Bearing - Duty - Fatherland
by Alfred Kotz
18 September 2004
Most Germans have passed through the schools of soldierly institutions. It is superfluous to make observations about bearing of the external kind. Each of us, yes, even each German child knows that a soldier walks upright. Each knows that a straight man of character firmly sets his foot on the earth, in contrast to those who step lightly. for us the German man's confident appearance is natural. This bearing, which we especially expect from leaders, is nothing other than the expression of an inner maturity.
Education toward this maturity is important. But it is not solely decisive. There must namely already be something present, which education can build on and from which a certain form can be molded, so that gearing and action correspond. The prerequisite is the moral law within us, the feeling of responsibility and the concept of duty.
If these values do not exist within us, then our supposedly good external bearing is noting but a costume or mask. An exhibited, fine restraint must be distinguished from hollowness in that the distance from triviality is not only maintained, rather that it is maintained in order to protect what is important.
The concept of duty is often misused. We often surprise ourselves in that we tell ourselves -- let us openly admit it -- to avoid a duty, in that we barricade ourselves behind the concept of duty. It happens in life that we are occasionally tired, that we are aggravated, disappointed or even embittered. Then we hear the cheap expression: "I do my duty and everything else doesn't matter to me. Let them do what they want! I won't concern myself with anything else!"
Whoever says that has reached the point where forgetting duty starts. "Everything else doesn't matter to me!" Capitulation? "I won't concern myself with anything else!" Refusal of service, cowardice, desertion? Don't give ground, comrades! Did you perhaps cause your aggravation yourself? Have you perhaps been rightly led back to the limits of your ability? Is the "other" perhaps in fact better than you are? Do you perhaps stubbornly try to run headfirst through a brick wall without paying attention to what you break? Or did you lack insight and turn a molehill into a mountain? Did you earn what you got and is your attitude unjust?
Let us presume, however, that the other side indeed gave cause for your bitterness. Was the boss in a bad mood? Naturally, we just shrug our shoulders and walk away. Did you miss a promotion? Nothing more? Have the little daily things made you tired? Have you been worn down by the jealousy and meanness of other people? You were the weaker, although you thought you were the better. Have people you believed in disappointed you? That is certainly bad. But is the whole responsible for the failure of individuals? Look instead at the good people around you, whom you yourself should not disappoint! You leave the decent and right-doing people in the lurch if you "don't concern yourself with anything else." We love Germany just as it is. That does not mean silently accepting mistakes that turn up. We wish to be a help to all the good people, but to combat the inferior wherever we met it. The fact of opposites is a law of nature. To light belongs shadow; to the positive belongs the negative. The great and pitifiul lie close together. Even at the high points of human life expression, for example in the struggle between life and death, the high and the low stand shoulder to shoulder. One stands with a clear and pure heart before eternity and right next to him there's another who grabs the belongings of the fallen. We look with pride to the heroic figures of German history, but we do not overlook that they were surrounded by treason and baseness. How much magnificence has the new Germany created in such short time through faithful hearts and respectable, industrious hands, but how much pettiness and wretchedness had to be swept away first!
Our view is directed at everything great; that has nothing to do with spit and polish, rather simply represents the essence of everything beautiful, noble, robust and healthy. Next to it indeed exists the small and ugly. It grows downward and it creeps upward onto the heights, but it can only live in the shadow of the great. Do not be misled by this smallness! It wants to appear great. Impertience mixed with cleverness, maneuverability and accommodation can easily present itself as genuine accomplishment and real value.
You have the choice of affirming one side or the other. There is no halfway here. If you affirm the small, the egotistical, the circle of opportunists, then you remain there. If, however, you choose the side of genuine German men, then, comrade, you must never desert. We understand your bitterness, beacause we also feel it. We see you stumble, but we will not let you fall. We lead you back to your bearing.
What is "duty"? What is "the other"? According to the concept of the person who really only wants to do "his job" and not "the other," duty would only be a compulsion such as the fulfillment of a required task. If something is demanded, then there is something in the background beginning with compulsion. That kind of "duty" is just bowing to force. If we are forced to an action through threat of regulations, then our action becomes a compulsion that is put on us from outside. By duty we, however, understand something entirely different. We want something from inside of us; we are moved by a moral demand: our love, our conviction, our affirmation of life and our sense of community. These forces can become so strong within us that they become a compulsion for us, but that is nothing else than the finest duty from the heart. Then we must do something that we wish to do.
A high task for all leaders shows itself here, namely care for the soul of the subordinate, so that he responds to the hard compulsion which is placed on him externally with his desire, his insight and his joy. The leadership ability of a manager determines whether compulsion is received by others with bitterness or if it is encouraged by the recognition that hhsi work is the creation of his intellectdual gifts or the skillfulness of his hands. Volunteerism is born from the same compulsion; willingness and obedience together are the foundation of genuine community. They must show themselves everywhere German people stand together. Behind the whole again stands a compulsion, a great, fate-bound, relentless compulsion, directed toward existence or non-existence, which we as a community only master if each of its parts masters the small world of its own compulsion.
