Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Wilhelm II: Policy Making in 1914 Berlin
Wilhelm II Policy Making in 1914 BerlinQ. Who was in charge of insurance in Berlin in 1914 and why did they act as theydid? A vigorous transition to an imperialist indemnity will exceed Germ each(prenominal) the spaceit needs . . . An unsuccessful show of struggle depose no more(prenominal)(prenominal) than set Germany back,although for a want time England it can destroy. As superior England will berid of an awk contendd competitor Germany will conk out what England is directly, the world position.(Das Neue Deutschland)The perpetual emphasis on peace at every luck suitable andunsuitable has, in the last 43 eld of peace, produced an altogethereunuch- homogeneous posture amongst the statesmen and diplomats of Europe(Wilhelm II)Historians of the Great fight divide into cardinal main camps when debating who were the principal policy-makers and men-in-charge of Germany at the outbreak of war in the spend of 1914. The number 1 in heretofore, led historians such as F ritz Fischer, indicates that Germanys Kaiser, Wilhelm II, Germanys violet chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg, and Germanys brain of the common Staff, Helmuth Moltke, colluded to countly and consciously begin complete and non- place war. This school states that Germanys imperialist ambitions as exemplified in the quotations above maturation as they did out of case rob and exuberance of her unification in 1871, had given Germany an insatiable appetite to copy and surpass the semipolitical hegemony enjoyed hence by England. The second school, led by nearly defunct and slushy German national historians analogous Kessler, rejects the suggestion of a premeditated European war and posits a state of affairs where, under extreme world-wide pressure, Germanys politicians had to, as a last resort, cede authority to the host so that they could defend Germany from hostile neighbours. This essay will argue that the neat bulk of past and historical demonstration Wilhelms and others personal diaries, phalanx documents, parliamentary papers and so on reveal that the outset school has it right when they say that policy was made in collusion amid Wilhelm II, Bethmann and Moltkes army. These policy-makers acted as they did because they feared that their opportunity for imperialist expansion was to the highest degree to close, and with it Germanys long- desire-for hopes of world-power. The Imperial Chancellor and Moltke manipulated the Reichstag and Kaiser Wilhelm II so as to engender the heedful inevitability of war..According to Hewitson1, twain potentially critical policy-makers the German domain particularly the newly-formed industrialized and urbanized classes and German political parties were sidelined from major policy decisions near the start of the war. The unification of Germany under Bismarck in 1871 had, like in Italy, summ one(a)d up an awesome spirit of nationalism amongst Germans, and this nationalist pride flowed out into ambitions for Germ any to swallow an empire to rival those of England and France. In the same stay, German society underwent a tremendous social and political transformation, with power go from the old Junker and agri heathenish classes to Germanys huge new urbanized masses. This pouch from agriculture to industry meant that the urbanized Germans now had a potentially decisive voice in national affairs and policy decisions. In 1914 it was not explicit however that Germanys industrialized citizens would have unanimously plump for the type of war that was declared by its leaders that summer. Bethmann speciously rented, by and by the war, that . . . the war did not arise out of single diplomatic actions, yet was rather a result of creation passion. In reality, whilst the German public knew the general background to the international bunk, they knew nearly nothing whatsoever close to the particular decisions and policies that were being made by their leaders in the critical hebdomads in July 1 914. Of course, not knowing of the seriousness of level offts in Serbia and Austria, the German public were not able to use their considerable power to have any effect upon the policy-decisions stub those events.Hewitson2 argues that Bethmann, Zimmermann, Jagow, the Kaiser and Moltke by design kept the German mess in the dark because they feared that the people might raise opposition to an war-ridden and non- place conflict. Thus, Clemens von Delbruck, Secretary of State for the Interior in 1914, could state that . . . we (the Chancellors division) have not spoken about foreign policy at all, the daily press was completely calm, and no one amongst the visitors present guess the slightest thing about the imminent danger of war. Journalists and the public they account for were subjected to a lengthy and elaborate efforts from the Kaiser and his armament to conceal Germanys unfeigned intentions until such a point that when did be baffle known to the public, it would like Germa ny was a victim and still fighting a vindicatory and localized war. The Chief of Wilhelms Naval Cabinet thus stated in July 1914 that The regimen has managed brilliantly to make us (Germany) look like the attacked34.A kindred blanket was thrown everyplace the eyes of Germanys politicians and political parties. at one time afterwards Archduke Ferdinands character assassination in Sarajevo, most of Germanys