schulze.ch9.WWI

schulze.ch9.WWI - Germany A New History Hagen Schulze...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–13. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
Image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
Image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 6
Image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 8
Image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 10
Image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 12
Image of page 13
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Germany: A New History Hagen Schulze Tronsiofed by Deborah Lucas Schneider H O rva rd Cambridge, Massachusetts University London, England Press [‘35 % (1914—1923) Winter in Wartime (Hans Boluschek, lQl7] This painting shows the home front in the "ruta- baga winter" ol lQl 7. At the top oi the picture is a coking plant, below it a roilroad siding and shabby garden allotments, with huts llying the flags ol the empire and the Prussion prov ince ol Saxony. At the bottom we see a family that has just buried a relative killed in the war‘, the son's hat identities him as a crew member The Great War and Its Aftermath “I do not recognize parties any longer, I recognize only Germans,” proclaimed William II in the opening session of the Reichstag on August 4, 1914. In a way the emperor’s statement helps to explain the general public’s jubilation at the outbreak of the First World War in Germany, a reaction that is difficult to comprehend to— day. Celebrated in the propaganda output as the “spirit of 1914,” it was not unlike the demonstrations of mass enthusiasm in London, Paris, and St. Petersburg. 111 the German political tradition, parties were symbols of narrow special interests, political infighting, and threats to national unity. Now, with the outbreak of hostilities, the parties lined up behind the government, and even the great majority of Social Democrats voted for the loans that were needed to fight the War, a war everyone believed would be over within a matter of weeks. And indeed it had to be over quickly: Schlieffen’s plan, the basis of the ol the cruiser Emden, which made a hazardous voyage through the South Pacilic ot the start of the war. But by now the enthusiasm tor the war is long gone, and the winter chill symbolizes the military situation. In the winter oi l9l7 alone 200,000 Germon civilians died of hun~ ger, almost hall the number of soldiers killed at the front in the same period (020,000). 19] general staff ’5 strategy, could succeed only if the Germans won deCi- 1.. other in proposing war aims that bordered on megalomania, sup- sive victories soon. That the country’s material resources were in— ' ported by the National Federation of German Industry and military sufficient for a protracted war on two fronts was clear even to mem- leaders who dreamed of a German empire stretching from Calais to hers of the cabinet without degrees in economics. St. Petersburg. Writers and intellectuals—including later supporters .' . armies through Belgium and France was stopped at the Marne, almost _ But the Schlieffen plan failed to work. The advance of the German '. of democracy like Thomas Mann and Alfred Kerr—also came to worship at the shrine ofbattle, praising the war as the flames of purga- within sight of Paris, principally because the right wing on the west: tory that would cleanse the nation; their effusions rounded off the ern front was too weak. Ignoring Schlieffen's warnings, his successor, ‘ _- ‘ public’s impression that enthusiasm for the war was universal. But the reality of life in Germany was far removed from such left wing in Alsace, to prevent the French from breaking through into -. flights of fancy. Food shortages occurred everywhere, despite ever southern Germany. By October 1914 the troops in the west had 211— ‘ ' stricter rationing and attempts to place production of at least basic ready had to dig themselves in, and despite numerous offensives 'r commodities under government control. In the words of one con- launched by both sides with horrendous casualties, the front lines : - temporary critic, “As far as the management of food supplies was were still in essentially the same place in 1918. concerned, the war was already lost by the beginning of the third ' year.” Armament workers in Berlin and Leipzig organized labor stop— . pages in April 1917 in protest against hunger, and in addition to de— I mands for improved working conditions, calls began to be heard for . negotiating a swift peace. Tensions mounted within the army and navy ' as well. The temporary truce, agreed to by the parties and interest groups, limited stretches of the front. Aided by the Russian Revolution of . I to refrain from internal social and political agitation for the duration 1917 and the complete demoralization of the Russian forces, German - -' of the war began to crumble. In july 1917 the Reichstag was supposed troops succeeded in occupying the Baltic countries, the Ukraine, and ' to grant further war loans. Up to that time all of the parties, including southern Russia up to the Caucasus by 1918. a large