Heinrich Class, "If I Were Kaiser" (1912)

[Under the pseudonym of Daniel Frymann, Heinrich Class (1868-1953), President of the Pan-German League since 1908, expressed the sentiments of radical nationalists regarding the "reform" of the German Empire they deemed absolutely essential to stave off catastrophe. In the imperial era, Class spoke the language of the radical right that became ever more at home in the political discourse of the Weimar Republic. The book circulated in only 20-25,000 copies before World War I but was read by some very important people, including the kaiser and crown prince. It met with criticism on a number of grounds, ranging from rejection of its extremist positions on the "Jewish question" to complaints that its ideas were valid and desirable but, alas, utopian under present conditions. Source: Daniel Frymann [Heinrich Class], Wenn ich der Kaiser wär': Politische Wahrheiten und Notwendigkeiten (4th ed., Leipzig, 1913). From Harry Pross (ed.), Die Zerstörung der deutschen Politik: Dokumente 1871-1933 (Frankfurt, 1959), pp. 128-36. Translated by Richard S. Levy.]

TEXT

Replacement of universal and equal suffrage by an appropriate class or plural voting franchise; the simultaneous conversion to a parliamentary system that recognizes the personal accomplishments of the educated and the propertied in the realm of political work....

We ought to reach back to the draft of the [Anti-] Socialist Law that Bismarck put before the Reichstag in the year 1878 and allow it to become law without watering it down in the way favored by the parliament of that day. Accordingly, everything that serves to undermine the state and social order, or is suspected of doing so, would be prohibited. To wit: assemblies, associations, newspapers, and periodicals [conforming to the above tendencies] would not be tolerated. Moreover, all the preventive measures envisioned in the draft law of September 1878 would have to be introduced.[1]

However, we must take a further step.

A radical workers' party that stands on the basis of the state, the nation, and the monarchy can be absorbed by our public life, can, perhaps, even be put to good use; it can, if need be, rouse the conscience against any inclination to an [exclusively] bourgeois policy. But not a party that drives the masses toward anarchy, that has disowned its own nation, its own fatherland....To give the masses the opportunity to turn away from or put a stop to [this tendency], we must free them from the entire current leadership: all Reichstag and state parliament deputies, all party officials, all editors and publishers of socialist newspapers, all leaders of socialist trade unions--in short, all who stand in the service of socialist propaganda--shall be expelled from the German Empire. Of course, the same applies as well to all anarchists....

At the same time, society must do all it can to win the masses back to the fatherland. Public interest corporations will publish the most inexpensive daily papers in order to provide the people with de-toxified reading material. In this way the gap left by the suppression of the socialist press will be filled. Large-scale national meetings must be inaugurated through which the best people from all walks of life and the professions will work together for reconciliation. Holidays to celebrate the fatherland are to be instituted for the people. Soon we will recover what was neglected in the years of economic growth following the founding of the Empire and then in the subsequent years of embitterment.[2] We must take up the "struggle for the soul of the people," to paraphrase a beautiful slogan. The army administration will support civil society in these efforts, providing the opportunity for soldiers to hear lectures drawn from German history....If we are to take up this struggle, we must be clear about it: no half-measures, no weakness, no sentimentality. The whole work [must be carried out] with a firm, a hard will....

If there is a strike in the offing, the affected group of employers, or an individual employer, should be empowered to place the geographic area of his factory under strike protection. Government officials would then issue an order, valid for the vicinity of the affected factory (the exact extent of which to be determined for each case), prohibiting any gathering of people, any setting up of so-called strike posts, and any approaches by members of the striking party to those willing to work. Whoever violates this prohibition, even without having committed an actionable offense, can be taken into protective custody. Depending on the greater or lesser degree of tension in the strike region, government officials will have the right to extend this detention for the duration of the strike. A strike region can consist of a single factory and its surrounding area where those who want to work are molested or spied upon in their coming and going; or, an entire region such as, for example, the whole coal mining district. The proceedings will be summary. It only has to be established that the accused has violated the strike protection [declaration]. If this is the case, the official pronounces the verdict without recourse to committee and without having to justify it. Appeals are permissible at the lowest administrative level but may go no further than this. Needless to say, in so far as legal definitions of the right to personal freedom stand in the way of this kind of strike protection, appropriate changes [in the law] must be undertaken....

