Translated from the 1937 special Wehrmacht edition of Die Weisheit des Soldaten by Dr. Bruno H. Jahn. Although the author affirms National Socialism, and especially the folk community concept, it is clear that he nonetheless has sympathy for more old-fashioned social norms as well as higher education.
Much is spoken and written in Germany today about soldiery and soldierly life – not quite as much as about heroism and heroic life, but still enough in order to here and there summon up the suspicion of mere intoxication with words. To soldiery belongs, above all, sober clarity, and any self-deception would have to have to bitterly avenge itself sooner or later. Bullets and shells do not let themselves be talked off their trajectory.
One does not need to interpret the foundations of his existence for the genuine soldier. Equanimity and energy derived from sure instinct are the prerequisites of his profession, and the articles of war, especially in their splendid new draft, can totally suffice for him as wisdom. But if an entire folk, if the entire German folk, after years of public seduction to shameless pacifism, is again supposed to be educated through soldiery to valor, a spiritual foundation must become a necessity.
And this all the more so as now a completed spiritual development had finally reached an unbridgeable opposition to valor and especially to its own German form, soldiery. But if one sees by it the value unit of life in the individual human being and believes in the equality of all human beings, then one must come to the conclusion that the sacrifices that soldiery demands are foolish, and furthermore, that the special task of the soldier, the task to kill the enemy, is unjustified and immoral – that the soldier who does his alleged duty is a “murderer”. As that has been stated often enough in the past decade.
Only in the spirit of nationalism now developing anew – its German special form is National Socialism – does soldiery as well find its place. If the individual is no longer considered as life unit, rather the natural community and as the highest thing the folk community, then the soldierly sacrifice is founded, and if the thriving of the folk community is the highest value, then the special task of the soldier is justified.
Soldiery as we know it today has its historical roots in knighthood as well as in the lansquenet. It received from that one the concept of fighting for a cause or an idea and the foundations of the concept of honor, from this one the concept of comradeship in struggle, from both, however, valor as profession. The actual development began with the establishment of the so-called standing armies and led in most European states to the essentially same result: to the professional soldier, who as skeleton of the armed forces had to train and in case of emergency lead the rest of the military capable populace with more or less brief military service period. In the World War this profession, which has its unique traits and its caste spirit like every other profession as well, passed its test almost everywhere.
The special stamp for soldiery, which consists not only of the unique traits of a life profession, rather represents a life form and a formative will, took place, however, only in Brandenburg-Prussia. Here, the soldier, under the leadership of a soldierly ruling family, became state builder and trained himself to become moral bearer in the task of forging together folk elements which a long historical development had pulled apart into the foundation of the armed forces, and hence into a state folk. The whole German resurrection since the beginning of the modern era from deepest disunity and impotence to the mighty German Reich is unthinkable without Prussian soldiery. From it, the meager Brandenburg-Prussian state, despite many blows by fate and failures, again and again gained the strength to fulfill its German mission. The internal and external enemies of German power recognized early enough and correctly accessed this unique wellspring of strength. As “Prussian militarism”, they have feared and hated Prussian-German soldiery. They sought by all means of slander and mockery to undermine it and believed they had finally achieved their goal in the Versailles Treaty of Shame.
But tenacity belongs to the primal essence of Prussians soldierly finally become German in general and the ability to gain inner strength from defeats. In compelled narrowness, which according to the will of the enemy was supposed to pave the way to its total collapse through spiritual inbreeding and caste system, it shaped itself anew, remembered its own virtues and was on the spot when folk and Führer called.