"He went down to the dust in great loss."
Section 1- The God of Battles
On June 18, 1871, Emperor Kaiser William I of Germany entered Berlin at the head of his victorious troops. It was a day of great rejoicing. The France of Napoleon III had been crushed. The Emperor was a national hero in Germany. He was becoming legendary. As the clattering hoof beats of victory rang through the streets of Berlin, Kaiser William I was the cynosure of all eyes.
He had achieved almost every dream. He had become, in turn, prince, king, and now emperor of a united Germany. There was no one to challenge him. And then, one voice was raised in warning. From His far-off prison cell, Baha'u'llah reminded the Kaiser of what had befallen the Emperor of France. He warned William that exactly the same fate awaited him, if he did not follow the Counsels which God was offering to the kings of the earth, and devote himself to the service of unity and justice. The Prisoner addressed these words to William I:
"0 King of Berlin! . . . remember the one whose power transcended thy power (Napoleon III), and whose station excelled thy station. Where is he? Whither are gone the things he possessed?"
The victor, like the vanquished, was given the opportunity to respond to the call of God. Kings were "trustees" of God and were responsible for that trust.
The Prisoner warned Kaiser William I not to forget the lesson given to the world by the tragic fate of Napoleon III.
"Think deeply. O King concerning him, (Napoleon III) and concerning them who, like unto thee, have conquered cities and ruled over men. The All-Merciful (God) brought them down from their palaces to their graves."
The Emperor, however, had always been convinced that Prussia was the rightful head of all Germany. He had always believed that only one thing would ever put her there, the force and power of a mighty army. History appeared to have proved him, not the Prisoner, to be right.
But the Prisoner was not only counseling the kings of the world. He was also warning them. Kaiser William I of Germany was no exception to the warning of God:
"O Oppressors on earth! Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself to never forgive any man 's injustice."
Up to the time of his accession to the throne, William had spent his entire time in the army. He has been described as "militaristic" and "autocratic" to the very extreme. He admitted that he believed only in the "God of battles."
The Prisoner warned the Emperor:
"0 King of Berlin . . . Take warning, and be not of them that are fast asleep. He (Napoleon III) it was who cast the Tablet of God behind him . . . Wherefore, disgrace assailed him from all sides, and he went down to dust in great loss. Think deeply, O King . . . Be warned, be of them who reflect."
"Be united O kings of the earth, for thereby
will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you."
Section 2- The Sound of War
William I did not listen to the warning from the Prisoner of 'Akka. His death delivered Germany into the hands of his reckless and arrogant grandson, the young William II. The new Kaiser embarked on a cause that was directly opposed to almost every Counsel of the Prisoner. Instead of bringing peace and tranquillity to his people and nation, he set in motion the forces of a military machine which was to engulf his nation in disaster. In the end, it was to shatter the peace of the world.
In 1898 Kaiser William II visited the Holy Land. The king was within but a few miles of the prison city where the Prisoner had addressed that historic Message to his grandfather which foreshadowed the downfall of the Hohenzollern dynasty.
During that visit to the Holy Land, Kaiser William II allied himself with one of the most notorious persecutors of the Prisoner, the Sultan of Turkey. When he arrived in the Holy Land, one of the gates of the Holy City, Jerusalem, was torn down and widened so that proper respect and honor could be paid to this visiting monarch.
Very different had been Baha'u'llah's arrival in the Holy Land. His party of exiles had been crowded into a small boat, delayed for hours, and then transported across the bay to the fortress-city of 'Akka. He was marched through the streets, humiliated by the mob, and finally cast into the fortress-prison.
Seventy-eight persons were crowded into one room with him. They were all deprived of food and water. Most of them fell ill of malaria and typhus. Some died. All this by the edict of a Sultan of Turkey, a throne on which William II now lavished his praise.
The Kaiser on that occasion described himself "a friend of the Caliph," Sultan 'Abdu'l- Hamid of Turkey, and published the news of his affiliation with Turkey while in Jerusalem. He was proud of this new partnership of kings. Kaiser and Sultan would stand against the world. The kingdom of each of these "friends" was soon to collapse almost simultaneously, and their dynasties were to disappear forever in almost the same hour.
