Quoted in Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War. While the extreme nationalist Hitler was extremely positive about the outbreak of the war, it is unlikely that such positive sentiment was shared with the rest of the Germany and Austria Hungary. Indeed, Ferguson’s first chapter argues that even in Germany, militarism was largely a myth, with a German socialist majority and quite widespread opposition to war.
Full Text Version:
The struggle of the year 1914 was not forced on the masses – no, by the living God – it was desired by the whole people.
People wanted at length to put an end to the general uncertainty. Only thus can it be understood that more than two million German men and boys thronged to the colours for this hardest of all struggles, prepared to defend the flag with the last drop of blood. To me, those hours seemed like a release from the painful feelings of my youth. Even today, I am not ashamed to say that, overpowered by stormy enthusiasm, I fell down on my knees and thanked Heaven from an overflowing heart for granting me the good fortune of being permitted to live at this time.
A fight for freedom had begun, mightier than the earth had ever seen … The overwhelming majority of the nation had long been weary of the eternally uncertain state of affairs… I too was one of these millions … My heart, like that of a million others, overflowed with proud joy … For me … there now began the greatest and most unforgettable time of my earthly existence. Compared to the events of this giant struggle, everything past receded to shallow nothingness…
A single worry tormented me at that time, me, as so many others: would we not reach the Front too late?