Georg Schonerer was not the man to do things by halves. He took up the struggle toward the Church in the conviction that by it alone he could save the German people. The 'AwayfromRome' movement seemed the most powerful, though, to be sure, the most difficult, mode of attack, which would inevitably shatter the hostile citadel. If it was successful, the tragic church schism in Germany would be healed, and it was possible that the inner strength of the Empire and the German nation would gain enormously by such a victory.
But neither the premise nor the inference of this struggle was correct.
Without doubt the national force of resistance of the Catholic clergy of German nationality, in all questions connected with Germanism, was less than that of their non-German, particularly Czech, brethren.
Likewise only an ignoramus could fail to see that an offensive in favor of German interests was something that practically never occurred to the German clergyman.
And anyone who was not blind was forced equally to admit that this was due primarily to a circumstance under which all of us Germans have to suffer severely: that is, the objectivity of our attitude toward our nationality as well as everything else.
While the Czech clergyman was subjective in his attitude toward his people and objective only toward the Church, the German pastor was subjectively devoted to the Church and remained objective toward the nation. A phenomenon which, to our misfortune, we can observe equally well in thousands of other cases.
This is by no means a special legacy of Catholicism, but with us it quickly corrodes almost every institution, whether it be governmental or ideal.
Just compare the position which our civil servants, for example, take toward the attempts at a national awakening with the position which in such a case the civil servants of another people would take. Or does anyone believe that an officers' corps anywhere else in the world would subordinate the interests of the nation amid mouthings about 'state authority,' in the way that has been taken for granted in our country for the last five years, in fact, has been viewed as especially meritorious? In the Jewish question, for example, do not both denominations today take a standpoint which corresponds neither to the requirements of the nation nor to the real needs of religion? Compare the attitude of a Jewish rabbi in all questions of even the slightest importance for the Jews as a race with the attitude of by far the greatest part of our clergy-of both denominations, if you please!
We always find this phenomenon when it is a question of defending an abstract idea as such.
'State authority,' 'democracy,' 'pacifism,' 'international solidarity,' etc., are all concepts which with us nearly always become so rigid and purely doctrinaire that subsequently all purely national vital necessities are judged exclusively from their standpoint.
This catastrophic way of considering all matters from the angle of a preconceived opinion kills every possibility of thinking oneself subjectively into a matter which is objectively opposed to one's own doctrine, and finally leads to a total reversal of means and ends. People will reject any attempt at a national uprising if it can take place only after the elimination of a bad, ruinous regime, since this would be an offense against 'state authority,' and ' state authority ' is not a means to an end, but in the eyes of such a fanatical objectivist rather represents the aim itself, which is sufficient to fill out his whole lamentable life. Thus, for example, they would indignantly oppose any attempt at a dictatorship, even if it was represented by a Frederick the Great and the momentary political comedians of a parliamentary majority were incapable dwarfs or really inferior characters, just because the law
of democracy seems holier to such a principle-monger than the welfare of a nation. The one will therefore defend the worst tyranny, a tyranny which is ruining the people, since at the moment it embodies 'state authority,' while the other rejects even the most beneficial government as soon as it fails to satisfy his conception of 'democracy.'
In exactly the same way, our German pacifist will accept in silence the bloodiest rape of our nation at-the hands of the most vicious military powers if a change in this state of affairs can be achieved only by resistance-that is, force-for this would be contrary to the spirit of his peace society. Let the international German socialist be plundered in solidarity by the rest of the world, he will accept it with brotherly affection and no thought of retribution or even defense, just because he is-a German.
This may be a sad state of affairs, but to change a thing means to recognize it first.
The same is true of the weak defense of German interests by a part of the clergy.
It is neither malicious ill will in itself, nor is it caused, let us say, by commands from 'above'; no, in such a lack of national determination we see merely the result of an inadequate education in Germanism from childhood up and, on the other hand, an unlimited submission to an idea which has become an idol.
Education in democracy, in socialism of the international variety, in pacifism, etc., is a thing so rigid and exclusive, so purely subjective from these points of view, that the general picture of the remaining world is colored by this dogmatic conception, while the attitude toward Germanism has remained exceedingly objective from early youth. Thus, the pacifist, by giving himself subjectively and entirely to his idea, will, in the presence of any menace to his people, be it ever so grave and unjust, always (in so far as he is a German) seek after the objective right and never from pure instinct of self-preservation join the ranks of his herd and fight with them.
