Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Instantly converted from Marx to Mars

From the Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman.
In Berlin on August 1, the crowds milling in the streets and massed in thousands in front of the palace were tense and heavy with anxiety. Socialism, which most of Berlin’s workers professed, did not run so deep as their instinctive fear and hatred of the Slavic hordes. Although they had been told by the Kaiser, in his speech from the balcony announcing Kriegesgefahr the evening before, that the “sword has been forced into our hand,” they still waited in the ultimate dim hope of a Russian reply. The hour of the ultimatum passed. A journalist in the crowd felt the air “electric with rumor. People told each other Russia had asked for an extension of time. The Bourse writhed in panic. The afternoon passed in almost insufferable anxiety.” Bethmann-Hollweg issued a statement ending, “If the iron dice roll, may God help us.” At five o’clock a policeman appeared at the palace gate and announced mobilization to the crowd, which obediently struck up the national hymn, “Now thank we all our God.” Cars raced down Unter den Linden with officers standing up in them, waving handkerchiefs and shouting, “Mobilization!” Instantly converted from Marx to Mars, people cheered wildly and rushed off to vent their feelings on suspected Russian spies, several of whom were pummeled or trampled to death in the course of the next few days.

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