How aptly the Prisoner's words apply to William II during those days which the king spent in the Holy City, Jerusalem. The Kaiser made no effort to seek out the Prisoner or to inquire about him. In fact, the Kaiser ignored everything to do with the Prisoner and his Teachings. If they had ever crossed the king's mind, no doubt he dismissed them as nonsense. The "ravings" of a religious fanatic had nothing to do with him, an absolute Monarch. William dealt in more important things. Like war. His fellow-rulers would have agreed heartily. They had better things to do than visit prisoners.
Baha'u'llah's words challenged these assumptions:
"O kings of Christendom! . . . Ye welcomed Him not, neither did ye seek His Presence, that ye might hear the verses of God from His own mouth, and partake of the manifold wisdom of the Almighty . . . Ye have, by reason of your failure, hindered the breath of God from being wafted over you, and have withheld from your souls the sweetness of its fragrance . . . Ye, and all ye possess, shall pass away. Ye shall . . . be called to account for your doings . . ."
Powerful language. Very annoying to kings. Disturbing and upsetting to us as well perhaps. Mankind as a whole has tended, as an initial reaction, to automatically reject anyone who claims to speak in the name of God. Yet our civilization, particularly its moral values, arose in precisely that way. That was the authority with which Moses and Christ spoke in the past.
"The rights and privileges of all men must be protected"
Section 3- The Unsheathed Sword
The solution to the problems of the world as expressed by the Prisoner and by William II could not have been more directly opposed.
The Prisoner wrote:
"O kings of the earth! . . . Compose your differences, and reduce your armaments, that the burden of your expenditures may be lightened, and that your minds and hearts may be tranquilized."
William II, on the other hand, agitated differences among his neighbors. He increased his armaments. He laid each day a heavier burden upon his peoples, agitating a civilized nation with dreams of war and bloodshed.
The Prisoner declared:
"O kings of the earth! . . . Heal the dissentions that divide you, and ye will no longer be in need of any armaments except what the protection of your cities and territories demandeth."
William II established war as the religion of his country. He loathed any suggestions concerning disarmament or peace. He scoffed at the conclusions arrived at by the Hague Peace Conference in 1898.
Commenting on one of the Hague Peace Conferences, the Kaiser frankly admitted he despised all such peace conferences. He showed his contempt in these words: "I trust in God and in my unsheathed sword and I ---- on all resolutions of international conferences."
The advice of the Prisoner could not have been more opposed to such an attitude. He said the "peace and tranquillity of the world" depended upon the leaders of mankind coming together in a "vast assemblage." They must consult in a spirit of good will upon this all- important matter, peace.
The Prisoner wrote:
"Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves . . . We fain would hope that the kings and rulers of the earth, the mirrors of the gracious and almighty name of God, may attain unto this station, and shield mankind from the onslaught of tyranny."
A clash between the vision of the Prisoner and of the Hohenzollern kings was inevitable.
"We desire that the differences of race be annulled"
Section 4- The king of kings and the "King of Kings"
Kaiser William II lied with considerable elegance and diplomacy during the early days of his reign. He was particularly fond of invoking divine approval, and called upon Christ Himself when he assumed the kingship.
"Summoned to the throne of my fathers," William vowed, "it is with eyes raised to the King of Kings that I assume the scepter . . . "
Like his grandfather before him, William II ignored all advice. He scorned all warnings. He knew where his duty lay. He didn't need the counsel of others to tell him that Germany must be supreme.
The Prisoner had advised the rulers of men otherwise: "O kings . . . God hath committed into your hands the reins of the government of the people, that ye may rule with justice over them, safeguard the rights of the downtrodden, and punish the wrongdoers. If ye neglect the duty prescribed unto you by God in His Book, your names shall be numbered with those of the unjust in His sight. Grievous, indeed, will be your error."
Kaiser William II was unmoved by wise counsel and words of caution from whatever source they might come. "I regard myself as an instrument of heaven," Kaiser William told his people. "I go my way without regard to the events or opinions of the day."
