Günther Kegler was a true patriot who dearly loved his fatherland. Historians made many attempts to trace back the causes of the two World Wars. By doing so they put the blame on Prussia. This German state with its military might was the driving force behind Germany’s first unification after the French-German War in 1871. To single out Prussia as being the root cause for the great wars of the 20th century is a gross oversimplification of history. It totally ignores the injustice done by the Treaty of Versailles, which imposed through its harsh economic measures incredible hardships on the German population. Thus, it created among millions of unemployed workers a fertile breeding ground for the radical ideas promoted by the Nazis, which were swept to power in 1933. There is a lesson to be learned. Social injustice leads to widespread unrest and turmoil, which is often taken advantage of by demagogues, who will gain control with their promises to bring prosperity and set things right.
My uncle was deeply troubled by the prevailing historical claims in postwar Germany. They made the ideals of Prussia responsible for all the misery and horror of the two World Wars. When I immigrated to Canada in 1965, he gave me a postcard with a picture of a Prussian cadet and on the backside he typed a little poem, which I will attempt to translate into English.
They served their king for honor
and did not much ask for money.
To live as model to follow – so it was taught in the army –
was more important than to die as hero in battle.
When one day the last Prussians have passed away;
One will remember them.
Stones will no longer be thrown at them:
The stones could shatter the Western glass house.
With these lines I conclude my report on my uncle. Looking at our present day world one might detect in them a somber warning, a prophecy perhaps we wish not to come true.