politicians were international from Berlin on their annual holi eld this simple fact meant that their influence over policy, and any opposition they might have normally raised to the aggression of Wilhelm and Moltke, was largely neutralized by their absence. By the time politicians returned to Berlin, the decision to go to war had been made and they had no retrospective power to reverse this policy. Likewise, German politicians were vicious for a major underestimation of the seriousness of events after the Sarajevo bombing. Politicians and liberal newspapers such as the V ossiche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Zeitung say in the immediate aftermath of the assassination that the Serbian government had no part in the crime even right-wing newspapers such as the Berliner Neueste Nachrichten neither anticipated nor called for retaliation against Serbia for the assassination. This attitude can be praised for forecastking to pacify Germany and to avoid war it can likewise be criticized for a certain naivety, underestimating the true intentions of the German multitude. These two groups then the German public and the German politicians can be s promote to have had a very limited effect upon the policy decisions considern in July 1914.If not these, who then were the principal policy-makers in charge in 1914? Kaiser Wilhelm II ostensibly, and perhaps in reality, was a central figure in such decisions. Wilhelm was the supreme figure in German life he was Commander-in-Chief of the German army, and was empowered by Articles 11 and 18 of the German piece of m usic to declare war. The allies recognised Wilhelms centrality in controlling policy in 1914 when at the Treaty of Versailles they named him as a war illegal with direct responsibility for Germanys deliberate attempt to begin the war. This designate of Wilhelms central involvement, and his desire for war, is supported by documentary evidence from the weeks and months immediately anterior the war. Writing of Friedrich von Pourtales, German ambassador to Russia, Wilhelm said that he would do better to leave unwritten his thoughts about Russias wish of desire for war. Later, also of Pourtales, that He makes those who are ignorant of Russia and weak, suspect characters amongst his readers, only conf utilize5. Numerous other ambassadorial documents and diaries reveal that, within the German and international diplomatic community, Wilhelms opinions were believed to directly shape and determine the steering of German foreign policy6. Given the tone and content of the quotations cite d above, it is clear that, if Wilhelm did so have as much power as his diplomats believed, that he used this to engender war measuredly and on a grand photographic plate rather in defence or in a localized context.Nonetheless, numerous historians, Kennedy and Herwig for instance, argue that diplomatic assessments of Wilhelms powers were blinkered, and that in lawfulness he had profoundly little influence over policy in 1914. Kennedy7 describes how Wilhelms power and influence over policy, at its acme wholesome-nigh 1900, began to wane due to scandal and incompetence in the years preceding 1914. The disastrous Daily Telegraph foreign policy decisions, as well as the Eulenberg court scandal, had led to plummet of his authority amongst both the German public and its ruling elites in Kennedys phrase he pretermited a personal regime that would have provided more decisive influence over policy. Wilhelm II confounded his loss of authority by dragging behind him an entourage of incom petent ambassadorial and diplomatic staff such as Pourtales, Wilhelm von Schoen and Karl Max von Lichnowsky. The Imperial Chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg, had often strange Wilhelms decisions in the years in advance the war, and at the moment of the Serbian crisis reports show that Bethmanns power clearly exceeded that possessed by Wilhelm. For instance, on July 5th 1914, Alexander von Hykos, appealed to Germany for aid in the Serbian crisis Wilhelm II at once promised Ladislaus Szogyeny-Marich, Austrias ambassador to Berlin Germans total support, but conditioned this promise with the adjacent words . . . that he (Wilhelm) must first hear what the Imperial Chancellor had to say. Wilhelm II, conscious of previous challenges to his authority by Bethman, did not call for to risk humiliation by promising Szogyeny-Marich Germanys undoubted support, when he had first to inquire from Bethmann whether indeed the government would endorse such a policy.Further, during the crucial mean sola r days of policy-making after Ferdinands assassination, the Imperial Chancellor deliberately kept Wilhelm II on holiday in Norway, and away from Berlin, for as long as possible. Central phalanx policy-makers such as Tirpitz, Falkenhayn, Moltke and Waldersee returned from their holidays on July 24th Wilhelm II did not return until the 27th just one day before the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia became effective. Further, the Serbian government had sent a reply to Austrias ultimatum on July 25th, yet the Chancellor was not permitted to see this reply until after Austrias declaration of war. On August maiden the Kaiser, now avowing peace, sought to prevent war by halting German multitude mobilization in the West, thus enabling Britain and France to make declarations of their neutrality. Nonetheless, his interventions