William II had a rage for personal power so great that he could no longer tolerate the annoyance of sharing decisions even with his famous chancellor Otto von Bismarck. In March 1890, following a bitter crisis, William II forced the resignation of Bismarck. The king was overjoyed. He was at last sole ruler, "master of both little and big matters," (to quote his own words).
In that very same year, 1890, in the valley of 'Akka, in the Holy Land, the place described by Hosea as a "door of hope" for mankind, the Prisoner received a visit from a well- known British scholar Edward Granville Browne, of Cambridge University. During that interview, the Prisoner spoke of just such "ruinous wars" as the Kaiser was contemplating. He spoke of the "fruitless strifes" which plagued Europe and the world. The Prisoner said:
"We see your kings and rulers lavishing their treasures more freely on means for the destruction of the human race than on that which would conduce to the happiness of mankind."
No greater challenge to the views of Kaiser William II could be found than these words spoken by the Prisoner to Professor Browne on that occasion:
"Let a man glory in this that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind."
While the Kaiser was plotting the conquest of his neighbors by force, the Prisoner was re- emphasizing His words of unity and peace:
He told Professor Browne:
"Thou hast come to see a prisoner and an exile . . . We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem u a stirrer up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment . . . That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled- what harm is there in this? . . . Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come . . . Do not you in Europe need this also?
In Europe, that same year, 1890, Kaiser William II of Germany rejoiced at the downfall of his Chancellor Bismarck. There were no longer any restraints upon him. He announced exultantly: "The course remains as it was! Full steam ahead!"
"The scourge of Europe."
Section 5- Disaster Course
It was a disaster course.
The fate predicted by the Prisoner for all such unjust kings was soon to overtake the entire Hohenzollern dynasty. It struck initially at the Emperor to whom the Prisoner had written his first dire warnings. Later, it engulfed his successor, Kaiser William II, and abolished their rule forever.
William I sustained three attempts on his life. Although he recovered, he lived in constant fear of renewed attacks until his death. Peace of mind was gone. It was William II, however, who has to accept the guilt for ushering in the catastrophe that was to "dethrone him and his dynasty." It would be naive, of course, to blame the Kaiser alone for the advent of World War I. He was but one of many contributing causes. There is, however, no doubt that this was a war for which he longed. It was a war which he schemed to hasten in every way possible. Germany, under his goading, constantly "flexed her military muscles" at the world until at last the first blow was struck.
The might of the Kaiser's armies was immediately victorious on almost every front. His early triumphs appeared to have overpowered his adversaries. There seemed little doubt that Germany would have a quick and conclusive victory.
The news of these resounding triumphs flashed around the world. The stories of the German victories found a very welcome reception in certain quarters of Persia, the Prisoner's homeland. These easy and astonishing successes of the advancing army of Kaiser William II led to the ridicule of the Prisoner and His Faith.
The Prisoner had written:
"O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another turn."
The Prisoner had warned the Emperor of Germany of the fate that would overtake his nation and capital city if the king followed in the foolish footsteps of Napoleon III who had already "gone down to dust."
The Prisoner had written:
"Think deeply, O King . . . Be warned, be of them who reflect . . . We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous glory."
The Kaiser and the world may have paid little attention to the Prisoner's prophecies about Germany, but his enemies in Persia had not forgotten. This was their hour of delight. The news spread rapidly. It was too good to keep: "His great prophecy about Germany has proved to be false!"
"Where are the lamentations of Berlin?"
"Are the banks of the Rhine covered with blood?"
"Has Germany had even one turn, let alone a second?"
The devoted followers of the Prisoner remained silent as the German army advanced. What could they say? The Prisoner's ominous words about Germany had remained unfulfilled. The Rhine had not been a scene of slaughter. Instead, Berlin was in "conspicuous glory."
Exactly the opposite of what the Prisoner had prophesied was taking place in Germany. The Kaiser was sweeping all before him. In many quarters, the might of the Kaiser's armies was considered to be well-nigh invincible.
The magnificently trained divisions of the German High Command became the scourge of Europe. Under the banner of "Gott mit uns!" (God is with us) they rolled over every opposition. They delighted their friends and terrified their enemies. They were making a laughingstock of the Prisoner's predictions.
God did indeed appear to be with the Kaiser.
"The teeth of the tiger are drawn, and he is banished forever."
