German Army prior to WWI defeat a possibility?

Discussions on all aspects of Imperial Germany not covered in the other sections.
hselassi
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German Army prior to WWI defeat a possibility?

Post by hselassi » 11 Jul 2021 00:27

I was reading about the German Army in the troubled early Weimar era (1919-23) and it struck me how quickly a German Army was created and that there was no active secessionist movement from the earlier armies (not even Bavaria - I know about 1923, but they never seceded, they were planning to march on Berlin).
Prior to 1919 the Combined Army included two "independent" armies (Prus & Bav) each with its own General Staff with three ranklists (Prus, Bav, & Sax) under four War Ministries (Prus, Bav, Sax, & Wuert). Now all of this was tied up by treaties and conventions, so de facto, there was a "German" Army in 1914 and all the various organizations did not cause any performance issues during the war.
My question is, between 1871 and 1918, was there ever an attempt to create a de jure "German" Army (i.e 1 army, 1 gen staff, 1 ranklist, & 1 MoW)? It seems odd to keep all that official separation when there was always only one German Navy, so the idea and practice of a national force existed.

Regards,
/s/ Harry

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Hoplophile
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Re: German Army prior to WWI defeat a possibility?

Post by Hoplophile » 22 Sep 2021 17:52

A single Imperial Navy made obvious sense. After all, neither Bavaria, nor Saxony, nor Württemberg had seacoasts, let alone seafaring traditions.

Unifying the armies, however, would have shifted influence over military forces from the governments of the four kingdoms to the Reichstag.

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Sheldrake
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Re: German Army prior to WWI defeat a possibility?

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Sep 2021 01:47

hselassi wrote:
11 Jul 2021 00:27
I was reading about the German Army in the troubled early Weimar era (1919-23) and it struck me how quickly a German Army was created and that there was no active secessionist movement from the earlier armies (not even Bavaria - I know about 1923, but they never seceded, they were planning to march on Berlin).
Prior to 1919 the Combined Army included two "independent" armies (Prus & Bav) each with its own General Staff with three ranklists (Prus, Bav, & Sax) under four War Ministries (Prus, Bav, Sax, & Wuert). Now all of this was tied up by treaties and conventions, so de facto, there was a "German" Army in 1914 and all the various organizations did not cause any performance issues during the war.
My question is, between 1871 and 1918, was there ever an attempt to create a de jure "German" Army (i.e 1 army, 1 gen staff, 1 ranklist, & 1 MoW)? It seems odd to keep all that official separation when there was always only one German Navy, so the idea and practice of a national force existed.

Regards,
/s/ Harry
Its complicated, but there was not single German Army, but a coalition of the armies of several states. The unification of Germany under Prussian rule involved the voluntary subservience of sovereign Kingdoms and principalities under Imperial rule. (Bavaria, Wuttemburg, Saxony and Baden) Imperial Germany was not an authoritarian state. As part of the deal these states were allowed to maintain their own armies, which would be directed in time of war by the Imperial Commander and the Prussian Great General Staff. Bavaria even negotiated the right to declare war independently of the German empire, and made a separate declaration of war in 1914.
Politically, the armies belonged to the agrarian upper classes of the states. As in many empires/unions there was a tension between the central, imperial politicians and those of the states. You had to be a von to be an officer.

The navy was supported and championed by the middle classes. In the middle of the C19th at Bismarck's instigation IRRC Prussia offered its navy to all Germany. The Imperial German Navy was an imperial rather than Prussian, Bavarian or Saxon institution. Those Germans who wanted a united unified Germany tended to support the navy and colonial expansion as German rather than state projects. These tended to be the middle classes. Some of the policies of Imperial Germany such as competing for colonies and naval expansion with then United Kingdom look self destructive. However, they start to make sense as internal political issues.

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Glenn2438
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Re: German Army prior to WWI defeat a possibility?

Post by Glenn2438 » 24 Sep 2021 07:38

Good morning Shelldrake,
You had to be a von to be an officer.
I am a little bit wary of that statement.

That may have been closer to the situation during the time of Friedrich der Große, but a glance at any edition of the Prussian army list from 1817 onward would demonstrate that this was not the case and ever decreasingly so by 1914.

Regards
Glenn

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Sheldrake
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Re: German Army prior to WWI defeat a possibility?

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Sep 2021 09:49

Glenn2438 wrote:
24 Sep 2021 07:38
Good morning Shelldrake,
You had to be a von to be an officer.
I am a little bit wary of that statement.

That may have been closer to the situation during the time of Friedrich der Große, but a glance at any edition of the Prussian army list from 1817 onward would demonstrate that this was not the case and ever decreasingly so by 1914.

Regards
Glenn
Agreed, that is an exaggeration. However the officers of each of the German states formed a social exclusive caste in peacetime, with conservative values supporting the rulers of that state. In war time the social standards were relaxed, thus the Jewish banker Herbert Sulzbach , who served as an enmlisted man from 1914-1916 was commissioned.

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