In comparing the two speeches in this document, they reveal the mindset of Kaiser Wilhelm and the nationalistic attitudes held by Germany and other nations at the time.
It’s easy to understand the contempt held by a nation being occupied by a foreign military, its government, and its missionaries. No different is China and the boxer rebellion of 1900. In a quest to divvy up Chinas resources, Germany, along with other European nations, occupied China in the name of imperialism and Christianity. In June of 1900, 140,000 boxers occupied Peking in a violent effort to overrun foreign occupants along with native converts to Christianity. As a result many Europeans were killed, including a German envoy and several missionaries.
To protect Germany’s economic interests in order to secure “It’s place in the sun,” Kaiser Wilhelm, on two occasions in July of 1900, sent reinforcements to China to quell the violence. On both occasions, before sending the troops off, Wilhelm gave rousing speeches. In the first impromptu speech he warned the ambassadors of “other nations,” as well as their comrades dispatched to protect them, of the eminent danger of losing their lives. Wilhelm described the conditions as becoming serious with “fearful speed,” reminding the troops that the Chinese have been trained by European officers in the use of European weapons, alluding to the fact that the task at hand would be one of great difficulty and violence.
Sending the troops off to avenge injustice, Wilhelm would not rest until the German flag waved victoriously over the Chinese. Wilhelm encouraged comradeship amongst the troops, including the troops of all nations joining them in the fight for civilization, also bearing in mind their religion and the defense and protection of their Christian brothers overseas.
The second of these speeches features two versions. One skillfully crafted into a piece of modern day crusade-like rhetoric and put out for public consumption by chancellor Buelow. The other, a much more lurid version recorded at the time in short hand by a news reporter and was later picked up by the world press. The public version is eloquently written and it is easy to see why this version was intended for the public domain.
Wilhelm speaks of “great overseas tasks” that have fallen on the newly risen German Empire as well as the obligation to protect its citizens being oppressed in foreign lands, requiring the dispatched troops to expiate the injustices that have occurred. According to Wilhelm, (or his editor) a task that the...