GHDI logo

The German Naval Office and Public Opinion (September 24, 1900)
page 2 of 8


c) proposing and supporting all efforts by which the importance and responsibilities of the navy can be brought home to the German people by way of speech, the written word, and pictures.

d) suggesting to important men from the scientific and political world that they become involved in educational work on their own, procuring and compiling material and providing it to such individuals;

e) publishing scholarly works about the naval interests of a state and how to protect them –namely from historical and economic as much as military-maritime perspectives – partly in essays in leading papers, weeklies, and monthlies, and partly in books (Nauticus-Schriften). The material was created in part by the News Office itself, in part with the assistance of permanent collaborators, whose numbers have grown over the years. From the summer of 1897 to the spring of 1898, and from the fall of 1899 to the spring of 1900, the activity was a heightened – and at times polemical and agitational – one; by contrast, from the spring of 1898 to the fall of 1899, and in the spring of 1900, it was calmer and educational. The calmer period saw, among other things, the creation of the Yearbooks for German Maritime Interests (Nauticus).

Considering that the entire matter is a novelty, success came fairly quickly. This can be seen today if one follows maritime issues in the daily press and magazines. It becomes apparent that, compared with earlier times, a lot more is being produced both quantitatively and qualitatively. Today, the vast majority of the above-mentioned population circles approve of the government's naval program, and some go even further. Many collaborators, both invited and unbidden, helped in spreading these ideas, so that later (1898/1900) it was only necessary to set the basic tone from time to time, to support literary publications, or to prevent or subdue undesirable, politically imprudent, or rash statements. It was striking how quickly it proved possible to persuade the relevant circles of the correctness of the direction to be taken in expanding the fleet (construction of line-of-battle ships). Scattered attempts – also by experts – to challenge this failed. Today, I believe that the idea of building line-of-battle ships as the foundation for the expansion of the fleet is supported virtually without reservation – also within naval officers’ circles. In lay circles, at any rate, this direction is seen as natural and given.

On the occasion of the campaign in the winter of 1899/1900, vigorous efforts were also begun to interest broader segments of the population in the naval question. The undeniable success in this is that portions of the masses have also at least considered this question.

Various signs indicate that not only has an interest as such been awakened, but a favorable interest, and in some places also a certain understanding of the importance of these questions. If one studies the Social Democratic essays that were written in complete opposition back then, one often gets the impression that the authors sought to support their divergent opinion with merely artificial means.

First Page < Previous   |   Next > Last Page