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Ludwig Bamberger on Hopes for Parliamentary Government under Kaiser Friedrich III (March 31, 1888)

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It is a peculiar thing – this thing that one would have to call monarchical devotion to the German Kaiser. At some point in the past, when someone appealed to this sentiment in the Reichstag with some political purpose in mind, the Swabian Democrat Payer responded in his typically witty and biting way by declaring the appeal a serious affront to the loyalty he felt to the ancestral sovereign lord of Württemberg, since his loyal heart was devoted to the latter, both as a matter of nature and of law. Actually, a solidly imperialistic heart can no longer be an equally good Württembergian or – as observation shows – Prussian heart. Three hearts and one beat – that is too much to ask for. Consequently, it takes a bit of republicanism to be imperially disposed; it requires pinching something off the state dynasty and transferring it to the imperial head. Hence, a Liberal is more likely than a non-Liberal to have a solidly imperial attitude. There is something inherently republican about every federation, even one consisting of monarchs. The Reich of the allied German governments is a republic of crowned heads, at the top of which stands the Kaiser, known as primus inter pares*. The more one thinks in a solidly imperial way, the more one must desire to see this priority become a reality, to become a truly monarchical leadership above all others, not among equals. In order to be solidly pro-imperial one has to forfeit part of his attachment to his own particular local region. Conversely, it follows that zealous state monarchists take a dubious attitude toward the Reich.

Thus, one can rightly say that the best Liberals are also the best imperialists. But of course, this attitude has not grown from any mystical sentimentality. It is the product of political consideration, but one that has been handed down so firmly and is so irrefutably correct that it has itself become part of the emotional makeup. In 1870, anyone who desired the rebirth of Germany as a great and free nation was only capable of understanding that idea under the auspices of Kaiser and Reichstag.

And hence, over the brief course of years, a monarchical cult, powerful and brimming with life, has arisen among the people. It is driven by a curious force, despite the fact that this emperorship did not establish itself in keeping with monarchical traditions, which are, in our history, based on election. Our children grow up in the political religion of imperial rule, in reverence for the person of the Kaiser – and something akin to religion always has to be involved when a particular form of existence is implanted in the realm of reality. Man does not live on the bread of reason alone; the wine of imagination has its proper place too.

* First among equals – trans.

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