[ . . . ]
Many in the world today feel envy toward us (Protest on the left), both political and economic envy. There are individuals, there are interest groups, there are movements and perhaps even nations who believe that Germans were easier and more pleasant neighbors when, despite our education and culture, foreigners looked down on us in political and economic matters like arrogant noblemen looking at a humble tutor (“Rightly so!”; laughter).
This age of political impotence and economic and political humility must not be allowed to return (A loud “Bravo!”).
In the words of Friedrich List, we do not ever again want to be the slaves of humanity. But we will only be able to maintain a leading position if we recognize that there is no welfare for us without power, without a strong army, without a strong fleet (“That’s right!” from right; protest from the left).
Gentlemen, for a nation that will soon number sixty million, a nation that inhabits the center of Europe and is sending its economic feelers out in all directions, the means have not yet been devised to win the struggle for survival in this world without a strong navy and army (“Very true!” from the right).
In the coming century the German people will be either a hammer or an anvil.
[ . . . ]
Source: Buchners Kolleg Geschichte. Das Kaiserreich 1871 bis 1918 [Wilhelmine Germany 1871 to 1918]. Bamberg: CC. Buchners Verlag, 1987, p. 137 ff.
Original German text also reprinted on the World War I Document Archive website.
Translation: Adam Blauhut