Our concept of duty aims at the service to the whole. Whoever is true, is true to himself, and also to others. This loyalty will grow into the service that each of us must perform. Whoever is honorable practices this virtue toward his fellow men; his sweat creates his contribution to the prosperity of the whole.
The sum of such manifestations of the moral desire of individuals determines the growth of the cultural condition of all. Their state must hence protect the good and the purposeful, in other words the postiive forces, and combat and prevent the harmful and negative.
A moral will -- its emergence, its growth and its action -- has its roots in our soul. Its expression is service. We must be sure of that. If we now return to the concept of duty, we find a clear aim. We recognize that for the individual its limits do not lie in the fulfillment of what he must do because of occupation or order. We live only the smallest part of life for ourselves. The more full it is, the more devoted to others. Laws cannot encompass all aspects of existence; orders cannot regulate all parts of life. Aside from law paragraphs, rules and regulations there are still many things that enter into the circle of duties. During the period of struggle, who forced us to op-enly affirm German nationalism? Who forced us to march in the SA and SS? What law paragraphs determined that? There were often enough ones that even forbade it. Who ordered us to risk existence, health and life? Our duty called us, the voice of our own conscience.
Only an inner voice can tell us the limits of our duty, because it is more than a compulsion based on an order. Whoever is at home in his own conscience can do that himself. Whoever sacrifices his character, perhaps because of his position, replaces conscience with calculation. This, too, is a duty: do not hide German character.
The more we associate with people, the more certainly we will, despiste all precautions, experience errors that pain us. These often undermine the best forces. It's also part of our duty to help preserve these best forces. We help best through our own behavior, so that those who believe in us are not disappointed.
More than any other period of German history, our present has prove that life means struggle. We know that the soft life is completely gone. Even service in the homeland is struggle, struggle for the better, struggle against the lingering of the bad, struggle against human inadequacy.
However, it is not enough to be a fighter. We must also be able to lead. Each who has the stuff for that should grow into a leadership position -- not in the external sense, rather into a leader's rank of the kind that another cannot confer or mark. It's not about postiion, rank and insignia, rather the development of a reserve of values. Fighting ability and leadership value of a man are nothing other than his concept of duty and his bearing. Our bearing creates for us the necessary distance from the guerrilla warfare of daily life. We succumb to it just as little as to any shallowness we meet. Those are manifestations that exist and they will continue to exist. They are not important to us; they are in truth void. Bearing is distance; distance from what is void.
We are never entirely finished. Fate forms us continuously. What today appears finished can tomorrow be made better. There can be painful realizations, opposites can collide and friendships can waver. We should accept this with neither indifference nor exaggeration. Our combative passion shows itself in our bearing: Help! Improve! Be an example!
We affirm genuine leadership. It remains plain and simple and has nothing in common with external shininess. We make an effort to add value to value, quietly and unobtrusively, and wait until providence gives us our task. We won't forget then what we have always expected from others: to remain true to oneself and to show justice to all.
There were times when a man made himself ridiculous if he spoke about honesty and unselfishness. This decline must be remembered in order to show that your beariing corresponds to the purpose of your life and the fulfillment of clear, manly virtues.
Outward bearing without the spine of the inward is acting. It fails at the first painful experience. Our bearing is based on mastery, which is nothing other than the strength to control ourselves. We do not want to be the slave of bad habits. Our bearing is the result of hard training in all areas. Bearing is not a uniform. Each will give it his own expression in accordance with his own world of thoughts and feelings. But it always elevates the intellectually and physically well educated, healthy man of good character over the mass.
Good bearing does not make us stubborn and stiff. It is the self-evident and natural for us. It is the expression of proportion and certainty, which shows itself in both command and obedience. It includes the right to an honest, open word, because it protects us against exaggeration. We do not violate the law of tact. Our bearing lets us overcome the fear that every person sometimes shows. It protects us against the dirty dog within. It gives us the calm ease that elevates us over any manifestation of life which so easily breaks the undisciplined person. Many a superior is not our ideal, but we nonetheless practice good discipline, not out of fear, rather because our bearing has become an example and a duty. Even what we dislike helps to school us. Everything that we find difficult to overcome makes us stronger. Each day gives occasion to practice. May each day end with a victory!
Bearing is the measuring stick of the personality. Good bearing is straightness, clarity and truth.
Fate takes the person it loves, seizes him in its pinchers, steels him in fire, forges him with its blows and hardens him in coldness. He may receive blows that the thinks will knock him down; well-practiced bearing will again pull him up from teh pressing pain. Beyond disappointment and resignation, he sees himself as a link in the chain of generations and feels the responsibility toward the descendants. The ancient river of life again carries him in its center and forces him to renewed struggle for the necessities of the day and for the values of the eternal. What does it mean, from the view into the endless expanse opening up ahead of us, if one of those next to you does not march in step, if one of them does not find a way out of his own narrowness, or if someone you believed in fails? You must remain untouched by all this!
