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  • Causes of the war.

    I've always thought of Kaiser Wilhelm II as the man that basically screwed everything up for Germany, Europe, and the world.

    Germany had unified in 1871 through the use of Bismarck's brilliant combination of foreign diplomacy and short military campaigns. France had been totally isolated, Russia and Germany signed secret treaties 'reinsurance treaties' in the 1880s. These ensured Germany and Russia remained on friendly terms, and that France remained isolated, [no enemies on two fronts] and Britain not yet alarmed at Bismarck's short wars and limited territory ambitions.

    Germany was at it's zenith, and the major continental power in 19th century Europe.

    Then came what I think was the defining moment for Germany [and Europe] in the coming century, the death of Friedrich 3rd.

    He was a great admirer of British parliamentary institutions, and dreamed of remaking Germany along democratic lines, unfortunately he died 99 days after assuming the throne.

    His 29 yr old son William, became the new emperor, and every thing went down hill for Germany from then on.

    Under the Kaiser, and his dilettantish dreams of a world empire, Germany sought its "place in the sun" and in many instances did its utmost to meddle and provoke [i.e Morocco] Russia asked for a renewal of the reinsurance treaty, but Germany refused persistently which eventually pushed France and Russia together.

    And to cap it off, Britain was alienated and alarmed by the German Naval programme, and eventually joined France and Russia.

    Germany, was now locked in to a unwindable war on two fronts, and to make sure it wouldn't win, provoked America, sealing Germany's fate.

    Germany was extremely unfortunate to have one of Europe's most brilliant statesmen in Bismarck, followed by a dilettante Kaiser putting Germany in a untenable position in the First war, which led to a perfect breeding ground for the psychopathic Corporal and the scum of Nazi Germany to start the Second war and repeat the blunders of the Kaiser.

    And IMHO I think the Versailles treaty is vastly over rated as a WW2 excuse.

    Just a few very brief thoughts on a very involved period.

  • #2
    I think you are right in detail as well in terms of policy. Whats clear if you read Keagan is that in the run up to the release of troops for mobilisation the Kaiser was responsible for either
    1. Ignoring communications
    2. Misinterpreting them
    3. misinforming the parties of his intentions.
    4. Then went of sailing!!


    He has a hand in persuading the Austrians its OK so they miss the near total capitulation by Serbia without a fight and go for the invasion.

    He is like a child playing at leadership, posturing and primping himself up but actually not in any way understanding whats happening.

    He then compounds it all he hesitates thus robbing the Germans of the small chance of making the plan work.

    Germany of course was not a democratic nation and once mobilization happens everything is out of his hands. It becomes a military state.

    I recommend Keagans book on WWI, recently read it, Liddel-Harts and another at the same time it makes a fascinating comparison. Liddle-Harts is the school History lesson version of the first world war and Keagan Digs nicely for that extra insight and gives a great view of the Rollercoaster that was the start.

    Verbal

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    • #3
      I recommend Keagans book on WWI, recently read it, Liddel-Harts and another at the same time it makes a fascinating comparison. Liddle-Harts is the school History lesson version of the first world war and Keagan Digs nicely for that extra insight and gives a great view of the Rollercoaster that was the start.
      Do you mean Keagan's book "The First World War"./ I found it excellent, great over view but still enough detail. He was able to tell a lot in few words.

      HP
      "Ask not what your country can do for you"

      Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

      you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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      • #4
        Martin Gilbert also gives a good overview of the War in his book, called what else, "The First World War".

        However, the Kaiser is far from the only one to be blamed for starting the war. In fact, he's not really to blame at all unless you count his previous saber-rattling and blustering. But in this case he was actually right. He went sailing during the month of July because he in no way thought that the incident would be blown out of porportion and drag Europe into war. All he told Austria was that he would back whatever move they made toward Serbia and he would honor his treaty obligations if Russia went to war on Serbia's behalf against Austria.

        I think the blame should properly be laid at the Tsar's feet, as it was his ally which sponsored terrorism and the assassination of the Archduke of Austria. Serbia had punishment coming for allowing the Black Hand to operate from it's territory and for giving covert aid to them. Austria had every right to demand their extradition and for Serbia to stop supporting them. So alot of the blame falls on Serbia and Russia for allowing this to happen. Russia should have told the Serbs that since you are supporting terrorism, you are on your own.

        Austria too gets some of the blame for not being "man enough" to move without promises of German support. If they had just immediatly moved on Serbia, the whole thing could have been avoided.

        France and Germany get some of the blame, more so on France IMHO, because of their constant agitating over their lost provinces. They also at every turn, tried to thwart the Germans over just about everything and tried to ally with anyone and everyone against Germany. Which was bound to keep things between them on edge. Germany gets a small part of the blame because of it's ill-advised naval building program. There was only one country that was aimed at and England was sure to feel threatened over it.