Section 6- The Inglorious Exit
The tragic events which succeeded these early triumphs proved that the Prisoner's words had been no idle prediction.
Every beholder with "eyes to see" was soon to gaze upon the awesome fulfillment of every one of His pronouncements. The consequences, long delayed, were all the more severe. The Prisoner had written for all who doubted the potency of God to achieve His ends: "Dost thou believe thou hast the power to frustrate His Will, to hinder Him from executing His judgment, or to deter Him from exercising His sovereignty? Pretendest thou that aught in the heavens or in the earth can resist His Faith? No, by Him Who is the Eternal Truth! Nothing whatsoever in the whole of creation can thwart His Purpose. (Gleanings, page 220)
Those words soon came true. The war which had begun so impressively for Germany, suddenly soured on every front. Unforeseen reverses, swift and fatal, overtook the Kaiser and all his armies. And then, suddenly the war was lost!
The "terms of a treaty notorious in its severity" crushed the life out of the German people. It shrouded their hopes for the future. The "lamentations of Berlin" were heard on every side.
The Prisoner's enemies in Persia now bitterly regretted having called attention to those fate-laden words contained in His prophecies.
Even more remarkable than the "lamentations of Berlin" was the promise which the Prisoner had directed to the banks of the Rhine:
"O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another turn."
Because of an aggressive military policy, Germany suffered not once, but twice. She was crushed in both World Wars.
Two times the banks of the Rhine were "covered with gore." Twice the "lamentations of Berlin" were heard around the world. The German nation did have "another turn" when the "swords of retribution" were raised against her a second time, and bombs. Nations shattered the Nazi empire of Adolph Hitler, leveling many parts of the capital city, Berlin. (Ironically, the Hohenzollern Crown Prince, William, served in a Nazi motor division and was captured by the French. The youngest son of Kaiser William II, August Wilhelm, also appeared in the ranks of the Nazis and fell with them.)
On November 11, 1918, newspaper headlines in Berlin flashed the news; "Kaiser abdicates!"
The dumbfounded and war-weary Emperor had not yet even been informed. On Sunday, November 10, one day before the Armistice, William II had fled ignominiously to Holland, his train slipping quietly away from the station at Spa into the early morning fog. The Kaiser transferred to an automobile at the Dutch frontier. It was an humiliating experience. Not only had his armies surrendered, but there, at Dutch customs, Kaiser William had to surrender his sword to the customs officer. The teeth of the tiger had been drawn, and he was banished from his homeland forever, exactly as the Prisoner had been banished.
Taylor, in his history, states, "There have been more tragic and more disgraceful exits from the stage of history, but few more inglorious."
"I will destroy the king and the princes."
Section 7- The Second Kingdom Falls!
The Hohenzollern dynasty "passed away." With it vanished many of their fellow kings and princes.
Before November 15, 1918, the princes of all the German States had abdicated, and all other contemporary German thrones had fallen.
The King, the Crown Prince, and all the lesser Princes of Germany were removed completely and permanently from their places of honor. The empire of the Hohenzollerns toppled to the dust. Its official death-knell was sounded November 28, 1918, when William II signed a formal act of abdication which ended his rule both as Prussian King and German Emperor.
This document brought to an end the two hundred and fifty-year reign of oppression by the powerful Hohenzollern dynasty. The Constitution which followed swept away forever the German monarchy. It carried into oblivion with it all the imperial princes, and scattered forever all the lesser kings of German states, along with their attendant princes. Around the world, clergymen saw in these cataclysmic events the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies. But the truth is far greater than any of them grasped. The prophet Jeremiah speaking of the latter days, said that God promised:
"And I will set my throne in Elam (Persia), and will destroy from thence the king and the princes . . . "
The Prisoner had come from Elam (Persia). He had already delivered the commands whose rejection had led to the destruction of the kings and princes of two great nations. The entire story of Baha'u'llah has its roots deep in the scriptures of all the great religions. In the fate of the other monarchs to whom Baha'u'llah directed His appeal was to be the fulfillment of even more remarkable promises and warnings.
In Germany, the second kingdom had fallen!
Prisoner and the Kings by William Sears