The fight of the year 1914 was certainly not forced upon the masses, good God! but desired by the entire people itself.
One wanted at last to make an end to the general uncertainty. Only thus is it understandable that for this most serious of all struggles more than two million German men and boys joined the flag voluntarily, ready to protect it with their last drop of blood.
To me personally those hours appeared like the redemption from the annoying moods of my youth. Therefore I am not ashamed today to say that, overwhelmed by impassionate enthusiasm, I had fallen on my knees and thanked Heaven out of my overflowing heart that it had granted me the good fortune of being allowed to live in these times.
A struggle for freedom had broken out, greater than the world had ever seen before; because, once Fate had begun its course, the conviction began to dawn on the great masses that this time the question involved was not Serbia's or Austria's fate, but the existence or non-existence of the German nation.
For the last time in many years, the German nation had become clairvoyant about its own future. Thus, at the very beginning of the enormous struggle the intoxication of the exuberant enthusiasm was mixed with the necessary serious undertone; for this realization alone made the national rising become something greater than a mere bonfire. But this was only too necessary; even then one had no idea of the possible length and duration of the struggle now beginning. One dreamt of being home again in winter to continue work in renewed peace.
What man desires, he hopes and believes. The overwhelming majority of the nation had long been tired of the eternally uncertain state of things; thus one could only too readily understand that one no longer believed in a peaceful adjustment of the Austro-Serbian conflict, but hoped for the final settlement. I, too, belonged to these millions.
Hardly had the news of the assassination spread in Munich, when two ideas immediately entered my head: first, that war would now at last be unavoidable, and further, that the Habsburg State would be forced to keep the alliance; for what I had always feared most was the possibility that one day Germany herself, perhaps just in consequence of this alliance, would be entangled in a conflict without Austria being the direct cause for this, but that in such a case the Austrian State, for domestic political reasons, would not summon the energy to decide to stand by its ally. The Slav majority would certainly immediately have begun to sabotage such an intention by the State itself, and would certainly have preferred to smash the entire State into bits rather than to give the required help to the ally. This danger, however, was now averted. The old State had to fight whether it wanted to or not.