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"We Germans Fear God and Nothing Else in the World!": Bismarck Addresses the Reichstag (February 6, 1888)

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I am, therefore, not in favor of any kind of an aggressive war, and if war could result only from our attack – somebody must kindle a fire, we shall not kindle it.


Neither the consciousness of our strength, which I have described, nor our confidence in our treaties, will prevent us from continuing our former endeavors to preserve peace. In this we do not permit ourselves to be influenced by annoyances or dislikes. The threats and insults, and the challenges, which have been made have, no doubt, excited also with us a feeling of irritation,

(Very true!)

which does not easily happen with Germans, for they are less prone to national hatred than any other nation. We are, however, trying to calm our countrymen, and we shall work for peace with our neighbors, especially with Russia, in the future as well as in the past. [ . . . ]

To sum up: I do not believe in an immediate interruption of peace, and I ask you to discuss this bill independently of such a thought or apprehension, looking upon it as a means of making the great strength which God has placed in the German nation fully available. If we do not need all the troops, it is not necessary to summon them. We are trying to avoid the contingency when we shall need them.

This attempt is as yet made rather difficult for us by the threatening newspaper articles in the foreign press, and I should like to admonish these foreign editors to discontinue such threats. They do not lead anywhere. The threats which we see made – not by the governments, but by the press – are really incredibly stupid,


when we stop to reflect that the people making them imagine they could frighten the proud and powerful German empire by certain intimidating figures made by printer’s ink and shallow words.


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