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The War That Will End War

The War That Will End War
Title: The War That Will End War
Release Date: 2018-07-10
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The War That Will End War

The War That Will End War
H. G. Wells
Author of “Tono-Bungay,” “The New
Machiavelli,” “Marriage,” etc.
New York
Duffield & Company
Copyright 1914


I Why Britain went to War 9
II The Sword of Peace 16
III Hands off the People’s Food 23
IV Concerning Mr. Maximilian Craft 32
V The Most Necessary Measures in the World 40
VI The Need of a New Map of Europe 50
VII The Opportunity of Liberalism 60
VIII The Liberal Fear of Russia 69
IX An Appeal to the American People 80
X Common Sense and the Balkan States 89
XI The War of the Mind 97


The cause of a war and the object of a war arenot necessarily the same. The cause of this warwas the invasion of Luxemburg and Belgium. Wedeclared war because we were bound by treaty todeclare war. We have been pledged to protect theintegrity of Belgium since the kingdom of Belgiumhas existed. If the Germans had not brokenthe guarantees they shared with us to respect theneutrality of these little States we should certainlynot be at war at the present time. The fortifiedeastern frontier of France could have been heldagainst any attack without any help from us. Wehad no obligations and no interests there. Wewere pledged to France simply to protect her froma naval attack by sea, but the Germans had alreadygiven us an undertaking not to make such an attack.It was our Belgian treaty and the suddenoutrage on Luxemburg that precipitated us into thisconflict. No Power in the world would have respected10our Flag or accepted our national wordagain if we had not fought. So much for the immediatecause of the war.

But now we come to the object of this war. Webegan to fight because our honour and our pledgeobliged us; but so soon as we are embarked uponthe fighting we have to ask ourselves what is theend at which our fighting aims. We cannot simplyput the Germans back over the Belgian border andtell them not to do it again. We find ourselves atwar with that huge military empire with which wehave been doing our best to keep the peace sincefirst it rose upon the ruins of French Imperialism in1871. And war is mortal conflict. We have noweither to destroy or be destroyed. We have notsought this reckoning, we have done our utmost toavoid it; but now that it has been forced upon usit is imperative that it should be a thorough reckoning.This is a war that touches every man andevery home in each of the combatant countries. Itis a war, as Mr. Sidney Low has said, not of soldiersbut of whole peoples. And it is a war that mustbe fought to such a finish that every man in eachof the nations engaged understands what has happened.There can be no diplomatic settlement thatwill leave German Imperialism free to explain awayits failure to its people and start new preparations.We have to go on until we are absolutely done for,or until the Germans as a people know that they are11beaten, and are convinced that they have had enoughof war.

We are fighting Germany. But we are fightingwithout any hatred of the German people. We donot intend to destroy either their freedom or theirunity. But we have to destroy an evil system ofgovernment and the mental and material corruptionthat has got hold of the German imaginationand taken possession of German life. We have tosmash the Prussian Imperialism as thoroughly asGermany in 1871 smashed the rotten Imperialismof Napoleon III. And also we have to learn fromthe failure of that victory to avoid a vindictive triumph.

This Prussian Imperialism has been for fortyyears an intolerable nuisance in the earth. Eversince the crushing of the French in 1871 the evilthing has grown and cast its spreading shadow overEurope. Germany has preached a propaganda ofruthless force and political materialism to the wholeuneasy world. “Blood and iron,” she boasted, wasthe cement of her unity, and almost as openly thelittle, mean, aggressive statesmen and professorswho have guided her destinies to this present conflicthave professed cynicism and an utter disregardof any ends but nationally selfish ends, as though itwere religion. Evil just as much as good may bemade into a Cant. Physical and moral brutalityhas indeed become a cant in the German mind, and12spread from Germany throughout the world. Icould wish it were possible to say that Englishand American thought had altogether escaped itscorruption. But now at last we shake ourselvesfree and turn upon this boasting wickedness to ridthe world of it. The whole world is tired of it.And “Gott!”—Gott so perpetually invoked—Gottindeed must be very tired of it.

This is already the vastest war in history. Itis war not of nations, but of mankind. It is awar to exorcise a world-madness and end an age.

And note how this Cant of public rottenness hashad its secret side. The man who preaches cynicismin his own business transactions had better keepa detective and a cash register for his clerks; and itis the most natural thing in the world to find thatthis system, which is outwardly vile, is also inwardlyrotten. Beside the Kaiser stands the firm ofKrupp, a second head to the State; on the very stepsof the throne is the armament trust, that organisedscoundrelism which has, in its relentless propagandafor profit, mined all the security of civilisation,brought up and dominated a Press, ruled a nationalliterature, and corrupted universities.

Consider what the Germans have been, and whatthe Germans can be. Here is a race which hasfor its chief fault docility and a belief in teachersand rulers. For the rest, as all who know it intimatelywill testify, it is the most amiable of peoples.13It is naturally kindly, comfort-loving, child-loving,musical, artistic, intelligent. In countless respectsGerman homes and towns and countrysides are themost civilised in the world. But these people dida little lose their heads after the victories of thesixties and seventies, and there began a propagandaof national vanity and national ambition. It wasorganised by a stupidly forceful statesman, it wasfostered by folly upon the throne. It was guardedfrom wholesome criticism by an intolerant censorship.It never gave sanity a chance. A certainpatriotic sentimentality lent itself only too readilyto the suggestion of the flatterer, and so there grewup this monstrous trade in weapons. German patriotismbecame an “interest,” the greatest of the“interests.” It developed a vast advertisementpropaganda. It subsidised Navy Leagues andAerial Leagues, threatening the world. Mankind,we saw too late, had been guilty of an incalculablefolly in permitting private men to make a profit outof the dreadful preparations for war. But the evilwas started; the German imagination was capturedand enslaved. On every other European countrythat valued its integrity there was thrust the overwhelmingnecessity to arm and drill—and still toarm and drill. Money was withdrawn from education,from social progress, from business enterprise,and art and scientific research, and from every kindof happiness; life was drilled and darkened.

14So that the harvest of this darkness comes nowalmost as a relief, and it is a grim satisfaction inour discomforts that we can at last look across theroar and torment of battlefields to the possibilityof an organised peace.

For this is now a war for peace.

It aims straight at disarmament. It aims at asettlement that shall stop this sort of thing forever. Every soldier who fights against Germanynow is a crusader against war. This, the greatestof all wars, is not just another war—it is the lastwar! England, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, andall the little countries of Europe, are heartily sickof war; the Tsar has expressed a passionate hatredof war; the most of Asia is unwarlike; the UnitedStates has no illusions about war. And never waswar begun so joyously, and never was war begunwith so grim a resolution. In England, France,Belgium, Russia, there is no thought of glory.

We know we face unprecedented slaughter andagonies; we know that for neither side will therebe easy triumphs or prancing victories. Already,in that warring sea of men, there is famine as wellas hideous butchery, and soon there must come disease.

Can it be otherwise?

We face, perhaps, the most awful winter thatmankind has ever faced.

But we English and our allies, who did not seek15this catastrophe, face it with anger and determinationrather than despair.

Through this war we have to march, throughpain, through agonies of the spirit worse than pain,through seas of blood and filth. We English havenot had things kept from us. We know what waris; we have no delusions. We have read booksthat tell us of the stench of battlefields, and the natureof wounds, books that Germany suppressed andhid from her people. And we face these horrorsto make an end of them.

There shall be no more Kaisers, there shall beno more Krupps, we are resolved. That fooleryshall end!

And not simply the present belligerents mustcome into the settlement.

All America, Italy, China, the ScandinavianPowers, must have a voice in the final readjustment,and set their hands to the ultimate guarantees.I do not mean that they need fire a singleshot or load a single gun. But they must come in.And in particular to the United States do we lookto play a part in that pacification of the worldfor which our whole nation is working, and forwhich, by the thousand, men are now laying downtheir lives.



Europe is at war!

The monstrous vanity that was begotten by theeasy victories of '70 and '71 has challenged theworld, and Germany prepares to reap the harvestBismarck sowed. That trampling, drilling fooleryin the heart of Europe, that has arrested civilisationand darkened the hopes of mankind for forty years.German Imperialism, German militarism, has struckits inevitable blow. The victory of Germany willmean the permanent enthronement of the War Godover all human affairs. The defeat of Germanymay open the way to disarmament and peacethroughout the earth.

To those who love peace there can be no otherhope in the present conflict than the defeat, the utterdiscrediting of the German legend, the ending forgood and all of the blood and iron superstition, ofKrupp, flag-wagging Teutonic Kiplingism, and allthat criminal, sham efficiency that centres in Berlin.17Never was war so righteous as war against Germanynow. Never has any State in the world soclamoured for punishment.

But be it remembered that Europe’s quarrel iswith

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