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Old 02-05-2019, 11:44 PM
 
Location: On the Great South Bay
6,897 posts, read 9,595,157 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
Interesting Tony. However, I can't let Germany off the hook so easily.

Germany made a decision to invade France. I am not aware of any plans by the French general staff to invade Germany. Before Germany could invade France it had to invade Belgium first. I am not aware of Belgium having any guilt in this whole thing. Its geography was unfortunate and it did not stop the Germans from invading and brutally suppressing the Belgian people. I find myself scratching my head a bit when I contemplate the notion that a war in the Balkans resulted in Germany attacking France.

In her book The Guns of August, historian Barbara Tuchman put most of the blame on Germany for the war. Germany was a modern nation. However, democracy did not exist there. Decisions were made by the Kaiser and his general staff. The Kaiser wanted war. He believed naively that Germany could and would win quickly. When the Germany Army failed to march to Paris and the troops settled into the trenches his failure was evident. The general staff through Hindenburg and Ludendorf basically took over the job of running the war and Germany from the Kaiser.
There is no doubt that the Germans made some incredible foolish decisions both before and during the war. From building an unnecessarily huge German Navy which help drive the4 formerly friendly British Empire into the ranks of the French and Russians, the invasion of Belgium and the go for broke for Paris instead of concentrating with the Austrians on the Eastern front, and the 1917 unrestricted submarine warfare which added the Americans (and the Brazilians) to German's already many enemies.

The Germans I believe were also the first ones to use poison gas.

But having said that, it is important to remember that the Germans of the World War 1 era were not the arch villains of the Nazi era.
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Old Yesterday, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
1,606 posts, read 2,592,250 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
Interesting Tony. However, I can't let Germany off the hook so easily.

Germany made a decision to invade France. I am not aware of any plans by the French general staff to invade Germany. Before Germany could invade France it had to invade Belgium first. I am not aware of Belgium having any guilt in this whole thing. Its geography was unfortunate and it did not stop the Germans from invading and brutally suppressing the Belgian people. I find myself scratching my head a bit when I contemplate the notion that a war in the Balkans resulted in Germany attacking France.

In her book The Guns of August, historian Barbara Tuchman put most of the blame on Germany for the war. Germany was a modern nation. However, democracy did not exist there. Decisions were made by the Kaiser and his general staff. The Kaiser wanted war. He believed naively that Germany could and would win quickly. When the Germany Army failed to march to Paris and the troops settled into the trenches his failure was evident. The general staff through Hindenburg and Ludendorf basically took over the job of running the war and Germany from the Kaiser.
The intent of my post was not to absolve Germany of any blame. I was simply pointing out that this was by no means a one-sided affair. When the July Crisis took hold in Europe, the French military were in constant contact with their Russian counterparts to talk strategy. The French ambassador to Russia became an almost permanent fixture at the office of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazanov, with instructions from home to do whatever it took to get Russia to go to war against Germany. And he undertook this task eagerly, urging Russia to stand tough against Austria and Germany, promising that France would immediately spring into action the moment Russia pulled the trigger. What he omitted from this was that France's strategy was not to launch an offensive against Germany should war break out, but instead wait for Germany to attack France first so she could then be blamed for what came after.

With respect to Russia, beyond what I have already stated, there is also this ever ignored fact: when Austria issued the ten point ultimatum to Serbia on July 23 1914, most people believed that no nation, Serbia included, would ever accept the terms of such a document. Yet after internal discussions, the Serbian government decided their best course of action was to give in to all of Austria's demands. But before doing so, they ran it by their great protector, Imperial Russia. The Russians were appalled. Fearing their hoped for war would evaporate, they urged Serbia to agree to all points except one, knowing full well this would be rejected by Austria, and war would be all but guaranteed. With reassurances of assistance in hand, the Serbs dutifully complied.

Another interesting side note which gets even less attention then the first is in regards to German mobilization. One would think that this nation so often portrayed as a reckless, saber rattling state hell bent on plunging the whole of Europe into war would have had its armed forces ready to march against her enemies at a moments notice. Yet, Germany did not undertake mobilization until July 30th, and did so only after receiving irrefutable proof that Russia had been mobilizing in secret for over a week before that.

As far as the British are concerned, they had, without a doubt, the most clueless individual possible, George Buchanan, serving as their ambassador to Russia. While his French counterpart was gleefully sending cables home talking about Russia's war preparations, Buchanan saw nothing but blue skies and rainbows on the horizon. Britain's Foreign Secretary, Edward Grey wasn't much better. When Germany became suspicious that something fishy was up in Russia, the German ambassador went off to see Grey, a logical step given that Britain was allied with Russia. Grey's response; our man in St. Petersburg assures us all is well with the Russians, the French are saying the same, so stop overreacting, and while you're at it, rein in your ally Austria before they start a war, now off you go. When the British finally did realize what was happening, their approach to it all was rather puzzling. They threw out the idea of peace talks, but matters had moved beyond that point already. Then they dangled the carrot of guaranteeing French neutrality if Germany agreed not to attack France. When the Kaiser heard this he was elated, telling his generals to ready the troops to march east against Russia alone. But as quick as the carrot was offered, the British took it away and replaced it with the stick, infuriating the Kaiser and solidifying his belief that war against everyone was the only answer left.

So again, when you consider the actions taken and the resulting reactions of all the main players involved, I just don't see how one nation can be painted as the sole villain in this drama. No one "sleepwalked" their way into this conflict, nor were they blind to what could happen if they remained on the courses they set for themselves. They had all calculated the risks and found the gamble worth taking and millions of people paid the price as a result. And with almost 101 years having passed since the conflict ended, I'd say spreading the blame around a bit more is not only fair but long overdue. But then, that's just my opinion.
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Old Today, 07:22 PM
 
3,912 posts, read 7,807,240 times
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Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
Austria-Hungary was not mid-sized, there were 52.8 million who were living in the empire in 1914. Compare that to 39 million French, 41 million for Germany, 34.7 million in Italy and 46 million in Great Britain. Austria-Hungary was second in population only to Russia which had 166 million.
Not to nitpick, but the population of Germany was 67 million in 1914, not 41. Germany was the 2nd most populous country in Europe behind Russia. Germany’s population growth rate was also the fastest in Europe at the time. The Germans were able to field 50% more troops than the French and fight on two fronts. Hence why the French suffered a lost generation while the Germans did not despite similar casualty rates.

I do agree with your premise though. Austria-Hungary was considered a major power at the time.
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