Essay Germany Responsible Ww1

Bethmann-Hollweg also added the concept of a coherent Central African Empire, which, however, was never specified in this context.The plans concerning Russia and other Eastern European states also remained conspicuously indeterminate, possibly because only a victory in the western parts of Europe seemed tangible at the time.

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Against the backdrop of growing tensions and the looming military breakdown of France at the height of the Battle of the Marne, Bethmann-Hollweg eventually composed an agenda of war aims that clearly reflected specific internal concerns.

Current research thus often emphasizes that the so-called Septemberprogramm of 9 September 1914 does not constitute a coherent concept, but rather a loose array of demands attributed to various groups.

This article traces the development of the war aims discussion: The nationalist War Aims Movement (Kriegszielbewegung) and the Supreme Military Command (Oberste Heeresleitung, OHL) pursued ever-more excessive war aims, which eventually led to the revocation of the prevailing truce (Burgfrieden) with the Social Democrats (SPD) and to the latter's eventual split in 1917.

Russia’s October Revolution represented the apex of the annexationist war aims, which was, however, followed shortly by the German defeat.

Since the end of August 1914, the war aims debate was dominated by the annexationist War Aim Movement (Kriegszielbewegung), which included the extreme right, led by the Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband, ADV), as well as the large trade associations.

They represented the opinions of a radical “völkisch nationalism”, with dissenting voices, who advocated more moderate positions in favor of a German defensive war without recourse to annexations, being in a clear minority from the beginning.It was, rather, a conflict between moderate and extreme positions calling for a “German peace” (deutscher Frieden), in which even the moderates did not categorically exclude territorial gains.Radical annexationists eventually dominated the public war aims discussion, however, while proponents of a negotiated peace were increasingly put on the defensive.Other neighboring states like the Netherlands, Austria-Hungary, Sweden and Norway were to be affiliated in customs-related matters under the pretense of external equality (äußerliche Gleichberechtigung).The idea of a Central Europe under German hegemony as a bulwark against Great Britain was central to this program.The ADV’s main objective, however, was the eastern expansion of the German Reich, which was to be used to satisfy the “German hunger for territories” through large-scale settlement measures to “make the East German”.Preceding this settlement policy was a broad “ethnic separation” (ethnische Entmischung) of East Central Europe.Even though the native population of occupied Belgium was not to be deported, it was to be used as an inferior workforce.The regions to be conceded by France were to be entirely depopulated and used as a special military zone (Militärstreifen).Encouraged by early military successes, boundless plans for annexations were drafted, which were to become the main focus of public interest and to determine the opinion of large parts of the bourgeois middle classes.Calls for a victorious peace (Siegfrieden) and global dominance of the German Reich, territorial and economic expansion, as well as strategic and military protection (Absicherung) of the German borders enjoyed vast popularity far beyond the lines of the radical nationalist camp.


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