        The main thing to blame is the whole European treaty system. It almost ensured total war when one country went to war against another. Everyone was worried about being behind in the mobilization of troops and once that started, it was very difficult to stop.

        There's alot of reading and research to do before anyone lays the blame for WW1 solely at the Kaiser's feet.
        Last edited by R. Evans; 07 Aug 07, 13:41.
        Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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        • #5
          Mobilization reaction, alliances (and the German-Austrian alliance in particular), and the dead weight of failing regimes and political systems are all to blame for starting it.
          I think that Germany is definitely more responsible for escalating it, where as it is not as easy to define who started it. If Germany had not marched through Belgium, England may have stayed out. The same if they had never built the Imperial fleet (or if England had not reacted to it the same way). Russia could have done better for Serbia by peace talks or even direct intervention, but not in indirect aid. I am sympathetic towards the Serbs and I'm not a fan of the old Austro-Hungarian empire, but it's hard to overlook the terrorism as provoking Serbia's nightmare (making it worse for them).

          If you want me to blame one man, I blame this guy:

          Dragutin Dimitrijević


          Also between Gilbert and Keegan, I thought that Gilbert's was better.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Swampwolf View Post
            Mobilization reaction, alliances (and the German-Austrian alliance in particular), and the dead weight of failing regimes and political systems are all to blame for starting it.
            I think that Germany is definitely more responsible for escalating it, where as it is not as easy to define who started it. If Germany had not marched through Belgium, England may have stayed out. The same if they had never built the Imperial fleet (or if England had not reacted to it the same way). Russia could have done better for Serbia by peace talks or even direct intervention, but not in indirect aid. I am sympathetic towards the Serbs and I'm not a fan of the old Austro-Hungarian empire, but it's hard to overlook the terrorism as provoking Serbia's nightmare (making it worse for them).

            If you want me to blame one man, I blame this guy:

            Dragutin Dimitrijević


            Also between Gilbert and Keegan, I thought that Gilbert's was better.

            Is that the leader of the Black Hand? Or is that the colonel in the Serbian secret police who was implicated in the plot? I ask because I do know that it is not the assassin of the archduke. That was Gavilio Princip, I believe. Spelling is probably wrong though.
            Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Swampwolf View Post
              Mobilization reaction, alliances (and the German-Austrian alliance in particular), and the dead weight of failing regimes and political systems are all to blame for starting it.
              I think that Germany is definitely more responsible for escalating it, where as it is not as easy to define who started it. If Germany had not marched through Belgium, England may have stayed out. The same if they had never built the Imperial fleet (or if England had not reacted to it the same way). Russia could have done better for Serbia by peace talks or even direct intervention, but not in indirect aid. I am sympathetic towards the Serbs and I'm not a fan of the old Austro-Hungarian empire, but it's hard to overlook the terrorism as provoking Serbia's nightmare (making it worse for them).

              If you want me to blame one man, I blame this guy:

              Dragutin Dimitrijević


              Also between Gilbert and Keegan, I thought that Gilbert's was better.
              Your opening sentence is dead on...seldom is there a "specific" reason to any conflict. Arms race, new political theories, alliances, vultures circling the remaining vestages of old empires, it might be an interesting thread to ask, "if the Assassination never happened, what other event could have torched Europe?"
              My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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              • #8
                My interpretation of the war is that it really was something that each nation got sucked into one by one. Half of the blame can go to the autocrats who simply didn't do what they could have to avert the catastrophy. The other half goes to circumstance and the flawed system.
                It's just like Nicholas II and his decade of extreme apathy that culminated in his abdication and death - when I first realized just how much of the pre-revolution chaos was the result of his inactivity or the completely unchecked meddling of various parties (Stolypin's death being the very worst of these things). He had an infinite number of chances to stop or at least slow down the chaos. It is a similar case with the other monarchs of Europe.

                A strange parallel can be found with Stolypin's death and Franz Ferdinand's death. They were both extremely progressive (in a good, actual sense of the word, I mean) reformers who were the worst person a radical could have killed.
                I'd rather Annie Oakly had shot the Kaiser or something instead, or Lenin had fallen down the stairs.

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                • #9
                  Another point of blame rests with Moltke (the younger) for insisting that a halt to mobilization would wreck the reich's scheme. While train schedules were almost impossibly hard to untangle, I think it at least arguable that mobilization could have been frozen (not reversed) for a few days to sort out the problems between Willly and Nicky. The German General Staff was good enough at improvising that it could have provisioned its troops while at marshaling points for a few days, then picked up with "Mobilization Day 3" or whatever the next day was if diplomacy didn't work.

                  The Kaiser appears to have been convinced by his COS that mobilization was an all or nothing proposition, and in that situation, it would have been disastrous to be, militarily, "a little pregnant."

                  This is not to exculpate the Kaiser, but to propose that his military advisors were not trying as hard as they could have to find a way to give diplomacy a chance, and share some of the blame.
                  "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                  -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                  (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

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                  • #10
                    Moltke the younger was a man in a shadow and he had read Schlifiens notes and knew that it was not likely to succeed but had no other ideas..