We need a free press for our national life, a press of and for Germans, one that expresses the German spirit. Without such a press, we cannot even think of a free, healthy, and proud development. In these difficult times, we must be mindful of the enduring service rendered to our people by the so-called national press. It has held high the flag of German thought and, with sound instinct, represented the ideals of our blood. It has manfully and bravely known how to protect its independence with respect to those above as well as those below....Perhaps, the suppression of the socialist press and what I shall suggest concerning the distancing of Jewry from our public life will be sufficient to preserve the health of our press system. We ought not be satisfied with this hope, however, but seek a legislative solution to defend against the negative consequences of the "free play of forces" in this realm that is so decisively important for the spiritual, moral, and political life of the nation. We can be confident that the editors and publishers of the national press will be conscientious and loyal advisors when it comes time to attack this most difficult and delicate task of intellectual reform.

A return to health in our national life, in all its branches --cultural, moral, political, and economic--and the maintenance of that recovered health is only possible if Jewish influence is either completely expunged or screwed back to a bearable, innocuous level.

Let us be clear in the discussion of these necessities that the innocent must suffer along with the guilty....

Today, the borders must be totally and unconditionally barred to any further Jewish immigration. This is absolutely necessary, but no longer sufficient. Just as self-evident, foreign Jews who have not yet acquired citizenship rights must be speedily and unconditionally expelled, to the last man. But this also is not enough....We must demand that resident Jews be placed under an Aliens' Law....

A Jew, according to the above Aliens' Law, is anyone who belonged to a Jewish religious corporation as of 18 January 1871, as well as all the descendants of such persons who were Jews at that date, even when only one parent was or is [a Jew by the above definition]. All public offices remain closed to Jews whether of a paid or honorary nature, whether national, state, or municipal. They will not be allowed to serve in the army or navy. They will hold neither the active nor the passive right to vote. The professions of lawyer and teacher are denied them, also that of theater director.

Newspapers which have Jewish collaborators must make this fact known. The others, which we generally call "German" newspapers, may neither be owned by Jews nor have Jewish editors or reporters. Banks that are not purely personal enterprises may not have Jewish directors. In future, rural property may not be owned by Jews or be mortgaged to Jews.

As compensation for the protection Jews enjoy as foreigners, they shall pay double the taxes of Germans....

And now we come to the saving of the German nation's soul....When it comes to the future of our nation, we must put off weakness....

Resolutely militant policy against the Poles through application of expropriation and introduction of a prohibition against parcellization of land....Extension of military law to all regions endangered by Polish assault. Especially for Upper Silesia we must demand that those elected by the Polish people can sit in parliament only as advisors; they therefore should have no vote and are to be heard only on those matters of interest to their fellow nationals or homeland. Should it turn out that these determinations are avoided by mergers with other parties, we should not shrink from the further step of finally withdrawing the active and passive franchise from Poles. The definition of a Pole should be established on the same basis as suggested for Jews, naturally with language as the determining factor.

Under all conditions Polish newspapers and periodicals must include a German translation next to the Polish text. German will be the only tolerated language for any assembly....

However, there must be created a Central Office in which everything concerning the Polish question is deliberated upon. Only after an Ostmark[3] ministry [has been created] in which the practical struggles of the Polish question are worked out by experts, guaranteeing uniformity of direction, will, and execution of policy, can we expect a lasting success. Should it come to the stage of Polish resistance with recourse to means thus far avoided, the state should not shrink from the ultimate. However, we need not speak of this today and, hopefully, never will have to.

