"THE CHOSEN PEOPLE"
nations began to declare war on one another. I stood with twenty others for
hours in the Palace at Potsdam, trying by the silent pressure of will to
reduce the pressure of the war-will which surged in the German nation toward
its Emperor. And they say that Germany did not want war!
“Der Tag” seemed near, and war seemed to mean triumph.
It is a commonplace to say now that Germany believed that
England could not go to war. And had England not gone to war, the
issue would have been settled before the date of this writing. The German
navy would have met the French in battle and would have worsted it.
It would be well for you to cease shrinking when I say what does
not please you. I state what I know; you merely write down what I say.
I and twenty others centred the force of
our will in Potsdam and in the Wilhelmstrasse. Not that we did not know what
the issue would be. We knew. This war was written in the stars. But as the
soldier does his duty though he knows that he will lose the day, so we stood
our ground against the war devils.
The greatest of the Masters did not stand there with us, and I
do not know where he was. Probably on some business that we might not have
understood. Perhaps holding back worse forces from the outer stars.
No, that is not a dream, though it is only a supposition. There
is evil as well as good in the outer stars.
Had it not been for the restraining influence of those who
watched up here, many of the foreigners in Germany at that time would have
been torn limb from limb.
What do you know of war-madness, hate-madness? Were you capable
of feeling it in your present personality, you could not write for me now,
while those whom you love and respect are nearly all on one side of a war
not yet finished. You may grasp hate intellectually, you may dramatize it;
but you do not feel it, though you have suffered from its effects.
The worst in the German heart is very
bad—though I tell you not to hate them. The worst in all people is very bad,
but the German is the greatest bully on the planet. The cruel Oriental races
have a restraint which has grown in them through ages of culture; the German
knows only the restraint of the German law, he respects only the restraint
of the German law.
He has no sense of right and wrong in the abstract, though he is
often extremely sensitive as to what is right and wrong for him in his
relation to those near him, his kinsmen and fellow-citizens. But those
outside the race-group are outside his code of honor, however polished he
I am speaking now of the race, not of the few who have by long
residence abroad absorbed somewhat of world-brotherhood and the more
delicate sensibilities of international relations.
And mark this also: the German can love as thoroughly as he can
hate; but he can love only his own, something which is an extension of
himself, a secondary ego, the me in another form. A German may love a
foreign wife, if he can Germanize her. A German may love a foreign friend,
if that friend does not stand in the way of something he wants for himself.
I am not referring to those sudden
outpourings of emotion to which those emotional people are subject. I am not
referring to their surface kindliness, which is the overflow of emotion.
And still I say, love these unlovable people, love them so much
that they will be detached from their race-centre and will flow out in
melting response to everything that is not German. The world can never
really soften the German shell by throwing stones against it. When they
break down in this war, they will not be any more essentially lovable
because they are weaker. Love them by trying to understand them.
It will take decades for the arrogant and self-exalting German
to see that there is anything outside that may be superior to what is inside
He respects only might. He must be conquered by might. From his
enforced respect of a superior might he may be led gradually to see the
superior right of that gentleness which does not use its might to coerce him
when further coercion is unnecessary.
I have stood in German households since the
war began, I have entered into and for the time being have become
German men and German women, and I understand them and love them. I even
admire them, for their devotion to their own is immense. Once let that
strength go out in real brotherhood to all mankind, and these people would
be truly great. Is it possible? All things are possible to the human soul,
and these people are very human.
The defect is in their vaunted education. They teach themselves
that they are the chosen people. When they learn that they are not the
chosen people in war, the very force of the shock may upset the pillar of
egotism that stands upright in the centre of the German soul. The world
should not let that pillar fall with a crash, but softly ease the blow—not
too softly, lest mercy be mistaken for war-weariness.
The World-Mother has a hard and erring child. It has to be
punished, but not refused a seat at the family table.
I have said these things to you because, if
you do not shrink, I have things to tell you in my next letter which will
need fortitude for you to receive, fortitude and charity, whose other name