Sunday, 22 June 2008

“It is gas and plague. It is tank and aircraft horror. It is baseness and falsehood. It is hunger and poverty.”

“Frederick Birchall, Berlin correspondent for The New York Times, published an article about Germany’s preparations for war. It was October 8, 1933.

“Birchell quoted from a recent book by Ewald Banse, a teacher at the Technical High School in Brunswick, Germany. The book was called Wehrwissenschaft — ‘Military Science.’ War was no longer a matter of marches and medals, Banse observed: ‘It is gas and plague. It is tank and aircraft horror. It is baseness and falsehood. It is hunger and poverty.’ And because war is so horrible, Banse said, it must be incorporated into the school curriculum and taught as a new and comprehensive science: ‘The methods and aims of the new science are to create an unshakable belief in the high ethical value of war and to produce in the individual the psychological readiness for sacrifice in the cause of nation and state.’

“Birchall’s eye rested on one passage in particular of Banse’s book. In it, Banse charged that in the Great War the French had attempted to use bacteriological warfare against German crops and livestock. The plain had failed, Banse said, but the technique deserved investigation. For a weak nation that has been disarmed and rendered defenceless, such as postwar Germany, biological warfare – tainted drinking water with typhus germs and spreading plague using infected rats – ‘is undoubtedly the given weapon.’ The League of Nations had forbidden such techniques, but when it came to national survival, ‘every method is permissible to stave off the superior enemy and vanquish him’.”

Nicholson Baker, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, The End of Civilization, page 44.

“[A]n intensive study of this volume should have provided a plain, clear warning to the European democracies. Your reviewer read it at the time of its first printing in 1934. Not until the beginning of the Nazi march against Czechoslovakia did it again come to mind, and then there came a growing realization of the entire program which the book forecast. When the attack upon Poland took place, conjecture became certainty, and on the basis of material in the volume this reviewer strove unsuccessfully to tell newspapers of the coming invasion of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium, and the broad plan for the attack on France. It is all in this book, the pattern standing out for one who can pick out its recurrent motif. While the author treats of war from the geographical viewpoint-and does a thorough job of it-he also furnishes a comprehensive military guide for Nazi con- quest. His strictures upon certain peoples, notably the Norwegians, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Czechs, the French, and the Rumanians, have turned out to be plain warning of the wrath to come.”

Great Neck, L. I., N. Y.

Reviewed work(s): Germany Prepares for War by Ewald Banse
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 216, Defending America's Future, (Jul., 1941), pp. 183-184

“Ewald Banse, pseudo-geographer, was appointed professor of military science at Brunswick Technical College in February, 1933. He has written Wehrwissenschaft and Raum und Volk im Weltkriege. The former volume preached Schrecklichkeit and bacteriological warfare. Because of foreign criticism, the book was suppressed by the Nazi regime on October 20, 1933. On November 3, the publishers of the second book sold the English language rights to an English publishing house. On the same day, the German government confiscated the work and denounced it as the ‘senseless babblings’ of an ‘irresponsible theorist’ who was furnishing material for anti-German propaganda abroad. It was, nevertheless, translated by Alan Harris, and is now published in Great Britain and the United States as ‘an astonishing revelation of aggressive tendencies’ by ‘a distinguished scholar and scientist’ who is alleged to be an official spokesman for the military policies of the Third Reich. That the rulers of the new Germany are romantic devotees of the Heldentum ideal, that they are utilizing every available means to inculcate war-worship in the masses, and that they are committed to a program of expansion involving the ultimate partition and destruction by military violence of Germany's neighbors, is beyond question in the minds of all well-informed observers of National Socialism. That the English- speaking world deserves to be fully informed of these facts also admits of no debate. That the translation and publication of this particular volume is the best means of achieving this end, however, is extremely doubtful. In the first place, the English title is highly misleading. The volume is concerned only incidentally with Germany's preparations for the next war. It consists primarily of a series of stale, post mortem observations on the last unpleasantness. In the second place, the volume is in no sense representative of the military literature of Hitlerism. The writings of Hitler, Rosenberg, Constantin Hierl, and many other Nazi leaders are far more revealing of the spirit of the new militarism. And as for the science of strategy, the Nazi regime has at its disposal scores of able tacticians, compared to whom Banse is a mere muddle-headed amateur. Banse's book is valuable, therefore, only for foreign laymen who are completely ignorant both of Nazi militarism and of militaryscience. Blood and thunder are here in abundance: ‘A grim, iron age lies before us.... The sword will again come into its own ... War is a grand stimulant and uplifter . . . ,’ etc., ad infinitum. But the observations on strategy, past and prospective, and on national geography and psychology are too puerile to be taken seriously by any one. Here is much nonsense about "war-like and pacific temperaments" among races, trite comments on the tactics of the Great War, platitudes about climate, resources, and morale, and more nonsense about Poland, "restless, ambitious, and greedy,’ deserving of a new partition, Jugoslavia, ‘the Balkan war-profiteer,’ Czechoslovakia, ‘an ulcer in Germany's side,’ and other prospective enemies and allies. A clue to the writer's mentality lies in the sentence: ‘It is possible to get moon-stroke as well as sun-stroke, as the author himself once learned to his cost in North Africa.’ If re-armed Germany had to rely on such moon-struck strategists as Banse, the world would have little cause for apprehension. Unfortunately, far wiser and more dangerous practitioners of the art of war will be available when the day of reckoning arrives."