                    I Agree that if Austria had struck first when the event happen it would not have gone to the lengths it did. If Austria had excepted the near total capitulation of the Serbs as a result of their ultimatum then it may not have happened. But Germany/Austria and Russia are countries run by their monarchs so I think those individuals are at greater responsibility for their actions. The kaiser doesn't he is a child in an adult arena and his actions support this.

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                    • #11
                      He went sailing during the month of July because he in no way thought that the incident would be blown out of porportion and drag Europe into war.
                      No. He was full aware of risks as Germany, like all Europeans countries already considered a war as a very likely event. In this case, should he have been trying to avoid it, he would have remained at Berlin were all Europeans embassies could be more rapidly contacted. He did not.

                      Austria had every right to demand their extradition and for Serbia to stop supporting them.
                      AH sent an ultumiatum to Serbia who answered yes. What Serbia could have done more ? AHwas seeking for an excuse to attack Serbia, not to revenge an assassination.

                      ...more so on France IMHO, because of their constant agitating over their lost provinces.
                      What would have been reaction of Americans if Ohio and Michigan had been lost to Canada after a war ?

                      Bisrmarck was a brilliant leader but he made the mistake to forget that the nationalism which was the driving force behind Germany creation was also a force at work in other countries. His main aim was to use Metz as a fortress against French to protect the Rhine.

                      Germany gets a small part of the blame because of it's ill-advised naval building program.
                      There was some sort of equilibrium in Europe. Trying to alter it strongly in favor of Germany (already the most powerful land force behind Russia) was too much for England and Russia. For this, the Kaiser is the sole responsible. As Aussie pointed out Bismark had left an ideal situation, only Whilem II blown up it.
                      Last edited by Metryll; 07 Aug 07, 13:38.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Metryll View Post
                        No. He was full aware of risks as Germany, like all Europeans countries already considered a war as a very likely event. In this case, should he have been trying to avoid it, he would have remained at Berlin were all Europeans embassies could be more rapidly contacted. He did not.



                        AH sent an ultumiatum to Serbia who answered yes. What Serbia could have done more ? AHwas seeking for an excuse to attack Serbia, not to revenge an assassination.



                        What would have been reaction of Americans if Ohio and Michigan had been lost to Canada after a war ?

                        Bisrmarck was a brilliant leader but he made the mistake to forget that the nationalism which was the driving force behind Germany creation was also a force at work in other countries. His main aim was to use Metz as a fortress against French to protect the Rhine.



                        There was some sort of equilibrium in Europe. Trying to alter it strongly in favor of Germany (already the most powerful land force behind Russia) was too much for England and Russia. For this, the Kaiser is the sole responsible. As Aussie pointed out Bismark had left an ideal situation, only Whilem II blown up it.
                        Losing Michigan no big deal but as for Ohio? Oh, I'm sure we would agitate over their return. Hence another war probably. I didn't say France was wrong over their constant bellyaching over their loss, all I said was that they resented it and tried to right it by any means possible. They bear some blame for the war. And I thought that the seizure of Alsace-Lorraine was something forced on Bismarck by the Kaiser and Moltke the Elder. Bismarck, IIRC, knew that their incorporation in the Reich would be a headache for years to come and tried to get his Kaiser to drop the demand for them.

                        And Serbia did not say yes to all the Austrians demands, only the ones that were easy for them to comply to, they said no to the Austrians helping with the investigation of the crime and to extraditing any Serb officer implicated in the crime. Hardly being compliant or apologetic.
                        Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                        • #13
                          Losing Michigan no big deal but as for Ohio?:
                          If they keep Detroit and Mike Moore they don't even have to take it.
                          "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                          Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                          you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Half Pint View Post
                            If they keep Detroit and Mike Moore they don't even have to take it.
                            We'll also prod the Canadians to wipe Ann Arbor off the map along with the school that resides there. Ann Arbor is a *****!!


                            Hijack of thread is now officially over. Sorry.
                            Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                            • #15
                              Oh, I'm sure we would agitate over their return. Hence another war probably. I didn't say France was wrong over their constant bellyaching over their loss, all I said was that they resented it and tried to right it by any means possible.
                              In other words US waging a war for reagianing two States would be good but France doing the same for two provinces is bad. Funny

                              I'm not stating that France did not share part of blame, but the way you present to put most of blame on her while mimizing other, especially Germany.

                              And Serbia did not say yes to all the Austrians demands, only the ones that were easy for them to comply to, they said no to the Austrians helping with the investigation of the crime and to extraditing any Serb officer implicated in the crime. Hardly being compliant or apologetic.
                              No : "The text of the ultimatum follows, as does the Serbian response, which virtually conceded all demands made by the Austro-Hungarians bar one or two minor clauses. Nonetheless, war was declared by Austria-Hungary shortly afterwards."

                              http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/...nultimatum.htm

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