The Great Families (Die großen Familien)


In the trial of our friends Küster[1] and Jacob before the Imperial Court, the State Prosecutor, Herr Jörns, rose, and spoke to Berthold Jacob[2], „Do you have a brother in Paris?” “Yes.“ „What is your brother doing there?“ „He is studying literature and history. He is about to publish a book.“ The prosecutor, „Does your brother have contacts to the French General Staff?” “No.” “To the scond level of the French General Staff?”

And again, later, „ Does your brother not have contacts to the French Ministry of War, or the French Foreign Ministry?” Berthold Jacob, whose courage before these judges should be an example to many, gave the responses due to the former court-martial judge Jörns, who ‘dealt’ with the murder of Liebknecht[3] and Luxemburg[4] by German officers. This little intermezzo in an otherwise decently and impeccably conducted trial is worth emphasizing, because it is typical of the spirit of the Imperial Court.

The former court-martial judge knows nothing about the brother, apart from a bit of gossip. In the first place, there is nothing to know: the man lives here in Paris, working on the old, historical case Naundorff[5]. He lived as a private scholar, whose views are of no justified interest to anyone. Herr Jörns took interest in them. The fact that a German lives in the land of the latin sworn enemy was enough to make him suspect in his eyes. His questions, which had nothing to do with the case under consideration, were insinuations, and should, of course, be taken as such. If the State Prosecutor knew more, and incriminating, things about the activities of this brother, it would be his duty to take action, and we can rest assured that he would have done so, but he has no such knowledge. This ignorance is enough reason for him to insult a German who has nothing to do with the case, neither as accused, nor as witness. The accused on his own is not a big enough catch for the court-martial judge, his whole family is under suspicion.

There is no doubt that the State Prosecutor meant it as an insult. In his circles, such ‚contacts‘ to the French General Staff constitute espionage and treason, which are crimes. The judge tried to reassure Berthold Jacob by remarking, „The State Prosecutor only asked…“ How would it be, for example, if I were to just ask whether the daughter of Imperial Court Judge X is a slut, or whether the State Prosecutor Y drinks himself into a stupor every evening? And what would happen if I mumbled, „But I was only asking,” under cross-examination in court?

It apparently never occurred to State Prosecutor Jörns that he could do considerable damage to the professional reputation of a man who is not involved in the case, by insulting him with such unfounded accusations in court. The President of the Imperial Court, Herr Simons, to whom the hacks like to refer as the ‘highest German judge’, doesn’t seem to have his people under control. Is he happy with that? Can he not make even the simplest duties of a civil servant clear to them? Does he not want to, because he would do just the same? Whatever the reason, the brother plays no role in this case, but it seems that the great family of radical pacifists does. From this perspective, some things in the trial become understandable, including the verdict, to which Küster‘s outspoken behaviour in the public meeting in Leipzig at which thousands protested against the stifling of the truth by the Imperial Court, and the chairs of the invited Imperial judges remained allegorically empty, contributed considerably. Justice? No chance. But now Küster is absolutely vindicated, if pacifists commit treason, without financial gain to themselves, we don’t regard it as a crime. This treason can be necessary to fend off something greater and more important: the breach of the peace in Europe. Peace in Europe is more important than the particular interests of individual countries.

That the two wrongfully convicted did not commit such treason in this case, is another matter. They couldn’t betray anything, because treason through the media is hardly possible any more, the uniformed competition is much, much quicker. They couldn’t betray anything, because they already knew everything, absolutely everything, over there, and it is a scandal that no judge puts the representative of the Imperial War Ministry in the dock, and asks him: “Is it true that in July 1925 enemy espionage organizations knew well enough about the Black Reichswehr[6]? Yes or no? Was there a connection between Münster in Westphalia and the Stahlhof[7] in Düsseldorf? Yes or no? Did the Bulletins Secrets contain everything worth knowing about the secret, illegal rearmament at the time of Geßler[8]? Yes or no? Did a Vogel[9] come flying, and land on the sworn enemy’s foot? Yes or no? Has the French secret service not known everything there is to know, from the Imperial Navy via Krupp, to the patriotic resistence on the Ruhr, since Summer 1923? Yes or no? Would you like to express your expert opinion about who went to visit Herr Braun, Lux (the polyglot), Schneider and Terre? Would you like to express your expert opinion about who told the French that the three Black Reichswehr divisions raised in Bavaria by Kahr[10], von Lossow[11] and Seißer[12], would march north, not west?“ But nobody posed these questions.

The great family of the pacifists is confronted by the great international family of the military, who know much more about each other than a pacifist newspaper could ever publish. The real, true, and if you like, dangerous, traitors are not to be found in the editorial offices, they are elsewhere. And they don’t even cost that much.

But we radical pacifists retain the natural right, despite anything the Imperial Court can do, to play the imperial powers off against each other whenever the peace of Europe, or our conscience, demands it. I say, in completely awareness of what I am saying, that there is no German military secret which I would not betray to a foreign power, if it seemed to me necessary, to keep the peace.

Whether the German courts stand to attention before the military, doesn’t matter to us. There is no doubt that the judges, some of whom also demand political revenge, took out their frustration on the brave pacifists Küster and Jacob. One of them got rid of General Seeckt[13], with the excellent information in his Zeit Notizen, and the other produces the very best pacifist propaganda in Hagen and throughout Westphalia, in his weekly periodical Das Andere Deutschland. They are both as radical as they are active, and the reactionary German justice won’t forgive them for it. But let the Imperial Court take note of this clear declaration of our beliefs: we consider war between national states to be a crime, and we oppose it wherever we can, whenever we can, by any means we can. We are traitors, but we betray a state which we deny, in favour of a country we love, for peace, and for our real homeland: Europe.

[1] No English page

[2] No English page





[7] The headquarters of the French occupation of the Rhineland


[9] The name means bird.





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