To what extent this is also true of the different religions is shown by the following:
Protestantism as such is a better defender of the interests of Germanism, in so far as this is grounded in its Genesis and later tradition: it fails, however, in the moment when this defense of national interests must take place in a province which is either absent from the general line of its ideological world and traditional development, or is for some reason rejected.
Thus, Protestantism will always stand up for the advancement of all Germanism as such, as long as matters of inner purity or national deepening as well as German freedom are involved since all these things have a firm foundation in its own being; but it combats with the greatest hostility any attempt to rescue the nation from the embrace of its most mortal enemy, since its attitude toward the Jews just happens to be more or less dogmatically established. Yet here we are facing the question without whose solution all other attempts at a German reawakening or resurrection are and remain absolutely senseless and impossible.
In my Vienna period I had leisure and opportunity enough for an unprejudiced examination of this question too, and in my daily contacts was able to establish the correctness of this view a thousand times over.
In this focus of the most varied nationalities, it immediately becomes clearly apparent that the German pacifist is alone in always attempting to view the interests of his own nation objectively, but that the Jew will never regard those of the Jewish people in this way; that only the German Socialist is linternaticnal' in a sense which forbids him to beg justice for his own people except by whimpering and whining in the midst of his international comrades, but never a Czech or a Pole, etc.; in short, I recognized even then that the misfortune lies only partly in these doctrines, and partly in our totally inadequate education in national sentiment and a resultant lack of devotion to our nation.
Thus, the first theoretical foundation for a struggle of the PanGerman movement against Catholicism as such was lacking.
Let the German people be raised from childhood up with that exclusive recognition of the rights of their own nationality, and let not the hearts of children be contaminated with the curse of our 'objectivity,' even in matters regarding the preservation of their own ego. Then in a short time it will be seen that (presupposing, of course, a radically national government) in Germany, as in Ireland, Poland, or France, the Catholic will always be a German.
The mightiest proof of this was provided by that epoch which for the last time led our nation into a life-and-death struggle before the judgment seat of history in defense of its own existence.
As long as leadership from above was not lacking, the people fulfilled their duty and obligation overwhelmingly. Whether Protestant pastor or Catholic priest, both together contributed infinitely in maintaining for so long our power to resist, not only at the front but also at home. In these years and particularly at the first flare, there really existed in both camps but a single holy German Reich, for whose existence and future each man turned to his own heaven.
The Pan-German movement in Austria should have asked itself one question:
Is the preservation of German-Austrianism possible under a Catholic faith, or is it not? If yes, the political party had no right to concern itself with religious or denominational matters; if not, then what was needed was a religious reformation and never a political party.
Anyone who thinks he can arrive at a religious reformation by the detour of a political organization only shows that he has no glimmer of knowledge of the development of religious ideas or dogmas and their ecclesiastical consequences.
Verily a man cannot serve two masters. And I consider the foundation or destruction of a religion far greater than the foundation or destruction of a state, let alone a party.
And let it not be said that this is only a defense against the attacks from the other side!
It is certain that at all times unscrupulous scoundrels have not shunned to make even religion the instrument of their political bargains (for that is what such rabble almost always and exclusively deal in): but just as certainly it is wrong to make a religious denomination responsible for a
number of tramps who abuse it in exactly the same way as they would probably make anything else serve their low instincts.
Nothing can better suit one of these parliamentarian good-for-nothings and lounge-lizards than when an opportunity is offered to justify his political swindling, even after the fact.
For as soon as religion or even denomination is made responsible for his personal vices and attacked on that ground, this shameless liar sets up a great outcry and calls the whole world to witness that his behavior has been completely justified and that he alone and his eloquence are to be thanked for saving religion of the Church. The public, as stupid as it is forgetful, is, as a rule, prevented by the very outcry from recognizing the real instigator of the struggle or else has forgotten him, and the scoundrel has to all intents and purposes achieved his goal.
The sly fox knows perfectly well that this has nothing to do with religion; and he will silently laugh up his sleeve while his honest but clumsy opponent loses the game and one day, despairing of the loyalty and faith of humanity, withdraws from it all.
And in another sense it would be unjust to make religion as such or even the Church responsible for the failings of individuals. Compare the greatness of the visible organization before our eyes with the average fallibility of man in general, and you will have to admit that in it the relation of good and evil is better than anywhere else. To be sure, even among the priests themselves there are those to whom their holy office is only a means of satisfying their political ambition, yes, who in political struggle forget, in a fashion which is often more than deplorable that they are supposed to be the guardians of a higher truth and not the representatives of lies and slander-but for one such unworthy priest there are a thousand and more honorable ones, shepherds most loyally devoted to their mission, who, in our present false and decadent period, stand out of the general morass like little islands.
