December 11, 1899 – Germany Will Be Either the Hammer or The Anvil!

On this date, Bernhard von Bülow, the German Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (soon to be named Chancellor of the German Empire), went before the Reichstag to obtain funds for a new expansion of the German naval fleet. With unfortunate prescience, he said in part:

Many in the world today feel envy toward us, both political and economic envy. There are individuals, there are interest groups, there are movements and perhaps even nations who believe that Germans were easier and more pleasant neighbors when, despite our education and culture, foreigners looked down on us in political and economic matters like arrogant noblemen looking at a humble tutor.

This age of political impotence and economic and political humility must not be allowed to return.

In the words of Friedrich List, we do not ever again want to be the slaves of humanity. But we will only be able to maintain a leading position if we recognize that there is no welfare for us without power, without a strong army, without a strong fleet.

Gentlemen, for a nation that will soon number sixty million, a nation that inhabits the center of Europe and is sending its economic feelers out in all directions, the means have not yet been devised to win the struggle for survival in this world without a strong navy and army.

In the coming century the German people will be either a hammer or an anvil.”

Bernhard von Bülow

Bernhard von Bülow


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