GHDI logo

"Patriotic Enlightenment" (May 10, 1917)

page 5 of 6    print version    return to list previous document      next document

Commemorative Celebrations.

Celebrations of great military victories offer voluntary auxiliary committees welcome opportunities to undertake enlightenment activity. Hopefully the opportunity will arise again in the near future for such events. The Enlightenment Officer of the Corps Command is particularly interested in having these voluntary associations take the occasion of 31 May to commemorate the Battle of Skagerrak [Jutland] in a simple ceremony, in keeping with the gravity of the times. The German people must be made aware that without the victory at Skagerrak – that is to say, without the victorious defense of our unharmed coasts – our submarine warfare against England would not be possible. The historical significance of this day in the war against England must be given special emphasis.

Word-of-Mouth Efforts by Our Agents.

Even more important than these kinds of enlightenment is influencing people by word-of-mouth efforts, from man to man, face to face. We would like to win as large a number of suitable people as possible, who would be active as agents of enlightenment in the army corps district and who would circulate materials supplied by us into the smallest popular channels. The principal candidates would be people who have already been successful in agitating on behalf of war bonds.


The field of activity that lies before us is extensive and difficult. The length of the war, the unprecedented demands that the war has made on each and every one, especially the difficulties concerning the food situation, which have been imposed on us by the English blockade, mean a very severe psychological test. The petty daily encounter with economic worries has made many of us tired and discouraged. The fire of enthusiasm has gone out for many. Egoism is becoming more pronounced, as it does in all times of danger. A certain nervousness about the war has taken hold of people and is restraining cheerful cooperation among all for the good of the whole. On top of this, the required conversion of our economy for war entails many difficulties and restraints, which do not always seem reasonable to the people and thus create unnecessary bitterness. New regulations are issued continually, in order to keep the machinery of our war economy going. What is proper today, is no longer so tomorrow. The authorities are not for the most part to blame; instead, the problem lies in the circumstances. On the one hand, there are innumerable opportunities to earn a great deal of money in a shady way, and on the other hand, shortage and anxiety lend a willing ear to unscrupulous insinuations. In this situation we need to enlighten, strengthen, advise, and help.


In spite of a yearning for peace that is only too understandable after three years of sacrifice and deprivation, the morale of our people is quite good. Still, regardless of some distressing minor phenomena, which life presents to us at this time, the full achievement of our German people appears to be immense. We are still too close to events to judge the full extent of this achievement.

first page < previous   |   next > last page