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The Ideology of the Officer Corps (1889)

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This honorable, privileged position and the high regard that makes the German officer a nobleman in the eyes of the people represents, as it were, the spiritual reward for his meager pay. In the midst of our materialist, realist times, this constitutes the idealistic element among those of the officer class, who sacrifice their lives and health for loyalty to the king and love of the Fatherland and joyfully give their all for honor, while getting so little in return.
[ . . . ]

Both the bourgeois and the noble officer represent the same principle, the aristocratic Weltanschauung [world view] as opposed to the democratic one.

The young officer from a bourgeois family shows through his choice of the officer’s profession that, in terms of his education and views, he regards himself as belonging to the aristocracy of spirit and conviction that inspires the officer; that he wishes to belong to the modern knighthood that His Majesty demands from his officers. [ . . . ]

At the same time, the high standing of the officer as part of the first and most distinguished profession in the state imposes the most onerous responsibilities on him; for increased privileges are predicated exclusively on increased obligations. Noblesse oblige!

Whoever makes the officer’s profession his own also assumes its responsibilities; [he] adopts as his own the views that are inherent to the profession, that derive from its basic principle.

Whoever cannot share these views or subscribes to other principles must choose a different profession, unless he wishes to be a hypocrite. The basic convictions deriving from the ancient principles of the officer class are: a pro-dynastic attitude, unconditional loyalty to the person of the monarch, heightened patriotism, preservation of the status quo, defense of the royal prerogatives entrusted to his protection, and opposition to unpatriotic, anti-monarchical attitudes, etc. The first and foremost duty, the most beautiful virtue in the glorious wreath of the officer, is loyalty; it is at the same time his raison d’être.

“It is the noble person’s greatest luck
To serve a ruler that he honors.”

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