When we consider that in [Alsace-Lorraine] the number of French speakers has grown constantly since 1871, we need to speak out in cold blood. We didn't take the Reichsland "for the sake of your beautiful eyes";[4] we took it out of military necessity. The inhabitants were an extra; the territory was the main thing. We have already made our choice once. Now we choose again. Every adult must declare publicly and without reservation for himself and his family, to which meeting of the obligation also applies, that the French language will be used neither in the home nor outside it and that no newspapers, periodicals, or books will be brought in from France. Whoever refuses this obligation has opted against the German Empire and must swiftly leave the country. Breach of the obligation meets with the same fate.

All private schools will be abolished. Teaching in the public schools will be exclusively in German, except for the authentically French-speaking areas which must be treated differently and for which transitional measures will be introduced. French will be allowed in the middle school according to the usual standards for the rest of Germany.

In the German-speaking regions [of Alsace-Lorraine], the language of state, courts, and churches will be exclusively German. For the French areas interim measures will apply. Bringing children into French institutions such as those in Belgium and Switzerland which use the French language will be regarded as [an instance] of the father's choosing against the German Empire.

The constitution will be abolished. The territory will be placed under a minister for Alsace-Lorraine...and ruled dictatorially....

If we are now to create order in our fatherland, we must also consider the Danes and also place before them a new, deciding choice: Whoever fails to declare himself unconditionally for the Prussian state must cross the border [to Denmark]. Danish language and administration must at a certain point in time vanish from schools, churches, courts, and administration. Only until this time will Danish newspapers, with German translations included, be tolerated.

To facilitate the settlement of Germans [in Schleswig], the right of expropriation of Danish landed property is to be granted to the state, similar to the one applying to Poles. Further, the protective measures of the Law against Revolution is to be universally applied against Danish intrigues....

Concerning the counter-measures [against alien non-citizens in the German Empire] we will have to distinguish according to the race- relatedness as well as the value or lack of value of the foreigners before taking appropriate action....

As a significant measure...the highly welcome return immigration of Germans from the lost colonial outposts of the far-flung ancient Empire should be fostered through the most generous expenditures. The Welfare Association for Return Immigration has rendered great service, gathering and developing information. From this core an imperial central office will be established to distribute within the country the German colonists fetched back from southern Russia, Galicia, Russian Poland, and North America.

Keeping this overall goal firmly in sight means therefore that all non-German aliens must be expelled from the territory of the Empire as swiftly as possible and under all conditions; and then they must be kept out for the duration....

Simultaneously, we must take steps for the preservation of our rural population--vitally important in respect to our national health, our posterity, and the composition of the army. We will thus secure the eastern lands and the solid anchoring of this [peasant] estate without which the state can not exist....

We are wholly right to assert the principle that no war has produced such serious losses to our nation as the "freedom of movement"....For the virtuous and the enterprising there ought to be no obstacles. For this reason and from a psychological point of view we must take care that the creation of chains binding one to the hearth do not awaken hate for a compulsory homeland....However, the friend of the people will remain conscious of the dangers that lurk in the freedom of movement and will be prepared to cooperate in the effort to reform this right, when it should be necessary....

As discussed previously, I have fought the view that we are a "saturated" [nation]. If public opinion stood on the same ground, it, too, would speak out unequivocally: The army and the navy are also attack weapons, when the security of our existence is at stake. It is fortunate that our officers are filled with this spirit. May it live long enough to be taken up by the leaders of our national policy.

The nation is in itself eternal, eternal by virtue of its perpetuation, which takes precedence over individual personalities. And [the nation] will remain eternal, if, when the seed of degeneration is recognized, it is mercilessly killed, even when the necessary action seems hard and loveless in individual cases; [the action] carries its right within itself and serves the highest principle of life: the perpetuity of the nation.

We must combat the loss of intellectual force that results from narrow mental horizons. Without compulsion we cannot expect our youth freely to find its way back from everything in life that is narrow and empty to the wellsprings of enthusiasm. Thus, every special examination should be preceded by one in general education. German history must be obligatory....The type of examination must correspond to the following intention: it must convey a view of the whole and determine whether the student is capable of grasping the great themes of national development.... The dissemination of everything that masquerades as art but speculates in decadent inclinations in order to excite attention or "make" money, must be banned.