Frederick L. Schuman
University of Chicago
Reviewed work(s): Germany Prepares for War; A Nazi Theory of "National Defense.’ by Ewald Banse ,
The American Political Science Review, Vol. 28, No. 3, (Jun., 1934), pp. 524-526

“Among the books of the day before yesterday, some are better reviewed today than on the date of their appearance. This is particularly true of books dealing with a war of the future, which have gone down into oblivion because the wars forecast by their authors did not come to pass. Professor Banse’s book is an exception, since the war it envisaged in 1932 has in large measure come about, while some of the aims postulated may still be attempted. This need not cause surprise. For Banse is, in more than one sense of the word, one of the makers of the present war, not as a combatant but rather as a preparer of the mental atmosphere. Every émigré from Germany carries in his memory more or less vivily his ‘own’ Nazis (it is a pity these specimens have never been pooled for the purpose of a history and sociology of National Socialism), and Banse has been in my botanizing drum ever sense 1915 when both of us belonged to the same German infantry regiment. It was then quite clear that the future fire-eater was a bad case of malingering. In the years of the German Republic, he must have felt equally out of place, teaching geography in one of those technological institutes where the humaniora are usually assigned to second-raters or other failures. Then, in Brunswick, which gave an early naturalization to Hitler, the outsider, Banse was one of those resentful academics talking of Raum and Reich, the biggest words in the German language. He was among the forgotten men brought by the events of 1933 into a place in the sun of the Third Reich.

“In 1933, Banse promptly became professor of a new science, Wehrwissenschaft, because his book, with the original title of Space and People in the World War, had anticipated this recently approved science. In this sense, the book is academic, but Nazi-academic. When an English translation appeared in 1934, the Berlin Propaganda Ministry called it irresponsible and had it ostensibly suppressed; but it was clear from the treatment of the author that he was considered merely indiscreet, for he had given away what only the London Times and others equally blind refused to see – that Germany would ream, quietly at first, and eventually would try to do the last World War over again, this time avoiding the old diplomatic mistakes.

“To claim that Banse’s study of the first World War is the ‘actual Nazi War Plan’ is justified to the extent that this war is indeed a repetition, a ‘fighting over again’. The author could proudly say that the Germans have heeded the science of national defense, of which he wrote a primer, and have avoided repeating their old mistakes, while the Allies have not reviewed and taken to heart their former errors but only their former victories. Defeat, in this instance, is a better teacher than victory.”

Alfred Vagts
The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.
Reviewed work(s): Germany Prepares for War: A Nazi Theory of "National Defense" by Ewald Banse
Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 2, (Jun., 1941), pp. 299-300

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