The fighter must not fail because of the fact that his struggle does not end after victory. The fate of the great men of German history shows us this: All helped to form their fatherland, but none left behind something complete and final. All of them were surrounded by the same enemy: human inadequacy. A state of enduring bliss cannot exist on this earth. Filled with passions, we all struggle for content and expression of our life, of our community, of our fatherland.
We have lain under fire with men who did not flinch or waver. Many could not have given an answer if asked why he risked his life. But he most deeply felt and comprehended what it was about.
In the hurricane of annihilation and in sight of blood and mud, the word "fatherland" would have seemed like a mockery to him. The civilians back home at the beer table also spoke of the "fatherland." By whom was the real fatherland? One had not known the name, but did not even have any hope for himself. The beer hall citizens, however, criticized the accomplishments of the gray front. They often had the word fatherland in their mouth, but they had never comprehended it in their heart. Only outwardly did they live in it; they did not experience it inwardly.
The combative and faithful men carry the fatherland in themselves. During the period of national shame the best ones asked themselves: "Is this Germany our fatherland?" They were not led astray by the easily aroused debate between "yes" and "no," for their fatherland lived inside them, in their faith, in their conviction. In their warm hearts the future fatherland lived before it existed outside as well. It looked different there than it showed itself at the moment.
And when the sun again shined on Germany, many of those who had joyfully marched toward it in the battle of light throught his fatherland had finally been fulfilled. Whoever at this splendid turning point of German history saw something perfect and complete did not understand the beginning of the new reconstruction, new exertion, new battles. He had to become disappointed, because he overlooked this: perfection does not exist; there is just a forward!
To be a fighter means more than being the bearer of an idea, rather one must also be an example of its confirmation. Assuming leadership does not yet mean fulfillment. The struggle remains. It simply has a different face. Old mistakes among new people. Being human, all-too-human, shows itself. A new layer starts, but it does not place itself onto the old one without friction. One cannot kill everything in order to create everything new as desired; one cannot tear down everything in order to build it anew. Even if one could, the ground on which the new stands would still be the old. Our love for the German fatherland demands of us to ourselves be a piece of what is desirable, a part that contributes to the better formation and the higher development of the whole. Where there is deficiency, there is no right to demand from others that they be better than they are. And if we look more closely, we must honestly admit that those whom we do not like also have good points that could become essential to the well-being of the community. But let us now look at others; let those of us who have stood together in bad times look at ourselves! Have we ourselves been perfect? Did not many of us hang our heads after because this or that take turned out differently than expected? Was that the final fatherland? There was always a new demand. It always came down to this: build, rebuild and improve something. Imagine what the consequence would have been without these manifestations! It would start with standing still and it would end with decay and death. The fatherland is the property of eternity, not of one period of time. History shows us what happened during the levels of development. it reminds us to serve this advancement. This means that the fatherland living within us is always different from what it is. We are always ahead of it with our desires and hope of fulfillment.
So, basically, each conditon is right as it is at the time. Each time merely reflects the stage of development, which could not be different. It reflects the forces that shaped it. The fatherland is as good or as bad as its folk, its community. Only the best always think ahead; they act for the future.
Their fate is often very tragic, because those who foresee and promote a better condition with a warm heart and clever spirit do not experience it themselves. Their worst enemy is the ignorance and inertia of the crowd.
We know that only the nobleman was able to correctly lead in the land of our fathers. The living history lesson of our years has taught us this truth. A land always remains the same. Its rivers flow along their -- compared to human standards -- eternal course. Its mountains are witnesses of millenia. The land only offers people a homeland, offers them resources and fertility. It is up to the people, however, to create a fatherland in their land. We saw many lands whose soil was blessed with natural resources, and still its people were impoverished, vegetating in filth, crippled in their soul. Despite the richness under their feet they nonetheless only had a miserable home, which was not a fatherland to them. The spirit of the people determines the development or decline of their fatherland, and it depends on what the leadership makes out of the people, whether it suffocates their spirit or gives it room to grow upward.
The noble man fills the hearts of his fellow men with a faithful strength and with his love, in which his fatherland lives. He helps his folk to prepare the paths to the fatherland. He helps to form it. He is a living example. He follows his duty like something holy, which already is devoted to those who sleep in his blood. In his loyalty to this responsibility he finds the field of his duty. Tasks given by humans can always show only part of this duty. The limits provided by regulations and service rank only satisfy the conscience of those who do not look beyond the field of their jurisdiction, who cannot ride outside the well-traveled lanes of their usual routes, or who are inwardly hollow, who have a crippled soul which feels nothing of the responsibility to prevent the great river of the whole from becoming sand-blocked.
The final responsibility of a noble person can only be determined by his own conscience. In his honesty and loyalty he finds the command of his duty, whose field is also greater than his strength. He quickly sees the area where no one else can prescribe anything. If matters of our duty revolve around our conscience, then the will to perform them, are carried and supported by our bearing toward the fatherland, toward the eternal, toward God.