Art is too holy to be misused in this way; our nation is too good to be exposed to such seduction....To safeguard art from petty police chicanery, the office of censor will be transferred to the best and most recognized masters in all fields....

In the discussion of voting rights it has already been put forth that the political strivings of women cannot be regarded as justifiable or useful. The strength of the woman is instinct. If she is conscious of her nation and proud of its character, history, greatness, and exploits, the German woman, acting on instinct, will cause her children to value their fatherland in feeling and attitude so that when they begin to think they can do naught but love it....

We must rethink the axiom: equal rights for all. It should be replaced by the principle: political rights are to be regulated according to the service the individual renders to the totality and according to his behavior toward it....

It is essential that everyone interested in public life learn to rethink matters, that we must pursue an active foreign policy--in a word, an aggressive one. Either we find that things are going well, that we are prospering more each day and have space enough for a long, long time to come; then we ought to let things run their course and limit ourselves to a defensive posture, that is, defending ourselves should another dare to attack us....Or we notice that not only is the economic struggle for existence growing ever sharper within the country, but that the foreign market is also becoming increasingly difficult. Then, in the near future, we shall find that the resulting necessities arising from these conditions will not be met by present-day Germany together with all its colonies. That being so, we will have to acquire territory....

Obviously, any expansion in Europe is to be brought about only through victorious wars....If we have been victorious and force cessions of territory, we will thereby get regions inhabited by Frenchmen or Russians, people who are hostile toward us. We then have to ask whether such an increase in territory improves our situation....Since we have broached the question of evacuation [of native populations] in passing, so to speak, it is perhaps not out of order to speak of it publicly on occasion. By so doing, our enemies will recognize that such desperate measures already have their advocates in Germany....In other words, we ought not think of an aggressive war to take foreign territory for purposes of evacuating [inhabitants]. But we ought to accustom ourselves to thinking of such a measure as an allowable response to foreign attack. A predatory war contradicts our principles. But a punishment for a ruthless attack justifies us, even to this severest measure, for there is such a thing as "iron necessity." A defensive war in this sense may legitimately be conducted in an aggressive way on the German side, for we must undertake to preempt the enemy....

It is one of the most beautiful traits of German national character that loyalty has maintained itself through all the storms of a difficult development, even though it has been sorely tried by injustice and oppression from above. Through careful scrutiny we find that in our own times [the trait] was reborn or, in any case, renewed by the splendid personality and wonderful bearing of the first Wilhelm, by his loyalty to his loyal followers. In the best of our people the need lives on today to follow a strong and virtuous leader. All who have not been seduced by the doctrines of an un-German democracy long for such a one, not because they are inclined to servility or weak in character, but because they know that greatness can only exert itself through the coming together of individual powers--something that can be achieved only through subordination to a leader. What a blessing for our people if this leader would arise in the bearer of the crown....

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NOTES

[1] Although somewhat softened by National Liberal and Centrist objections, the second version of the Anti-Socialist Laws passed the Reichstag in October 1878. Under it, state and local governments could abolish socialist societies, dissolve meetings, and prohibit publications. Violators of the law were subject to heavy fines and imprisonment. Where the Social Democrats were strong and deemed "a threat to public safety," a minor state of siege could be imposed that allowed for expulsion of the most dangerous persons.

[2] Class here refers to the boom years 1867-73 and then the financial crash of 1873 which inaugurated twenty-three years of alternating recession and uneven growth, unemployment and social turmoil.

[3] Ostmark was the preferred nationalist term for the eastern portions of the empire because it harked back to the glorious days of the Carolingian Reich.

[4] Reichsland was the official designation for Alsace-Lorraine, the territories ceded to Germany in the treaty that ended the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. The phrase in quotation marks is a translation of the French cliche: "pour nos beaux yeux." Here it represents a typical example of Class's sarcasm.

FOR FURTHER READING

Roger Chickering, We Men Who Feel Most German: A Cultural Study of the Pan-German League, 1886-1914 (Boston, 1984)