Posted by: cousindampier | 24 October 2009

The German Soldier

Among the different books I’m currently reading, John Laffin’s Jackboot is where much of my focus lies. The reason for that lies in the theme of the book:

“No, the Germans are not finished with war. For every German, peace is a suspension of the state of war. The German breathes war, he is imbued with it, he glorifies it. Other nations have glorified it too, in external trappings…The difference between Germany and other nations is that German veneration for war is not merely in external forms; it is internal as well. The German, every German, is a born soldier.”

I am only 75 pages into a 250 page book, so much is yet to be learned. Yet this idea of a nation-state imbued with the fighting spirit is fascinating and controversial. I find I’m continually asking if what Laffin says is even possible – can a nation-state be a warrior-state, and can the people of a nation be summarily cast in their entirety as natural-born soldiers?

Most nation-states were created by war – even the modern English state was created out of the depths of the English Civil War, when (as I read somewhere a long time ago, but cannot recall where), the English decided they hated outsiders more than they hated each other.

From the initial Prussian success under Frederick the Great, in which Prussia was first recognized as a power, to the wholesale recreation of the Prussian army to defeat Napoleon, the army was the institution of Prussian success. In the American Revolution, in comparison, it was not the Army but the ideals of the Congress which provided the guiding light of the creation of the American Republic – Prussia did not have that.

States, in their current form, have undergone a series of border shifts due to wars or territorial acquisitions, so saying they were created out of war, or at least internal violence, is mostly a truth. Laffin is saying the German people became a nation – and more importantly, fought as a nation, before the state was created. Nationalism created the state, as opposed to the state fostering nationalism. This is nothing new, but the size and potential of the German state is rivaled only by the secession of America.

Fascinating and controversial.

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