were opposed and by both Bethmann Hollweg and Moltke, and these oppositions proved decisive.All in all, such subservience and acquiescence to the Imperial Chancellor and to Moltke shows the fallacy of the power of the official titles held by Wilhelm II he was Commander-in-Chief only in name, and the decision behind any declaration of war would be made principally by Bethmann Hollweg and by Moltke. As Stevenson has put it On each policy-making occasion before the war, and whether counselling war or peace, the Kaisers demands were overridden8. Initially, the Kaiser gave his total support in the policy of deliberately beginning war, for he, like most Germans, sought to amplification Germanys international prestige. And during this time, it was advantageous for Bethmann and Moltke to let the Kaiser and his entourage believe that he still retained significant power over foreign policy but the emptiness of that authority quickly becomes evident during the last week of July, when Wilhelm II turns to oppose war, but is thwarted in his attempts by the more powerful Bethmann and Moltke9.The last section of this essay implied that the true policy-makers in B erlin in 1914 were Moltke and Bethmann Hollweg and that their intentions were , from the start of the Serbian crisis, and indeed from much earlier, to pursue a deliberate policy of expansive war and to replace Englands world political hegemony with its own. This section turns to examine these claims in depth, and to supply evidence for them. Principally, that the German General Staff and fight Ministry, frustrated with the failure of imperialist strategy in recent years, and sensing the opportunity for an imperialist advance rapidly failing, that the military deliberately provoked the international community into the inevitability of war.In the days immediately preceding the Austrian declaration of war, and in stark line of work to the nescience of the German public, leading German military figures knew intimately the state of affairs in Austria and Serbia and were controlling both the flow of information about the crisis and the decisions that were to be made based upon it. Many German military figures were, like German politicians, absent on holiday when the Serbian assassination also place yet unlike the politicians, Germanys generals returned quickly to Berlin to seize the opportunity to effect their long-term war strategy. For instance, although later denying the accusation, Waldersee was shown, in recently reveal parliamentary papers, to have returned terzetto times from holiday back to Berlin during the period July 20th27th. During these visits he was in intimate contact with Austrian military commanders, and was actively gathering extensive military intelligence about the zeal and preparation of the Austrians to go to war. Moltke, likewise, penned to his wife on July 22nd that I am sorry not to be able to stay here (Karlsbad) other week, but I have to return to Berlin and Tomorrow, the 23rd is the critical day I am eager to find out what will exceed10. Comments like these imply a War Ministry highly cognizant of the events about them and of the influence that they might have in directing these events. Thus, historians like Mombauer11, argue that the German military deliberately escalated the already precarious international situation by effecting a military takeover in Germany. For instance, on July 29th, Moltke gave Bethmann a document called Summary of the Political Situation yet within three days mobilization of the German army had already begun.The spiritual turn over of mankind is only possible through Germany. Thisis why Germany will not lose this war it is the only nation that can, at thepresent moment, take charge of leading mankind towards a higher destiny(Helmuth von Moltke, November 1914)12Helmuth von Moltke, Germanys Chief of the General Staff, and supreme military leader for most of WWI, had big influence the policy-decisions made in the days immediately preceding war. As the above quotation suggests, and as innumerable other bellicose statements of Moltke corroborate, the German military were inspired to w ar by the patriotic and nationalistic mentation that Germany should have international hegemony over the cultural and spiritual life of man. It is so very difficult to believe that Moltke, and other similarly minded military leaders, were content to wait patiently for the realization of these ambitions whilst the opportunity to enact them seemed to be dwindling. Instead, the generals knew that success depended upon an aggressive and vigorous provocation of international tensions so as to ignite war. Moltke was instrumental in effecting this provocation and his slogan that war should come the sooner the better has lingered in history as a volition to his bellicose intent. Moltke influence over the Sclieffen/Moltke Plan was enormous, and this picture was perhaps the most explicit declaration of aggressive intent seen before the war deliberately seeking as it did to violate the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg so as to provoke a chain-reaction whereby England and France would b e drawn into the war also. Mombauer argues that Moltke and his generals had decided long before the war that a successful campaign would have first to swiftly defeat France and the West swiftly, before turning to combat Russia. This plan depended upon strict adherence to a tight