Essay Germany Responsible Ww1

Specific territorial targets had never been the decisive objective en route to war; initially, it seemed paramount to undermine Germany’s enemies politically and economically in order to eliminate them from the race for European hegemony in the long run.This means that long-term objectives were only formulated during the course of the war.After extensive war aims had been formulated in the course of the war fever that gripped large parts of the German public during the first weeks of August, Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg (1856-1921)" id="GND_118510320"Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg (1856-1921) prohibited any further public discussion on the topic on behalf of the neutral countries, as well as the German working classes, in order to prevent any further deterioration of seething internal conflicts.

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Belgium was regarded as another centerpiece of the program and was to decline to a kind of vassal state and to be closely economically affiliated with the German Reich.

Significantly, none of the politically responsible parties ever distanced themselves from the demand for the control of Belgium, just as they seemed unanimous with regard to a more or less direct subjection of Poland.

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.

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.

Territorial claims in both eastern and western territories went hand-in-hand with calls for a large-scale expulsion of those regions’ established residents in order to settle them with German soldiers and farmers and thus exploit them economically.

Similar demands were made by business leaders and politicians like Ruhr valley industrialist August Thyssen (1842-1926) and Center (Zentrum) politician Matthias Erzberger (1875-1921).

During the second half of the war, the shift in power relations within the German Reich in favor of the Supreme Military Command paradoxically led to a gradual “totalizing” (Totalisierung) and dissolution of boundaries with regard to German war aims, even though the prospects for a German victory were becoming slimmer and slimmer after the Battle of the Marne.

Aiming at a purely defensive war in the beginning, the German command lacked a coherent agenda with regard to its war aims during the early days of the war.

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