The Great Teutonic Plan

By Professor Tomáš Masaryk

[The New York Times/Current History, April 1916]

Former Czech Deputy in the Austrian Reichsrat, now a Professor in King's College, London, M. Masaryk is the soul of a movement that aims to re-establish the independence of Bohemia. When asked how such an aim could fit in with the greater objects for which the Entente Allies are fighting, he said:

The most urgent task, naturally, is to expel the enemy from the territory he occupies, but it is indispensable that we should first have formulated a plan of what Europe should be like after the victory of the Allies. This plan will make it possible to render Germany harmless after she is beaten, and, even at the present stage of the war, it will give us the means of combating her.

The true German objective is to create, under the aegis of Berlin, a powerful confederation of States in Central Europe. It is expressed today in the Berlin-Bagdad formula, a creation of General von Moltke. As, before 1870, Prussia brought about the economic union of the German States in advance of their political union, so today it is under color of an economic association that the grand Teutonic plan is making its appearance. I will tell you its ultimate object:

It is to put 97,000,000 Austro-Hungarians, Turks, and Balkanites under German domination.

After Sadowa in 1866 Bismarck understood that it would be better for his purposes to keep Austria intact and in submission rather than to mutilate it and make it an enemy. That idea has been fruitful. Leading Austrians realize today that their country can exist only by leaning upon Germany. The real Austria without Germany has been beaten in this war by Russia and by Serbia. In saving Austria, Germany has organized it as one of its own provinces. To strengthen Austria is, strictly speaking, to work for the King of Prussia. To weaken Austria is to weaken Germany. To destroy Austria is to strike Germany to the heart, ruining its plan for Central Europe and cutting its famous Berlin-Bagdad line.

To say that Austria-Hungary is a guarantee of peace is folly. It was that empire which sowed the seeds of the present war on the day when, with the aid of Bismarck, it occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina and decided to play the role of German vanguard in the Balkans. To destroy Austria does not mean to destroy the nations that compose it. It is only the dynasty of the Hapsburgs, the slave of Germany, which it is necessary to banish, and, if it appears useful that the Austrian nations should remain confederated, let them be so, but under the aegis of the Entente Allies.

The fear is sometimes expressed that if Germany's Drang nach Osten is suppressed, it will create a Drang nach Westen; that is to say, in place of the pressure toward the Orient there will be a pressure toward the Occident. This is an error. Deprived of the support of Austria and Turkey, Germany is too weak to threaten the Western Powers. Believe me, the vulnerable point of Germany is Austria-Hungary.

If, at the end of the war, the Entente powers shall have declared categorically that all the Austrian Slavs are to be free, and the Hapsburg monarchy destroyed, Austria-Hungary, instead of being a source of strength to Germany, will prove to have been a heavy burden, and the whole orientation of subsequent events will have been modified.

I am well aware that certain political leaders imagine that some day Austria- Hungary will rise up against Germany. It is a fatal illusion. The Pan-Germanic current has triumphed as completely at Budapest as at Vienna. On the other hand, if, in place of being completely divided up, Austria lost merely the Polish and Ruthenian provinces to the profit of Russia, and the Adriatic regions to the profit of Italy, the Germans and Magyars, who would then be 20,000,000 against 10,000,000 Czechs and Slovaks, would tyrannize over us completely. I say this in reply to the allusions of some of my compatriots who imagine that in an Austria which has been simply diminished we could hold our place. There is one last objection advanced by those who believe the partition of Austria-Hungary would be harmful: it is that Germany would take over the Germans of Austria. My answer is that in that case the German Empire would be increased by 7,000,000 inhabitants, whereas by maintaining the Hapsburg monarchy you would be allowing the Kaiser to extend his sway over 51,000,000 new subjects.

In brief, the great Teutonic plan of the future, which menaces the existence of all the Allies, is the plan to make Germany mistress of Central Europe. I believe that the liberation of Central Europe ought to be the final object of the war. The normal organization of the nations which compose it is a work of creation that should be under the direction of France. We have long recognized your sympathy for Bohemia, and we expect from you from your moral prestige, which increases every day powerful and efficient aid. The new Europe will owe its birth to a positive and creative policy. A purely negative policy will not suffice to bring it into being.

You should strike at the defect in the enemy's armor by taking away the instruments which he wishes to use for purposes of world domination. The ruin of the Hapsburg monarchy is the surest means for reducing the German dreams to nothingness by reducing Germany itself to the limits of its own power.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013.

If you appreciate the articles, read the e-novel informed by them —


A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald

The Headlong Fury