majority of the SPD, had regarded this as their patriotic duty, As the war dragged on into the unforeseeable future, the original ' in the conviction that Germany was waging a purely defensive war. enthusiasm quickly faded, although the mood of the educated profes-- ' The vehement debate over expansionist war goals had thoroughly de— sional class remained fervent. In countless sermons and lectures, stroyed this illusion, however, and the food supply appeared as pre— Protestant pastors and professors depicted the enemy as the embodi— ' ment of Satan, comparing the conflagration now consuming the Furthermore, the new Russian government brought to power by world with the Last Judgment and urging the German people to see the February revolution had come up with a promising formula for themselves as the agents of God’s will. The nationalistic mass organi— ending the war: “A peace without annexations or reparations.” And so zations experienced their greatest hour; the Pan—German League, the the leaders of three delegations in the Reichstag, the SPD, the Center Fatherland Party, and similarly vocal groups competed with one an- Party, and the left—liberal Progressive People’s Party, joined together 192 The Great War and Its Aftermath The Great War and Its Aftermath I93 I P t Committee 1nd planned a step no German venerated almost as twin St, Georges who had slain the dragon. to form an nter— ar y t . t since the Prussian constitutional cri- I Streets and squares were renamed after Hindenburg; every patriotic parliament had dared to attemp I shopkeeper hung a picture of him in the window or behind the coun- ter, and public opinion ranked him higher than the emperor. The ap— pointment of Hindenburg to head the Army High Command on August 29, 1916, was like an unofficial plebiscite and gave the mili— tary leadership a legitimacy in the people 8 eyes that the Reichstag, elected in 1912, no longer possessed sis of 1862, namely to exert pressure on the government by threaten— ing to withhold support for a major bill, in this case approval of the war loans. The National Liberal Party then joined the effort as well, and on july 17 1917 the new majority in the Reichstag declared itsell in favor J , ) - l r of a “negotiated peace . . . without forced annexation of new territo- ’ ” W‘th this step the Reichstag made itself into an independent po- 'I It was not Hindenburg who gave the High Command its profile, ries. 1 however, but his deputy, First Quartermaster—General Erich Luden— ‘dorff. He was the first general from an untitled family in Prussian- litical force, under the leadership of the same parties that would later . form the backbone of the Weimar Republic. The first German de— . t after it. -__ erman militar history to achieve such a hi h osition and his er— mocracy was born in the middle of the Great War, no y g P , P realit The at - ective encom assed more than urel militar tactics. Politics was Yet for the time being democracy was far from a y. . _ r P P y y f ”Ed to im ress '-" wa 5 war, Ludendorff wrote later, turnin the ideas of Clausewitz tempt of the parliamentary representatives to rebel a p . . y g gUVC] II “(I Illllltal y leadel S, alld fizzled. [he mllltaly Sltuatlon I'Slde down, and Peace an 111118101] of ”V I: - l l . . . . ea Inn] € (lVlllaIlS In hls ment 3. 11160“ in St- Peters]. 2-1nion this meant that the military and political leadership of a coun— te- although the outbreak of revo 1 grew more acu , b 11 d Petrograd caused large stretches of the Russi I had to be one and the same. Only a military leader was capable of urg, now ca e , f ll e the United States had entered war against Germany ganizing a country to make it able to conduct total war, which re- rent to co aps , . _ April 2 1917 Large contingents of fresh, well~rested America' ' ed total mObilization_ on , . b ' ‘ng at the western front in rapid succession, whils. " The ideas that General Ludendorff, the man of middle—class ori— troops egan arr1v1 th G f ontinued to sustain huge losses of both men an ' s, began to convert into reality at the end of 1916 emanated from e erman orces c t ‘ 1 without the prospect of significant replacements. Units a' dark, long-repressed underside of bourgeois thinking: the un— ma er1e , ' hing of war from its traditional restraints, the attitude of “You are ' g, the people are everything” that provides a foundation for to— . . - rs Within 'arian dictatorshi . It was no accident that later both Lenin and ders noted in despair, “Whole d1v1sions are burned to c1nde _ P ' d Ludendorff’s mana ement of the wartime econom in lacements that do not come. er v1ewe g y few hours, and a cry goes up for rep pray to God this may be the last great butchery of the Great War; thi ' ‘ 17~1 918 as a model of organization. ' i, . -BUt it was to no avail. The situation continued to deteriorate and morning thousands more went to their deaths. , I thi ‘t tion people placed their hopes not in the delegates o : - h social and political conflict grew sharper. The Bolshevists’ Octo— n s 51 ua th R h b t in the two military commanders Paul von Hinden . r revolution had supplied the protest