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In July 1900, Kaiser Wilhelm II delivered a speech to troops leaving to suppress the Boxer Rebellion, an effort by Chinese forces to stave off foreign influence and the dismemberment of their country by the Great Powers.

Addressing his forces, the impulsive Kaiser stated:
When you come upon the enemy, smite him. Pardon will not be given. Prisoners will not be taken. Whoever falls into your hands is forfeit. Once, a thousand years ago, the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one still potent in legend and tradition.

May you in this way make the name German remembered in China for a thousand years, so that no Chinaman will ever again dare to even squint at a German!
This speech, invoking the memory of the 5th-century Huns, coupled with the Pickelhaube, or spiked helmet, worn by German forces until 1916 – reminiscent of ancient Hun helmets – was seized upon by enemy propagandists during the Great War. The Germans quickly became associated with the barbaric Hun.
Rex Palmer, Barnet, Hertfordshire, from The Daily Mail, 12th May 2007.

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