The "Manifesto of the Ninety-Three" is the name commonly given to a 4 October 1914 proclamation, originally titled in English "To the Civilized World" by "Professors of Germany" that was endorsed by 93 prominent German scientists, scholars and artists, declaring their unequivocal support of German military actions in the early period of World War I. These actions were elsewhere called the Rape of Belgium. The Manifesto galvanized support for the war throughout German schools and universities, but many foreign intellectuals were outraged.
Wilhelm Foerster soon repented having signed the document and soon with Georg Friedrich Nicolai they drew up the Manifesto to the Europeans. They argued "it seems not just a good thing, but a dire necessity, that educated men of all nations direct their influence in such a way that the terms of the peace did not become the wellspring of future wars - uncertain though the outcome of the war may now still seem. The fact that this war has plunged all European relations into an equally unstable and plastic state should rather be put to use to create out of Europe an organic whole." Whilst various people expressed sympathy with these sentiments, only Otto Buek and Albert Einstein signed it and it remained unpublished at the time. It was subsequently brought to light by Einstein.
Purpose and reaction
The manifesto was primarily designed to contradict the negative image of Germany being portrayed in the press by other countries (especially in Britain), which is indicated by the fact that it was published in ten different languages. In addition, the manifesto articulated moral indignation, laid charges against foreign governments, academic institutions, and scholars whom the authors believed had wronged the German nation. They also probably hoped to undermine support for the war among the civilian population of the Entente powers by demonstrating that German scientists — who at the time were very highly reputed — were fully in support of their country, thereby inducing the intellectuals of other European nations to put pressure on the governments of their respective countries. The reaction of both the European and American press and of academic institutions around the word indicate that this attempt was a failure.
Here is an English translation (italics in original):
As representatives of German Science and Art, we hereby protest to the civilized world against the lies and calumnies with which our enemies are endeavoring to stain the honor of Germany in her hard struggle for existence—in a struggle that has been forced on her.
The iron mouth of events has proved the untruth of the fictitious German defeats; consequently misrepresentation and calumny are all the more eagerly at work. As heralds of truth we raise our voices against these.
It is not true that Germany is guilty of having caused this war. Neither the people, the Government, nor the Kaiser wanted war. Germany did her utmost to prevent it; for this assertion the world has documental proof. Often enough during the twenty-six years of his reign has Wilhelm II shown himself to be the upholder of peace, and often enough has this fact been acknowledged by our opponents. Nay, even the Kaiser, whom they now dare to call an Attila, has been ridiculed by them for years, because of his steadfast endeavors to maintain universal peace. Not till a numerical superiority which has been lying in wait on the frontiers assailed us did the whole nation rise to a man.
It is not true that we trespassed in neutral Belgium. It has been proved that France and England had resolved on such a trespass, and it has likewise been proved that Belgium had agreed to their doing so. It would have been suicide on our part not to have preempted this.
It is not true that the life and property of a single Belgian citizen was injured by our soldiers without the bitterest self-defense having made it necessary; for again and again, notwithstanding repeated threats, the citizens lay in ambush, shooting at the troops out of the houses, mutilating the wounded, and murdering in cold blood the medical men while they were doing their Samaritan work. There can be no baser abuse than the suppression of these crimes with the view of letting the Germans appear to be criminals, only for having justly punished these assassins for their wicked deeds.
It is not true that our troops treated Louvain brutally. Furious inhabitants having treacherously fallen upon them in their quarters, our troops with aching hearts were obliged to fire a part of the town as a punishment. The greatest part of Louvain has been preserved. The famous Town Hall stands quite intact; for at great self-sacrifice our soldiers saved it from destruction by the flames. Every German would of course greatly regret if in the course of this terrible war any works of art should already have been destroyed or be destroyed at some future time, but inasmuch as in our great love for art we cannot be surpassed by any other nation, in the same degree we must decidedly refuse to buy a German defeat at the cost of saving a work of art.
It is not true that our warfare pays no respect to international laws. It knows no indisciplined cruelty. But in the east the earth is saturated with the blood of women and children unmercifully butchered by the wild Russian troops, and in the west dumdum bullets mutilate the breasts of our soldiers. Those who have allied themselves with Russians and Serbians, and present such a shameful scene to the world as that of inciting Mongolians and negroes against the white race, have no right whatever to call themselves upholders of civilization.