movements arising out of e eic stag u b d E ' h Ludendorff No other generals and certainly no poli;. .l'the food shortages with political concepts, and now a revolutionary urg an ric . , . . - ' ‘ vicv- . mood be an to s read amon workers in the armaments industr ticians, even approached these two men in P0PIllar 1t)" After the“ . g P g y’ th R ssian armies in East Prussia in 1914 they were*_ _ among army draftees,and in the navy. The German troops at the front tory over e u . _ ‘ h The Great War and Its Aftermath 195 194 The Great War and Its Afteimot 196 The Great War and Its Aftermath AUQUS' 1, 1914, in Berlin were exhausted; the great German {Arthur Kampl, l9l4) On july 3i, l9l4, Russia had mobilized it self against Germany and Austria. The Ger? 3 Costly miscalculation’ and the man government responded by proclaiming ' . . a state of "imminent danger of war," and on Alhed counter—offenswe ll'l AugUSt offensive in March 1918 proved the afternoon of August l the deadline in a German ultimatum ron out. Germany found itself at war with Russia. The pointer shows a man lines. Germany’s allies AUS- crowd of people gathered outside the royal palace in Berlin, waiting for the deadline to ripped gaping holes in the Ger— tria—Hungary and Turkey sent out expire and in the meantime listening to o peace feelers, and On September speaker. Here we see no exaggerated patri- . . otism, nothing of the vaunted “spirit of 28, 1918, BUIgarla caPltUIated' l9l 4." The mood is quiet, even anxious. The following day Ludendorff suf— fered a nervous collapse. Fearing a renewed and decisive Allied break— through on the western front, he called for an immediate truce. Ludendorff’s request was only reasonable, and it was also reason— able that he insisted a new government be formed that would include the members of the Inter—Party Committee, since the Allies would consider only a government based on a parliamentary majority as ca— pable of guaranteeing a reasonable peace agreement in the future. All the same, the timing and the consequences of these developments were to prove disastrous for several reasons. First of all, it was a catas— trophe that the first German democracy emerged as the product not of an elected parliament and strong political parties but rather of a general staff at its wits’ end. Second, the Weimar democracy came into being at the worst possible moment, in the hour of defeat, a cir— cumstance that would always dog its existence. And finally, it was a calamity that truce negotiations would now be conducted by civil— ian politicians and not those in fact responsible for the outcome of the war, the generals of the High Command. By coupling his calls for a truce and parliamentary government, Ludendorff managed to shift the blame onto a convenient scapegoat. Here were the beginnings of the legend of the Dolchsrojfi, the supposed “stab in the back,” a myth that would poison political debate throughout the Weimar Re— public. To transform the country from an authoritarian, almost absolutist The Great War and Its Aftermath l97 ..._.. state into a parliamentary democracy, only a few sentences in Bis; marck’s constitution needed to be changed. In the future, the chanv cellor would have to act with the support of the Reichstag and would be responsible for policy; his signature was required on officers’ and civil servants’ commissions, and the Reichstag would vote on all decla- rations of war and peace treaties. That was sufficient to bring about revolutionary changes in the German mode of government. The German people did not grasp the sweeping nature of the changes. What they cared about now was not an alteration here and ' there in the text of the constitution but how progress toward peace _. was proceeding. Events swept forward with irresistible force. On Oc- .. tober 29, 1918, sailors of the fleet in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven muti— . nied and formed revolutionary councils; the revolt spread in waves, . first to army garrisons along the coast, then inland. The astounding aspect of all this was not the revolution itself, which represented little _. _ ii i’ieuetnnteific German Posters from the First World War: Buy War Bonds! The Times Are Hard but Victory Certain [fritz Erler, 1916; Bruno Paul, lQl7) more than a cry of “Count me out!” from an utterly exhausted popu» lation, but the complete passivity with which the powers that had ruled hitherto accepted it. Houses that had reigned for centuries ab— dicated their rights without a murmur, nor did a single lieutenant of ln order not to jeopardize domestic stability, the personified the guarantee of victory and re— German Empire financed the war effort not deemability of the war bonds. Fritz Erler's through taxes, which would have put it on a drawing of the soldier at the front would be imi' sound basis, but through war bands promising tated thousands af times: His steel helmet gas 5 percent interest. The plan was to let Ger- mask, and the barbed wire behind him symbol- many’s defeated enemies cover them. From ize the horrendous war in the trenches The de» 1916 on the posters appealing to