Russia and Germany

Political and Military Reflections

Fresh forces going to the front from Moscow, December 1, 1941. Oleg Ignatovich / RIA Novosti archive

FUTURE historians may well consider the present Russo-German war as the last phase in the liquidation of all the blunders in international politics during the last thirty years. It will be a blessing if this liquidation leads Europe back to healthy conditions, to a peaceful rivalry among the members of the family of European nations. That is possible, of course, only if no new nationalism results from the present war, and this to some extent depends, in turn, upon modesty of aim on the part of those who are responsible for the peace. For there is no final political and economic remedy for all the evils resulting from the vagaries and mysteries of human nature. Anyone who plans a peace on the assumption that by certain legal or economic provisions he can eliminate the effects of human error and passion belongs to the same line as the Marxists and the totalitarian prophets.

It is strange that Russia and Germany should now have made war against each other twice within thirty years. For except for a short intermezzo at the time of the Seven Years' War there had never, until 1914, been a war between them. From time immemorial they have needed one another economically. There is hardly another instance of such close economic symbiosis. It began in the Middle Ages, when the Hanseatic towns produced the first signs of wealth in Russia and brought her into the orbit of European trade. The same towns introduced their own democratic conceptions (the first seen in Europe after the fall of ancient democracy) to western Russia. Riga, Mitau, Reval, even Kiev, had the same bill of rights as Soest, Lubeck and Magdeburg. Even later on, in the period of increasing nationalism, there was no necessity for a conflict so long as Germany could coördinate Russian and Austrian aims in the Balkans or, failing that, refused to support Austria-Hungary in any conflict with Russia resulting from the Dual Monarchy's expansionist tendencies towards the southeast. This

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