military strategy, and therefore the subjugation, of alternate political concerns such as the preservation of peaceComplicit in these preparations for war was the Imperial Chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg. Though he protested somewhat at the celerity with which the military preparations gathered momentum Hewitson13 records an argument (Ausienandersetzung) between Molke and Bethmann on July 30th Bethmann nonetheless was cognizant of the preparations that his military men were making, and of the fact that these preparations were neither for a defensive nor a localized war. To this end, Bethmann told his ambassadors, on the eve of the war, that . . . we have accepted the manipulation of mediator confirming h is acquiescence to the generals will. Stevenson argues that Bethmanns outward protests against war, such as his last minute demand for a halt in capital of Serbia and Montenegro, were never pursued vigorously enough or believed either by Bethmann himself or by the military. An entry from General Falkenhayns diary, dated July 30th, states that, after talks with Bethmann, Falkenhayn had . . . got the decision accepted over the imminent danger of war14. In other words, Bethmann either willingly consented or meekly acquiesced to the preparations for war as readied by Moltke. Wilson argues further that, rather than having a military take-over constrained upon his government, and thereby being unwillingly dragged into conflict, Bethmann in fact, on the evening of July 30th, still had the chance to pressure Austria to restrict its military mobilization and therefore to slow-down Russias also. Bethmann made no such appeal, and therefore, Wilson argues, endorsed the militarys aggressive plan ning.In the utmost analysis, the two principal policy-makers in Berlin in 1914 were Molke and Bethmann though substantially aided by the Kaiser, even if he was not always in full conscious of his contribution to these decisions. The impossibility of maintaining the old argument that German policy-makers only entered WWI in self-defence, and then that they only intended a localized war, ought to be evident to any modern and objective historian. Since Fischers seminal War of Illusions was published in the 1967, historians of all countries, aided by the discovery of a vast amount of documentation from the period, have begun to ask not whether Germany sought war deliberately, but why she did so. Principally, Germany sought war because, since the efflorescence of national pride engendered by unification in 1871, Germany possessed a zest to follow the imperialist expansion of countries like England and France a longing immortalized in the German caricature of Sleepy Michael, who has woken up too late to claim his part of the international map. In 1914 Moltke and his military advisors thought they saw a moment to realize these ambitions. The European political and military conditions of 1914, aided by the catalyst of Archduke Ferdinands assassination, seemed to open a window for a now or never lightning military thrust. The usual checks such as the Reichstag and public opinion that might have prevented or at least localized the war, were bypassed by the rapidity of events in the last week of July 1914, and by the lack of information that was made available to these groups. A historians final reflection on the question of policy might then be this that Germanys irrepressible jealousy of Britain, born out of convictions of her own cultural and spiritual supremacy, led her policy-makers to deliberately engineer the inevitability of war.BIBLIOGRAPHYBrose, E.D. (2001). The Kaisers soldiers The Politics of Military Technology During the Machine Age. Oxford Universit y Press, Oxford.Carroll, E.M. (1938). Germany and the Great Powers, 1860-1914. natural York, fancy Press.Coetzee, M.S. (1990). The German Army League Popular Nationalism in Wilhelmine Germany. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Cole, T.F. (1991). German Decision-Making on the Eve of the introductory- piece War. Kaisermunch Press, Munich,Ferro, M. 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Germany and the Causes of the First World War. Berg, Oxford, p. 195.2 Hewitson, M. (2002). Germany and the Causes of the First World War. Berg, Oxford, p. 198.3 Herwig, H. (1991). The Outbreak of World War I Causes and Responsibilities. (5th Ed.) Lexington,Massachusetts, p55.45 Carroll, E.M. (1938). Germany and the Great Powers, 1860-1914. New York, Fantasy Press, p190.6 Stevenson, D. (1988). The First World War and International Politics. Oxford University Press,Oxford.7 Kennedy, P.M. (Edit.) (1979). The War Plans of the Great Powers 1880-1914. New Haven, London.8 Stevenson, D. (1988). The First World War and International Politics. Oxford University Press,O xford, p200.9 Stevenson, D. (1988). The First World War and International Politics. Oxford University Press,Oxford, p251.10 Hewitson, M. (2002). Germany and the Causes of the First World War. Berg, Oxford, p. 210.11 Mombauer, A. (2001). Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War. CambridgeUniversity Press, Cambridge, p433.12 Mombauer, A. (2001). Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War. CambridgeUniversity Press, Cambridge, p283.13 Hewitson, M. (2002). Germany and the Causes of the First World War. Berg, Oxford, p202.14 Wilson, K. M. (1995). Decisions for War 1914. Oxford University Press, Oxford.