"God Is With Us"

By Kaiser Wilhelm II

[The New York Times/Current History, September 1915]

Emperor William II issued the following manifesto from German Army Headquarters on Sunday, Aug. 1, 1915:

One year has elapsed since I was l obliged to call to arms the German people. An unprecedented time of bloodshed has befallen Europe and the world.

Before God and history my conscience is clear. I did not will the war.

After preparations for a whole decade the coalition powers, to whom Germany had become too great, believed that the moment had come to humiliate the empire, which loyally stood by her Austro-Hungarian ally in a just cause, or to crush it in an overwhelming circle. No lust for conquest, as I already announced a year ago, has driven us into the war.

When in the days of August all able-bodied men were rushed to the colors and troops were marched into a defensive war, every German on earth felt, in accordance with the unanimous example of the Reichstag, that it was a fight for the highest good of the nation, its life, its freedom. What awaited us if the force succeeded in determining the fate of our people and of Europe has been shown in the hardship endured by my dear province, East Prussia.

The consciousness that the fight was forced upon us accomplished miracles. Political conflict of opinion became silent; old opponents began to understand and esteem each other; the spirit of true comradeship governed the entire people.

Full of gratitude, we can say today that God was with us. The enemy armies who boasted that they would enter Berlin in a few months are with heavy blows driven back far east and west. Numberless battlefields in various parts of Europe, and naval battles off near and distant coasts, testify what German anger in self-defense and German strategy can do. No violation of international law by our enemies will be able to shake the economic foundation of our conduct of the war.

The communities of agriculture, industry, commerce, science, and technical art have endeavored to soften the stress of war. Appreciating the necessity of measures for the free intercourse of goods, and wholly devoted to the care of their brethren in the field, the population at home has strained all its energies to parrying the common danger.

With deep gratitude the Fatherland today and always will remember its warriors those who, defying death, show a hold front to the enemy; those who, wounded or ill, return; those, above all, who rest from battle on foreign soil or at the bottom of the sea. With mothers, widows, and orphans I feel grief for the beloved who have died for their Fatherland.

Internal strength and a unanimous national will in the spirit of the founders of the empire guarantee victory. The dikes they erected in anticipation that we once more should have to defend that which we gained in 1870 have defied the highest tide in the world's history.

After unexampled proofs of personal ability and national energy, I cherish the bright confidence that the German people, faithfully preserving the purification acquired through war, will vigorously proceed on the tried old ways and confidently enter the new.

Great trials make the nation reverent and firm of heart. In heroic action we suffer and work without wavering until peace comes; peace which offers us the necessary military and political economies and guarantees for a future which fulfills the conditions for the unhindered development of our producing energy at home and on the free seas.

Thus we shall emerge with honor from a war for Germany's right and freedom, however long the war may last, and be worthy of victory before God, who, we pray, may bless henceforth our arms.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013

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