Militarism - PDF book by Karl Paul Liebknecht

 Militarism (1917)


This book, which is now presented to American readers for the first time, has a unique history and forms a vital part of Liebknecht's long struggle against militarism.

 In September 1906, Dr Karl Liebknecht, the author, delivered a lecture on "Militarism" at a conference of young people in Germany. The revised lecture was published in book form and the most important portions appear on the following pages. 

For some time, the German authorities paid little heed to it, and it was not until April 23, 1907, that the book was confiscated and the author charged with treason.
imperial Court declared that Liebknecht aimed at the abolition of the standing army and that this army was an integral part of the nation's constitution. In one statement, made in the latter part of his lecture, he had theorized concerning the possible future activities of the troops in be- half of the coming revolution, asserting that these activities might be regarded as the logical result of the demoralization of the military spirit. From this statement, which was a purely theoretical hypothesis, the Imperial Court concluded that Liebknecht's intention was to injure the morale of the army.

 The destruction of this morale, it declared, could be brought about only by forcible means, and the use of such means was but the first step in the destruction of the constitution. 

The court paid absolutely no attention to the statement of the author that only lawful means should be used in bringing about the change, and that no agitation should be conducted which would incite the soldiers directly or indirectly to disobedience. The Socialist Party, Liebknecht had maintained, as in the past, should energetically defend the private soldiers and the non-commissioned officers, should represent their material and professional interests in the press and in parliament and should endeavour tactfully to win the sympathies of these circles. In such remarks, a German Imperial Court discovered high treason!

The trial was one of the most sensational ever held in Europe. The Kaiser, it was afterwards learned, was kept constantly in touch with the progress of the trial by a special wire. The attorney general urged the accused to plead guilty and promised, if this were done, to ask the court for clemency. To this plea, Liebknecht quickly retorted, "I take entire responsibility for every word I have written." On the second day of the trial, the defendant declared in open court that he was convinced that a verdict of guilty had already been decided on. His address to the judges was one of the clearest, most incisive and boldest attacks ever made against German militarism.

Militarism is the belief or the desire of a government or a people that a state should maintain a strong military capability and use it aggressively to expand national interests or values

Publication date: 1917

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