It is not true that the combat against our so-called militarism is not a combat against our civilization, as our enemies hypocritically pretend it is. Were it not for German militarism, German civilization would long since have been extirpated. For its protection it arose in a land which for centuries had been plagued by bands of robbers as no other land had been. The German Army and the German people are one and today this consciousness fraternizes 70,000,000 Germans, all ranks, positions, and parties being one.
We cannot wrest the poisonous weapon—the lie—out of the hands of our enemies. All we can do is to proclaim to all the world that our enemies are giving false witness against us. You, who know us, who with us have protected the most holy possessions of man, we call to you:
For this we pledge you our names and our honor:
List of signatories
- Adolf von Baeyer, chemist: synthesized indigo, 1905 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- Peter Behrens, architect and designer
- Emil Adolf von Behring, physiologist: received the 1901 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- Wilhelm von Bode, art historian and curator
- Aloïs Brandl, Austrian-German philologist
- Lujo Brentano, economist and social reformer
- Justus Brinckmann, art historian
- Johannes Conrad, political economist
- Franz von Defregger, Austrian artist
- Richard Dehmel, anti-conservative poet and writer
- Adolf Deissmann, Protestant theologian
- Wilhelm Dörpfeld, architect and archeologist (including site of ancient Troy)
- Friedrich von Duhn, classical archaeologist
- Paul Ehrlich, awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, initiated chemotherapy, "the magic bullet"
- Albert Ehrhard, Catholic priest and church historian
- Karl Engler, chemist
- Gerhard Esser, Catholic theologian
- Rudolf Christoph Eucken, philosopher: winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize for Literature
- Herbert Eulenberg, poet and playwright
- Henrich Finke, Catholic church historian
- Hermann Emil Fischer, chemist: 1902 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- Wilhelm Foerster, also signed counter-manifesto
- Ludwig Fulda, Jewish playwright with strong social commitment
- Eduard von Gebhardt, painter
- Jan Jakob Maria de Groot, Sinologist and historian of religion
- Fritz Haber, chemist: received the 1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for synthesizing ammonia
- Ernst Haeckel, biologist: coined the words "ecology, phylum, stem cell," developed "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"
- Max Halbe, dramatist
- Adolf von Harnack, Lutheran theologian
- Carl Hauptmann, playwright
- Gerhart Hauptmann, dramatist and novelist: received the 1912 Nobel Prize in Literature
- Gustav Hellmann, meteorologist
- Wilhelm Herrmann, Reformed theologian
- Andreas Heusler, Swiss medievalist
- Adolf von Hildebrand, sculptor
- Ludwig Hoffmann, architect
- Engelbert Humperdinck, composer: including "Hänsel und Gretel"
- Leopold Graf von Kalckreuth, painter
- Arthur Kampf, history painter
- Friedrich August von Kaulbach, painter
- Theodor Kipp, jurist
- Felix Klein, mathematician: group theory, complex analysis, non-Euclidean geometry; "the Klein bottle"
- Max Klinger, Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer
- Aloïs Knoepfler, art historian
- Anton Koch, Catholic theologian
- Paul Laband, professor of law
- Karl Lamprecht, historian
- Philipp Lenard, physicist: winner of the 1905 Nobel Prize for Physics for cathode rays research
- Maximilian Lenz, painter
- Max Liebermann, Jewish Impressionist painter and printmaker
- Franz von Liszt, jurist and legal scholar (cousin of the composer)
- Ludwig Manzel, sculptor
- Joseph Mausbach, theologian
- Georg von Mayr, statistician
- Sebastian Merkle, Catholic theologian
- Eduard Meyer, historian
- Heinrich Morf, linguist
- Friedrich Naumann, liberal politician and Protestant pastor
- Albert Neisser, physician who discovered the cause of gonorrhea
- Walther Hermann Nernst, physicist: third law of thermodynamics, won the 1920 Nobel Prize in chemistry
- Wilhelm Ostwald, chemist: received the 1909 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- Bruno Paul, architect, illustrator, interior designer, and furniture designer.
