In 1890 the Pan-German movement was launched to foster more systematically the ideas of territorial expansion and world conquest. As early as 1893, one of its publications, prophetically entitled Greater Germany and Central Europe Approximately in 1940, trumpeted: Germans alone will govern … they alone will exercise political rights; they alone will serve in the army and in the navy; they alone will have the right to become land-owners; thus they will acquire the conviction that, as in the Middle Ages, the Germans are a people of rulers. However, they will condescend so far as to delegate inferior tasks to foreign subjects who live among them.
Five years later, when The Hague Conference was groping vainly for a formula for peace and disarmament, the Pan-German magazine Heimdall was objecting: “For us Germans the abolition of war can become possible only—if at all—when the German Reich, that is, the Pan-German Reich in the widest sense, has become the Super-State, the supreme power, in the world.”
As a new century was ushered in, most peoples of the world were hoping it would be one of profound peace. But the German Admiral von Tirpitz was talking earnestly about the possibility of seizing a naval base for Germany in the Caribbean. The Pan-German leader, Dr. Wintzer, spoke about protecting the interests of Germans overseas, referred magniloquently to “the universal mission of the German race” and demanded that Germans everywhere recognize their “duty to work for a policy of systematic expansion.”
From this time until 1914, Germany was carrying on a war of nerves—although the term had not yet been invented—to the tune of pretty general applause from her people. … Professor Ernest Hasse wrote in his The German Reich as a National State, published in 1905: Who, in the future, is to do the heavy and dirty work which every national community based on labor will always need? … The solution consists in our condemning alien European stock, the Poles, Czechs, Jews, Italians and so on, who live under us, or find their way to us, to these slaves’ conceptions.
When the Kaiser was bringing on the Moroccan crisis of 1911 and extorting a slice of the Congo from France as the price of refraining from war over a settlement he had agreed to in 1906, German fondness for war was being stimulated by the printed page. General von Bernhardt strategically brought out a new book called Germany and the Next War in which Berlin was stirred to a strong support of the possible conflict over Morocco. “Our people must learn that the preservation of peace cannot and must never be the aim of our policy,” he wrote, and: “War is not only a necessary element in the life of peoples, but also the indispensable factor in culture, indeed the highest expression of the strength and life of truly cultural peoples.”
As World War I drew nearer, the glorification of war and contempt for other peoples grew even more blatant. Two examples from 1913 give the tone of innumerable speeches and articles of the time. “War is the noblest and holiest expression of German activity,” proclaimed the October issue of Jungdeutschland, a magazine for German youth of Boy Scout age. “… Let us ridicule to the utmost the old women in breeches who fear war and deplore it as cruel and revolting. No! War is beautiful! Its august sublimity elevates the human heart beyond the earthly and the common.” “The historical view as to the biological evolution of races tells us that there are dominant races and subordinate races,” explained the Pan-German organ, Alldeutsche Blaetter, “… Conquest in particular is always a function of the dominant races… . The conquerors are acting only according to biological principles if they suppress alien languages and undertake to destroy strange popular customs… . Only the conquering race must be populous, so that it can overrun the territory it has won.”