Mr. Pendleton to Mr. Bayard.
Berlin , February 22, 1888. (Received March 12.)
Sir: Referring to my recent dispatches, Nos. 557 and 576* relating to the then pending bill for the increase of the effective strength of the German army, I beg now to inform you that the measure which had, at the date of my last-mentioned dispatch, been adopted on its second reading has since been enacted en bloc arid published as a law under date of the 11th instant.
Since the latter date a pamphlet has been published in this city, which contains, in addition to the law itself, heretofore transmitted to the Department, certain decrees of even date therewith, issued by the Emperor in execution of its provisions, and also an assortment of the blank forms to be used in its application.[Page 617]
With my dispatch Ho. 557, above referred to, I transmitted a tabular statement of the changes contemplated by the bill. In the light of the ordinances decreed in execution of the measure as since enacted, a better appreciation than was then possible is afforded of the bearing of the changes which have been made, and which, as stated by Prince Bismarck in his recent speech in the Reichstag, are expected to add some 700,000 men to the effective strength of the German army in time of war.
Military service in this country may be conveniently considered under three principal heads: (1) Service in the standing army, with its two grand subdivisions of service “with the flag,” active present service and service with the reserves; (2) service with the Landwehr; and (3) service with the Landsturm.
In addition to the three above-enumerated phases of service there is that of the Ersatz-Reservisten (Replacement Reserves), consisting of men wholly or partially dispensed from present service on account of physical or mental unfitness or peculiar domestic relations; for instance, the dependency for her support of a widowed mother upon her only son. This exemption and the consequent assignment to the Ersatz-Reservisten may have existed from the time when the individual concerned first became liable to military service in general, or may have arisen, and such assignment taken place in the course of his service.
With respect to liability to service in the standing army as above defined the new law has made no changes whatever. Hence, hereafter, as has been the case heretofore, every capable German is required to serve in the standing army for the period of seven years, a period as a rule embraced between the completion of the twentieth and the commencement of the twenty-eighth year of his age, the first three years of such service being with the “flag;” the remaining four with the reserves. The new law has, on the other hand, materially modified the provisions heretofore existing with respect to service with the Landwehr, the Landsturm, and the Ersatz-Reservisten.
As regards the Landwehr, heretofore liability to this service existed as a rule for the period of five years, beginning with the completion of the service in the standing army and ending with the commencement of the thirty-second year of age. For the future this liability has been extended by a period of six years, by the creation of a Landwehr of the second levy (Zweites Aufgebot), so that a man henceforth remains liable to service in one or the other of the Landwehr levies until the 31st of March of that year in which he completes the thirty-ninth year of his age. In case the army is entered before the completion of the twentieth year, liability to service ceases at a correspondingly earlier age. To recapitulate, there are three years with the “flag,” lour with the reserves, five with the Landwehr of the first, and six with the Landwehr of the second levy; in all, eighteen years thus far. The conditions of Landwehr service prescribed by the old are declared by the new law to apply to the Landwehr of the first levy as now constituted, whereas the propriety and necessity of securing to the members of the second levy certain advantages over the younger men composing the first levy has found expression in the new law and in the ordinances decreed pursuant to its provisions. Of these advantages the following are the principal: The men of the second Landwehr levy can not be required to appear for exercises or musters. Such reports respecting themselves as are necessary may be made in their behalf by members of their families, except in the case of the issue of a particular ordinance becoming necessary in time of war, or of danger of an outbreak of war. They need no permission to emigrate, but are only required to notify the appropriate [Page 618] military authority of their intention to do so, and if able to show by consular certificate that they have acquired, in a country situated outside of Europe, positions which assure them a livelihood, as merchants, artisans, etc., the leave of absence granted may be enlarged to an entire release from further military duty and the obligation of returning in case of mobilization.
