German/Austrian plans when they won WWI

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Gott
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German/Austrian plans when they won WWI

Post by Gott » 05 Sep 2002 10:44

What was Kaiser's plans on Europe after victory in WWI? I heard he would take the northern tip of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Russian Poland, and the Baltic States for his Kaiserreich.

How about Austria-Hungary? This I heard the Habsburgs will take over Serbia and parts of Russian Ukraine for their Galicia.

Gwynn Compton
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Post by Gwynn Compton » 05 Sep 2002 10:47

Both sound like reasonable plans. I don't picture Kaiser Wilhelm II being quite as nice to the French as the Germans were to the French after the defeat of Napoleon III. If you recall, the Germans were shelling Paris in that war, and yet only took a few border areas (admittadly, they were very valuable border areas) but even so, Germany could have claimed more.

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Gott
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Post by Gott » 05 Sep 2002 10:58

Perhaps he would take more of France. But if I was him, I would only consider it, since I would found it hard to keep these new areas calm. French nationalist and patriots (which there are so many of them), would make violence in the area. Well I could take a bit more of Burgundy (eastern France) for defense in case France invade the Kaiserreich.

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Kurasier
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Post by Kurasier » 05 Sep 2002 11:36

Hi,
the austrian monarchy was always interested in the Balkan (Serbia, etc)
So I'd say, that they would have taken easteurope into their Reich.
Cheers
Chrstoph

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Zachary
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Post by Zachary » 05 Sep 2002 13:18

Was the area the Germans got in Brest-Livotsk part of their "wants in Europe"?
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Zachary

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Post by Gwynn Compton » 06 Sep 2002 00:26

The area certainly featured in Hitler's plans, but I'm not sure if it featured in the Kaiser's plans. By the time of Brest-Livotsk the German's needed a large eastern territory to exploit the resources of though, especially with the economic squeeze she was feeling due to the Allied blockade.

Gwynn

walterkaschner
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Post by walterkaschner » 06 Sep 2002 23:57

From what I have read, the German war aims over the course of WWI varied from time to time in detail, depending upon how the war seemed to be going for them - and for their Austro-Hungarian ally - but their basic thrust remained constant so long as there appeared to be any hope of victory. However, there was never an "official" statement of war aims in any meaningful detail, primarily because Germany's true interests did not coincide with those of her allies: the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria and Turkey. Moreover, there seems to have never been unanimous agreement among the various German authorities and interest groups themselves as to certain important details. For example, early on - before the defeat at the Marne - the Kaiser insisted that Germany should annex extensive areas in France and Belgium, which should then be cleared of its present population and resettled by deserving German non-commissioned officers and men!! (Sound somewhat familiar to you students of Hitler's war aims?) Although Bethmann-Hollweg, the German Chancellor purported to find the idea tempting and worthy of further consideration, he concluded that practical difficulties argued against it.

Nonetheless, despite varying views on details, the best authority of whom I am aware on the subject believes that in broad brush Germany's war aims were essentially constant throughout WWI until defeat was virtually assured, and had this to say:
A survey of Germany's war aims at the beginning and in the middle of 1918, when German self-confidence was at its peak in the expectation of early victory, discloses a picture of an imperium of grandiose dimensions. In the west: Belgium, Luxemburg, Longwy-Briey [the French Lorraine ore fields] linked with Germany on such terms as to make possible the adherence of France and Holland and to isolate Britain and force her to recognize Germany's position; in the east: Courland, Livonia [the two of which comprised much of modern Latvia], Estonia and Lithuania, from Reval to Riga and Vilno, the Polish Frontier Strip and Rump Poland all closely fettered to Germany; in the south-east: Austria-Hungary clamped into Germany as a cornerstone, then Rumania and Bulgaria, and then beyond them the Ottoman Empire as an object of Germany's Asiatic policy. Command of the eastern Mediterranean was to compel the adherence of Greece and secure a route through the Suez, while the domination of the Black Sea guaranteed the economic mastery of the Ukraine, the Crimea and Georgia, and the command of the Baltic compelled Finland and Sweden, with their riches, to take the German side. On top of all this was the position of at least economic hegemony in Rump Russia.

"The counterpart overseas of this European extended basis - Mittleeuropa surrounded by a ring of vassal states - was to be the central African colonial empire safeguarded by naval bases and linked with the Near East through the Sudan and Suez. With this economic and political power in Africa, reinforced by the command of the strategic and technical key-points on the route to South America to expand and consolidate the strong economic interests already established there before the war, Germany was to make herself a colonial and economic power of world status. Yet concentration on the African empire implied no withdrawal from the eastern hemisphere. Germany was maintaining her interests in Samoa and New Guinea and trying to initiate in China a more elastic policy, confined purely to the safeguarding of her economic interests. Above all, she hoped that by ceding Kiaochow to Japan she would be able to renew her old connections with that country against both Russia and the Anglo-Saxon powers.

"Germany's political and economic imperium would have represented a concentration of force far surpassing Bismarck's empire in resources and human material. The old industrial areas of the Ruhr and Luxemburg, the Saar, German Lorraine, Saxony and Upper Silesia were to be reinforced by French Lorraine, Belgium, Poland and Bohemia. For her supply of ore, besides her own production and the assured imports from sweden, she could have drawn on the ores of Austria, Poland, Longwy-Briey, the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Turkey and Katanga. To the oil of Galicia was added that of Rumania, the Caucasus and Mesopotamia, to her own agricultural production that of the Balkans and the north east, to her previous imports from her old colonies in Africa the abundant produce of central Africa; markets previously contested would be relpaced by near-monopoly in Georgia, Turkey, Russia, the Ukraine, the Balkans, the north-east, the north and the west. The weight of the German Reich in matters of commercial policy would have unquestionably put Germany in an impregnable position of world economic power. The economic agreements were, moreover, to be safeguarded by military treaties.

"Military conventions with Finland, the Baltic States, Lithuania, Poland, the Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Rumania and Austria-Hungary, and in a negative sense also with Belgium, had been planned and most of them at least initialled. Through these economic, political and military links Germany would have created an economic bloc which would have put her on a level with the three world powers of America, Britain and - if she could still be counted - Russia, and have given her a rank far above that of any European power of the old days."
Fritz Fischer, "Germany's Aims in the First World War", W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1967 at 607-8. (NB. This is a translation of the 3rd German edition of Fischer's "Griff nach der Weltmacht", Droste Verlag und Druckerei, reduced in length by about 1/3 by the author himself "in order to make it easier for an English speaking audience." I do not have access to the German edition.) Fischer was Professor of History at the University of Hamburg for many years and in 1965 a member of the School of Historical Studies at Princeton.

For reasons I believe obvious, Fischer's book created a veritable storm of controversy when it was first published and its findings still denigrated by many, most of whom seem to be leaning to the far right of center in Germany and elsewhere. Nonetheless, although minor details have been chipped away at, IMHO its basic thrust has in no way been refuted. His evidence is based almost entirely on original sources and I recommend it highly to anyone truly interested in (and with the significant patience required to follow) the details of German thinking on the aims of victory during the four years of WWI, and the light it throws on subsequent German history.

Hope the above, although tedious, is of some interest. Regards, Kaschner

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Gott
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Post by Gott » 07 Sep 2002 15:43

I have heard that the main reason of why German joined the war the Triple Entente was to take over as many as possible, British and French colonies aboard. I guess I wouldn't mind Hong Kong becoming a German colony :wink: .

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