- Max Planck, theoretical physicist: originated quantum theory, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918
- Albert Plohn, professor of medicine
- Georg Reicke, author and politician
- Max Reinhardt, Austrian-born, American stage and film actor and director
- Alois Riehl, philosopher
- Carl Robert, philologist and archeologist
- Wilhelm Roentgen, physicist: known for X-rays, awarded 1901 Nobel Prize in Physics
- Max Rubner, physiologist and hygienist
- Fritz Schaper, sculptor
- Adolf von Schlatter, Evangelical theologian
- August Schmidlin, theologian
- Gustav von Schmoller, economist
- Reinhold Seeberg, theologian
- Martin Spahn, historian
- Franz von Stuck, symbolist/Art Nouveau painter, sculptor, engraver, and architect
- Hermann Sudermann, dramatist and novelist
- Hans Thoma, painter
- Wilhelm Trübner, realist painter
- Karl Vollmöller, playwright and screenwriter
- Richard Voss, dramatist and novelist
- Karl Vossler, linguist and scholar
- Siegfried Wagner, composer, son of Richard Wagner
- Wilhelm Waldeyer, anatomist: named the chromosome
- August von Wassermann, bacteriologist: developed the "Wassermann test" for syphilis
- Felix Weingartner, Austrian conductor, composer and pianist
- Theodor Wiegand, archeologist
- Wilhelm Wien, physicist: received the 1911 Nobel Prize for work on heat radiation
- Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, classical philologist
- Richard Willstätter, organic chemist: won the 1915 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for structure of plant pigments
- Wilhelm Windelband, philosopher
- Wilhelm Wundt, physician, psychologist, physiologist, philosopher, "father of experimental psychology"
- Jürgen von Ungern-Sternberg and Wolfgang von Ungern-Sternberg, Der Aufruf "An die Kulturwelt!": das Manifest der 93 und die Anfänge der Kriegspropaganda im Ersten Weltkrieg, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1996, p.13.
- Grundmann, Siegfried (2005). The Einstein Dossiers. Berlin: Springer.
- "The Ninety-Three Today" (PDF). The New York Times. March 2, 1921. p. 7.
A German writer, M.H. WEHBERG, has recently published the results of personal inquiries made of the surviving professors, scientists and literary men who in 1914 signed the famous manifesto of the ninety-three Gelehrten. Seventeen of them have since died, but of this number it was known that several had changed their minds, or at least wished that they had not put their names to a document which was a reproach to German learning. Among the living only sixteen were found to stand by their action in 1914 without wavering, and to say that they would sign the manifesto again. This leaves some sixty of the original ninety-three who now express regret — in some cases amounting almost to remorse. Some of them explain that they did not read or know what they had signed. They gave their names by telephone or telegraph to what they supposed to be a truthful utterance of German university opinion. Later they felt 'keen chagrin' when they found that, with their indignant 'it is not true,' they had been denying facts amply proved. More than one of the signers now has strong words in condemnation of the 'unlucky and senseless' declaration, as it is now admitted to have been, to which they were induced to put their names. This is perhaps the nearest to repentance that we have had or may expect from Germany. Herr WEHBERG records many excuses, some semi-apologies, several expressions of sorrow that the thing turned out so badly; but not one form of the straight-out confession that is good for the soul.
- Meyer-Rewerts & Stöckmann 2010, p. 121.
- To the civilized world
- Herbert Gantschacher "Warpropaganda and the manifesto of the Ninety-Three" in Herbert Gantschacher "VIKTOR ULLMANN ZEUGE UND OPFER DER APOKALYPSE - WITNESS AND VICTIM OF THE APOCALYPSE - Testimone e vittima dell'Apocalisse - Prič in žrtev apokalipse - Svědek a oběť apokalypsy" - Complete original authorized edition in German and English language with summaries in Italian, Slovenian and Czech language, ARBOS-Edition ISBN 978-3-9503173-3-6, Arnoldstein-Klagenfurt-Salzburg-Vienna-Prora-Prague 2015, page 185.
- Meyer-Rewerts, U.; Stöckmann, H. (2010). "Das ′Manifest der 93′: Ausdruck oder Negation der Zivilgesellschaft?". In Johanna Klatt; Robert Lorenz (eds.). Manifeste: Geschichte und Gegenwart des politischen Appells (in German). Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag. ISBN 978-3-83941-679-2.