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Frederick William III's Call for National Mobilization, "To My People" (March 17, 1813)

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Great sacrifices will be demanded from every class of the people, for our undertaking is a great one, and the number and resources of our enemies far from insignificant. But would you not rather make these sacrifices for the fatherland and for your own rightful king than for a foreign ruler, who, as he has shown by many examples, will use you and your sons and your uttermost farthing for ends which are nothing to you? Faith in God, perseverance, and the powerful aid of our allies will bring us victory as the reward of our honest efforts.

Whatever sacrifices may be required of us as individuals, they will be outweighed by the sacred rights for which we make them, and for which we must fight to a victorious end unless we are willing to cease to be Prussians or Germans.

This is the final, the decisive struggle; upon it depends our independence, our prosperity, our existence. There are no other alternatives but an honorable peace or a heroic end. You would willingly face even the latter for honor's sake, for without honor no Prussian or German could live. However, we may confidently await the outcome. God and our own firm purpose will bring victory to our cause and with it an assured and glorious peace and the return of happier times.


Breslau, March 17, 1813

Source of English translation: James Harvey Robinson, Readings in European History, A collection of extracts from the sources chosen with the purpose of illustrating the progress of culture in Western Europe since the German Invasions, Volume II. Boston, New York, Chicago, London: Ginn & Company, 1904-06, pp. 522-23.

Source of original German text: Schlesische Priviligirte Zeitung, March 20, 1813, no. 34, pp. 1.

Reprinted in Walter Demel and Uwe Puschner, eds., Von der Französischen Revolution bis zum Wiener Kongreß 1789-1815 [From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna, 1789-1815], Deutsche Geschichte in Quellen und Darstellung, edited by Rainer A. Müller, vol. 6. Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 1995, pp. 413-16.

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