As regards the Landsturm, heretofore all men not belonging to the army or the navy were liable to service with the Landsturm from their completed seventeenth to their completed forty-second year. By the new law liability to this service is extended over a further period of three years, until the completion of the forty-fifth year of age. A division of the Landsturm into two levies, as in the case of the Landwehr, has now also ensued. To the first levy belong for a period of seven years all owing Landsturm duty until the 31st of March of that year in which they complete the thirty-ninth year of their age. It may in this connection be remarked as strange that the Landsturm of the first levy and the Landwehr of the second levy remain liable for duty until the same period, viz, for the seven years preceding the completion of the thirty-ninth year of age. This is accounted for, however, by the different purpose which the two subserve. While the latter constitutes a part of the army taking the field, the Landsturm of the first levy, to which the whole mass of the imperfectly trained Ersatz-Reservisten and other disposable untrained men belong, is used solely to fill up the ranks of the army when necessary. To the second levy of the Landsturm belong the remaining six-year classes of older men; that is to say, all who have completed their Landwehr service with a total of eighteen years of liability up to that time, as before stated, enter at once into liability to serve in the second levy of the Landsturm, to be released from the same after the expiration of a further period of six years, the forty-fifth year of their age and the entire period of twenty five years of liability to any military service being then completed. The Landsturm, intended mainly to be used for defensive purposes, to repel invasion, could heretofore be employed only after all the year classes of the Landwehr and the available men belonging to the Ersatz Reservisten had been called out; now they may, in extraordinary emergencies, be used to supplement the strength of the army proper. Except when the Landsturm has been called out, those owing duty in the same are hereafter not to be subjected to any sort of military control or exercise. In case it is called out, however, which it may be under the new law by commanding generals in the contingency of immediate danger, otherwise only by imperial decree, its members are subjected to military, penal, and disciplinary laws. The calling out of the first levy ensues by year classes, beginning, in so far as military necessities permit, with the youngest. Men owing Landsturm duty who are sojourning abroad must return home in case that body is called out unless they have been expressly exempted therefrom, which may be effected by consular certificates, as in the case of the Landwehr men. All who had completed their Landsturm period of duty before the entry into effect of the new law, as well as all Alsace-Lorraines born before 1851, although otherwise liable under that law, are expressly exempted from its operation, and are freed from Landsturm duty.
As regards the Ersatz-Reservisten, in the earlier part of this report these were defined as men exempted from present service on account of physical or mental unfitness, peculiar domestic relations, and other grounds. Heretofore they were divided into two classes. The first consisted [Page 619] of partially trained men who had not completed the thirty-second year of their age, of which category an aggregate of the classes for five years sufficed to fill the ranks of the army on a war footing in case of mobilization. The second class consisted of men wholly dispensed from service in time of peace on account of imperfect physical or mental ability. Under the new law there will hereafter be but one class of Ersatz-Reservisten, which will consist of the men belonging to the first class under the old law as above defined, whereas those belonging to the second class as heretofore constituted are in future to be assigned to the Landsturm of the first levy. Liability to service as Ersatz-Reservisten extends over a period of twelve years, reckoned from the 1st of October of the year when liability begins, from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of age. At the first annual spring control-muster “following the expiration of this period those Ersatz-Reservisten who have had the benefit of military training are assigned to the Landwehr of the second levy, the rest to the Landsturm of the first levy.
From the preceding statements respecting the newly established military system, it will be perceived that a German will henceforth be liable to serve in one or another phase of the performance of military duty for the period of twenty-five years, embraced as a rule, between his completed twentieth and his completed forty-fifth year of age. In time of peace it is, however, it should be borne in mind, a question of liability to service, and not of service itself, except as regards the initial three-year period of active performance of duty with the “flag” and a few subsequent periods of not more than two weeks duration each, when he is called out for military exercises. If there be no war and no mobilization during the period of liability to service of the individual German, he will perform no service other than as above stated. If, however, there be war throughout that entire period he will, while capable, perform service throughout that entire period.
The increase in the number of men that will be available for military purposes under the new law has been estimated, as before stated, at 700,000. Of this number some 500,000, derived from the extension of Landwehr duty by the creation of a second levy, embracing six-year classes of trained men, will be available for service with the armies taking the field. The remaining 200,000, representing three-year classes of trained men available for defensive purposes, will accrue from the extension of liability to Landsturm service, from the forty-second to the forty-fifth year of age. The amount of some 278,000,000 marks, appropriated for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the new law, will be largely used in equipping and arming the Landsturm men, with respect to whom the chancellor of the Empire declared, in his recent speech, that these fathers of families, men of over thirty years of age, this best human material afforded by the German nation, should be clad in the best clothing and armed with the very best arms, and not sent to battle, as had heretofore sometimes been the case, with arms that were not good enough for their younger brethren, the troops of the line.
I desire to acknowledge my obligation to Mr. Coleman, who has prepared the above, whose accurate knowledge of the German language and the civil and military institutions of the Empire is always to be relied on in investigating and explaining the effect of changes of the laws.
I have, etc.,
- Not printed in this volume.↩