of many states. Austria would be an
all-important part; Turkey too must become an ally of Germany and a part of the new state, for the Turks owned
the territory in which Mesopotamia was situated and most of the territory through which the railroad ran after
leaving Germany and Austria. But there were two states between Austria and Turkey, Bulgaria, with whose king
the Germans and Austrians easily made an alliance, and Serbia. But Serbia declined their offers. Pleading,
urging, threatening failed. To control the section of the railroad that
 ran through Serbia, Austria must seize Serbia itself. They must have Serbia. They must control Belgrade and
the crossing of the Danube. So Serbians feared and hated Austria; so men could believe in 1914 that a Serbian
would kill the Austrian Archduke.
These alliances and conquests once complete, a great empire would have been created, strong enough to be
independent of Europe and of the rest of the world, strong enough perhaps to dominate the rest of the world
without having to conquer it. For the Germans truthfully said that they would prefer not to be compelled to
conquer the world in order to Germanize it. This great empire would also be able, they thought, to destroy the
British Empire. A land attack on the Suez Canal would deprive the British of their connection by sea with
India and Australia, and compel them to go around Africa. Meanwhile, the Germans themselves would proceed by
land along the Persian Gulf, reach India first, and conquer it. They even thought that they might afterwards
conquer the whole of Asia. This is the true Pan-Germanism. It began with an attempt to keep German those who
left Germany and went to live in other countries like the United States; hence the name, All-Germans, meaning
that all Germans in all parts of the world should stay together and cooperate with one another. But the plan
grew from that quite simple idea into this vast scheme of world conquest and dominion.