citizens to piction of the soldier’s eyes—fixed on a distant buy the bonds carried martial images. ln the obiect and thrown into shadow by his hel' ’ poster on the right, the war hero and Chief of met—made his gaze impersonal and elevated the Army High Command Paul von Hindenburg his portrait to an icon af war. the royal guards leap into the breach to defend them. The public re- sponded with virtual indifference to the abdication of William 11, who went into exile in Holland on November 9, 1918; people had enough 011 their hands trying to deal with the catastrophe of defeat and their fears that they were in for a repeat of the Russian Revolution and its atrocities. Two days later Matthias Erzberger, still in office as a state secretary of the imperial government and a Center Party delegate to the Reichstag, signed the armistice in a railroad car sitting in a forest cracy, there were the moderate forces of the Reichsrag majo ‘t f r1 y 0 near Compiegne. The First World War was over; it had cost the lives 1917——Social Democrats Liberals and the Center Party h f ’ r ”—W 0 a— of 10 million people, among them 2 million Germans. But the war vored the transformation of the authoritarian monarchy into a mod continued in Germany, now in the form of civil war. ern democracy that would retain the basic prewar economic and In the second week of November, after Germany’s collapse, the social structures; in a sense their program was thus to carry to com pletion the Revolution of 1848. These forces of a black~red-gold situation was volatile, with three different factions vying for power. Along with the remnants of the old state, the army and the bureau— revolution—the colors of the mid—nineteenth century t‘ 1 ~ na iona — 198 The Great War and Its Aftermath The Great War and Its Aftermath 199 The Council of People’s Representatives (postcard, Berlin, 191 8) The revolutionary government formed on No vember 10, TOT 8, called itself the Council of People's Representatives Although two groups of Social Democrats—the "majority" and the "independents"—were given equal representa- tion with three members each, the "maiority" proved stronger from the start. The two chair- men of the Maiority Social Democratic Party, Friedrich Ebert and Philipp Scheidemann, and Otto Landsberg, a lawyer located further to the right along the party spectrum, were tough and experienced political tocticians. The Inde- pendent Social Democrats—the upright and idealistic party chairman Hugo House, the col orless functionary Wilhelm Dittmann, and the representative of the revolutionary ombudsmen in the factories, Emil Barth—were seldom able to hold their own against their colleagues, espe cially since Barth frequently voted against House and Dittmann. In theory the executive council of the workers' and soldiers' revolution- ary councils was supposed to control the COUr‘. cil of People's Representatives, but in fact this never happened. ists—were opposed by the adherents of a Red revolution, a heteroge- neous collection of leftist groups, chief among them the Spartacus League of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, who were inspired by the Russian Revolution and favored a government based on work— ers’ councils. They rejected parliamentary rule on principle and wished to see a socialist government established that would over— throw the existing economic and social order alike. The outcome of this power struggle was essentially decided in the first few days of the revolution, in favor of the moderate camp. The official government was the revolutionary Council of People’s Repre‘ sentatives, composed of Social Democrats and the more left- 200 The Great War and lts Aftermath 43-: min: m: 3,3.- imal' J I - u u t m u; ,,' L‘ure '. l'l"‘-"‘1“1'51i"2 ' " J- :7 1. Protect the Homeland! [poster for the volunteer Freikorps, lucian Bernhard, l9 l 9) late in lQl 8 volunteer units known as Freik- orps were formed, cansisting of soldiers who had served at the front, with a high percent age of officers omong them. These units played a central role in the civil war that en sued, as well as in the lighting along the eastern border against the Poles, and against the Russians in the Baltic region. They proved to be the only troops that could be depended upon, in contrast to the old regular army units and the hastily assembled republican units. The men of the Freikorps were desperadoes, determined lighters who feared only one thing: the idea of returning ta civilian life. This attitude hardly qualified them as obedient servants of a democratic government, as became evident by the time of the Kapp putsch at the latest. wing Independent Social Demo— crats (USPD), under the leader- ship of Friedrich Ebert and Hugo Haase. On November 9, 1918, Prince Max of Baden, the last im- perial chancellor, had formally turned his office over to Ebert, leader of the SPD, although the constitutionality of his action was somewhat questionable. The civil service therefore placed itself at Ebert’s disposal, and the military High Command came to a mutual agreement with t...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern