Someone has put the words in my mouth: “Please, no domestic crisis!” I have denied saying these silly words, but I keep hearing them attributed to me. I have naturally said nothing of the sort (“Hear! Hear!” from the right). There are situations in which shrinking from a crisis shows a lack of courage and betrays one’s sense of duty (a spirited “Bravo” from the right and the National Liberals). If you like: here is your crisis! (“Bravo!” from the right.) Parties can accept or reject demands since they assume no responsibility (Ooh!). They assume no responsibility! The government must not be swayed by the desires and interests of individual parties if its highest duty, its duty to the nation, is at stake (“Bravo!” from the right).
Just a few minutes ago, I was also informed of the rumor that, as far as this matter is concerned, I am not pushing, but being pushed – I am giving in to directives from the highest office. It is also being said that the guerilla war in Southwest Africa is a kind of military sport. Gentlemen, this is an impudent lie! No one is leading me; no one is urging me on. I don’t need any directive to recognize that there is a national imperative here (loud applause from the right). I need no directive to proceed solely on this basis.
It is not at all a question of self-discipline. It is not a question of opposition between parliamentary and personal resolve. It is a question of the conviction of allied governments, which the Chancellor has adopted after conscientious deliberation. It is a question of our stature in colonial politics (“So true!” from the right and the National Liberals), and beyond this, of our international stature (protests from the Social Democrats). Gentlemen, do you believe that this will not have repercussions abroad? (“That’s right!” from the right.) What kind of impression would it make, both at home and abroad, if the government were to capitulate in a situation like this, in a matter like this, and not find the strength to fulfill its duty to the nation (loud applause on the right and the left). We will do our duty – with trust in the German people! (Wild, lasting applause – hisses from the Social Democrats.)
Source: Stenographische Berichte über die Verhandlungen des Reichstages [Stenographic Reports of Reichstag Proceedings], X LP, 218: p. 4379.
Original German text also reprinted in Hans Fenske, ed., Quellen zur deutschen Innenpolitik 1890-1914 [Sources on German Domestic Politics 1890-1914]. Darmstadt, 1991, pp. 203-04.
Translation: Adam Blauhut