Ludendorff urges Germans to prepare for war (1922)

In 1922, former military commander Erich Ludendorff, a prominent supporter of nationalist, far-right political groups, urged Germans to prepare for war:

“Internationalist, pacifist, defeatist thinking still predominates in Germany today, even though the world all around us bristles with weapons, sounds the war cry and fans up hatred against us. It is apparent that the current World Powers are only pausing for breath before renewing struggles amongst themselves and once again oppressing the weaker. Clemenceau himself described the Versailles Blackmail as a continuation of the war.

It’s what our enemies want, just as before 1914. Our thinking hinders us from seeing clearly the way the world really appears and keeps us from recognizing what we must do at home and abroad.

The following outline is intended to contribute to clarity and help us toward acquiring the political education that broad sections of the public of other nations possess. Until this happens, much work for the Fatherland will be in vain. Leaders who strive for the best for the German people will find no response in the masses, and the more they must rely upon them, the less real power they will actually be able to wield.

We must learn that we live in a warlike period and that war, for the individual being as well as the state, will remain a natural phenomenon, one also grounded in the divine order of the world:

“Every human life is a war in miniature. Within states, parties struggle for power against one another, just as nations do in the world. Ever shall it be thus. It is the Law of Nature. Enlightenment and higher human morality can ameliorate the struggle for power and the use of force but never eliminate them. That is contrary to the nature of man and ultimately Nature itself. Nature is struggle! If the Noble and the Good are not victorious, then the Ignoble thrusts forward, compelling the Noble, if it is not to suffer defeat, to defend itself through struggle and force. The Noble can only survive when it is strong.” This I wrote in my war memoirs.

If we are to put ourselves on this footing in our world of struggle, then once and for all we must reject the phrases that our enemies and our democrats of all stripes have preached to us, phrases such as eternal peace, disarmament, and the reconciliation of humanity – as though on the strength of these God’s world order could be overturned, the two-faced nature of man be mastered, and all worldly goods be set aside in favor of spiritual values alone.

Waging a war of liberation at the present time is not possible for us. No one knows this better than I, who himself has waged war and done everything to prevent the defenselessness of Germany. Our defenselessness before the violent actions of our enemies we owe to the fearsome disaster of Versailles. Horror overcomes me when I think of it.

This insight belongs to the political education of the German people just as surely as does the knowledge that war will remain the ultimate, the only decisive, means of policy. This manner of thinking, complemented by a manly enthusiasm for war, cannot be forbidden the German people by the Entente, even though it wants to take it from us. It is the foundation for comprehending anything political, the foundation of our future, even and especially for the enslaved Nation of the Germans. Its premise is that [Germany] wants to win back its autonomy, its freedom, its welfare, and its developmental possibilities; and it resists our enemies’ intention to have us resign ourselves in perpetuity to degradation, to let ourselves be stricken from the stage of world history, while in their customary fashion they base policy on power, violence, and war.

To this first building block of our political education must be added others. Every German must grasp the contours of real war so that he is never again, as he was in the world war, overwhelmed by its immensity. He must measure its strength according to the demands that engender a war, no matter what shape it assumes.

Once we are clear about our aims and what demands are appropriate to their realization, then we can get down to work. In the foreground there must be put in place a policy of reconstruction, the safeguarding and consolidation of the state, and the renewal of Nation’s strength and spirit. Such measures require the purposeful gathering of all the forces necessary to the self-assertion of the state: that is, the unyielding front of the German Nation in all its regions and callings, unified in deep Christian faith, glowing with love of the Fatherland and readiness for sacrifice to it, and in an optimism borne by consciousness of strength, desire, and duty – a united front like the army created by the Hohenzollern princes – even though bereft of arms!

Just as with the German army of the world war, this united front must be without class conflict, conflicts between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, between city and countryside, or any of the other numerous conflicts and differences that weaken the German Nation, such as mistrust of one another.

Within its ranks it must be fully decided who shall do his duty in fighting the enemy, while on the homefront profit will be sacrificed. Certainly, the frontline soldiers must be accorded first place in the united front, in memory of what service they rendered [in the war] and what was lost through the Revolution [of 1918].

We need a national economy free from compulsion and without limits on property ownership, which sees in employers only employees in the service of the German people and German state, and which accords to all employees their right to work and to profit.”