No more than I condemn, or would be justified in condemning, the Church as such when a degenerate individual in a cassock obscenely transgresses against morality, do I condemn it when one of the many others besmirches and betrays his nationality at a time when this is a daily occurrence anyway. Particularly today, we must not forget that for one such Ephialtes there are thousands who with bleeding heart feel the misfortune of their people and like the best of our nation long for the hour in which Heaven will smile on us again.
And if anyone replies that here we are not concerned with such everyday problems, but with questions of principle and truth or dogmatic content, we can aptly counter with another question:
If you believe that you have been chosen by Fate to reveal the truth in this matter, do so; but then have the courage to do so, not indirectly through a political party-for this is a swindle; but for today's evil substitute your future good.
But if you lack courage, or if your good is not quite clear even to yourself, then keep your fingers out of the matter; in any case, do not attempt by roundabout sneaking through a political movement to do what you dare not do with an open vizor.
Political parties have nothing to do with religious problems, as long as these are not alien to the nation, undermining the morals and ethics of the race; just as religion cannot be amalgamated with the scheming of political parties.
When Church dignitaries make use of religious institutions or doctrines to injure their nation, we must never follow them on this path and fight with the same methods.
For the political leader the religious doctrines and institutions of his people trust always remain inviolable; or else he has no right to be in politics, but should become a reformer, if he has what it takes!
Especially in Germany any other attitude would lead to a catastrophe.
In my study of the Pan-German movement and its struggle against Rome, I then, and even more in the years to come, arrived at the following conviction: This movement's inadequate appreciation of the importance of the social problem cost it the truly militant mass of the people; its entry into parliament took away its mighty impetus and burdened it with all the weaknesses peculiar to this institution; the struggle against the Catholic Church made it impossible in numerous small and middle circles, and thus robbed it of countless of the best elements that the nation can call its own.
The practical result of the Austrian Kulturkampf At was next to
To be sure, it succeeded in tearing some hundred thousand members away from the Church, yet without causing it any particular damage. In this case the Church really had no need to shed tears over the lost 'lambs'; for it lost only those who had long ceased to belong to it. The difference between the new reformation and the old one was that in the old days many of the best people in the Church turned away from it through profound religious conviction, while now only those who were lukewarm to begin with departed, and this from 'considerations' of a political nature.
And precisely from the political standpoint the result was just as laughable as it was sad.
Once again a promising political movement for the salvation of the German nation had gone to the dogs because it had not been led with the necessary cold ruthlessness, but had lost itself in fields which could only lead to disintegration.
For one thing is assuredly true:
The Pan-German movement would never have made this mistake but for its insufficient understanding of the psyche of the broad masses. If its leaders had known that to achieve any success one should, on purely psychological grounds, never show the masses two or more opponents, since this leads to a total disintegration of their fighting power, for this reason alone the thrust of the Pan-German movement would have been directed at a single adversary. Nothing is more dangerous for a political party than to be led by those jacks-of-all-trades who want everything but can never really achieve anything.
Regardless how much room for criticism there was in any religious denomination a political party must never for a moment lose sight of the fact that in all previous historical experience a purely political party in such situations had never succeeded in producing a religious reformation. And the aim of studying history is not to forget its lessons when occasion arises for its practical application, or to decide that the present situation is different after all, and that therefore its old eternal truths are no longer applicable; no, the purpose of studying history is precisely its lesson for the present. The man who cannot do this must not conceive of himself as a political leader; in reality he is a shallow, though usually very conceited, fool, and no amount of good will can excuse his practical incapacity.
In general the art of all truly great national leaders at all times consists among other things primarily in not dividing the attention of a people, but in concentrating it upon a single foe. The more unified the application of a people's will to fight, the greater will be the magnetic attraction of a movement and the mightier will be the impetus of the thrust. It belongs to the genius of a great leader to make even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category, because in weak and uncertain characters the knowledge of having different enemies can only too readily lead to the beginning of doubt in their own right.
Once the wavering mass sees itself in a struggle against too many enemies, objectivity will put in an appearance, throwing open the question whether all others are really wrong and only their own people or their own movement are in the right.
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler: Chapters Below.
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