The guns of August: the reason for WWI

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The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:32 pm

The assasination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th, 1914 is the official "reason" for the starting of World War I. After that the story is known: "evil" Austro Hungary sent an ultimatum to Serbia, which reject it; Russia supported Serbia; "evil" Germany supported Austro Hungary; France supported Russia and England supported Belgium. Basically it was all Kaiser Willy's fault and Germany to blame.

Of course we, in this forum, know that is not so. But how much was Germany doing here?

After reading John Mosier's book we learned that it was the Germans that won the battles and the US those that won the war in 1918. It's all down to the fighting. But what about this most important issue of the starting of the war itself? Since I was a kid and having learned all this issue of Franz Ferdinand always escaped to me how it was that the Germans were the bad guys here, how it was that they were the agressors? In a simplistic way it was all down to Princip and his fellow conspirators: they were murderers, terrorists that were aided by a Serbian secret agency in charge of desestabilization of the Austrian monarchy. It was Serbia's fault!

But, obviously it's more complex.

A book from Dutch historian J.H.J Andriessen these issues are brought again in a simple but contundent writing. The guilt was, basically, French and then aided by Russian and English geo political needs.

The main reason, the incredible kicking the french received in 1870-71 from the Prussians, kept the french politicians and military looking for a sick revenge since 1880: the aim was to recover Alsace-Loraine.

Second reason, the Russians needed the Dardanelles free pass for their Black Sea Fleet and the French would provide the help to achieve that. It is obvious that the influence at the Balkans was also a Russian aim that needed some help from the treachorous french.

Third reason, the British didn't like a bit the German industrial might, their growing comercial expansion and the naval race.

Since 1881 the French were building up their position to face Germany, which they knew they cannot face alone, by themselves. They needed numerical superiority to fight and defeat the Germans. However they never lost the oportunity to gauge the international scene in order to be provocative and start an incident as that of the 30,000 troops sent on April 28th, 1881 to Tangier on the pretext of supporting the Turkish governor to put down a rebellion on it's borders... ot the Moroccan crisis of 1905.

However more important issues were arising, and in this case it was England the one that's being affected. From 1887 and 1912 the German imports grew 244% and their exports grew 215%. The German exports grow at a higher pace than those of the US (173%), Britain (113%) and obvioulsy France (just 98%). Germany became the greatest producer of coal, iron, steel and chemicals. British commerce was flooded by German goods of much better quality than those localy produced, specially electrical engineering, textiles and shipbuilding. But it was the German direction of building their own fleet that put the British on alert.

From the 17th century the British were building and nursing their own expansion, becoming the world superpower. The British policy, in the late XIX Century and early XXth, was to maintain a balance of power in the world. As soon as any nation threatened to become too strong, the British allied themselves with that nation's enemies so that a double strangehold was applied.

In this troublesome scenario there is no common mention of the following:

1. Serbia helped terrorist Princip to assasinate archduke Franz Ferdinand
2. Austro Hungary were the victims, the Serbians were the agressors.
3. France, in his revenge looking policy, signed secret military conventions with the russians since 1894! This, at the least, reveals that the agressive intentions were those of France since late XIX Century, not Germany! In this military treaty the French seeked to have Russian on their side when they started a conflict to regain Alsace-Loraine whilst giving the help the Russians need to breakthrough the Dardaneles.
4. After the death of Queen Victoria and the 1905 comming of the Liberals to power, the new Foreign Secretary Edward Grey the British scenario turned completely anti German. Grey pushed for an "entente cordiale" of England and France together facing Germany. It is very curious and interesting that the general public (the people) and the Parliament were not of the view of Grey and, becuase of that, were kept ignorant of the treaties and pacts that Grey was performing with the Russians and the French.
5. The British, in the person of General Grierson, attempted "non legal" discussions with the Belgians to accept another military pact against an eventual conflict with Germany.

All that was prior or in 1905, some 9 years prior to the war. It were the "allies" those seeking war and revenge, not the Germans. The Germans had a completely public and lawful mutual defense pact with the Austro Hungarians and one with a weak (and wicked) Italy that would collpase on the eve of WWI. It were the allies that, since 1881, were trying to eliminate the German influence in Europe.

Those plans included, incredibly, a French plan to invade Belgium in order to threat Germany from their flank. The plan was drafted by 1906, 8 years prior to the war, demostrates that the allies were looking for a an advantageous fight against the Germans since long before 1914. In 1911, three years prior to the war, the British already had a plan to land four divisions in Belgium. The important issue here is that the Belgians did not know about this and that England and France were looking to this deployment without any Belgium permision: in other words they plan from 9 years prior to 1914 to commit the "heinous crime" they accused the Germans to do on 1914.

If France and Russia signed a pact against Germany since 1905 then England did with Russia the same on August 31, 1907. The alliance net was set to trap Germany from two fronts and a naval blockade.

Even the naval disarmament conference in La Hague, sponsored by the British, was just an inmoral mascarade: the British offered to scrap an important quantity of ships in order to achieve a "balance" to the German construction program. Of course the British had a great number of ships that were obsolete with the outcome of the Dreadnought and were losing nothing with this "self sacrifice" measure. When this British iniciative failed the Admiralty cried "wolf" stating to the British people and Parliament that the German Navy requested and were given funds for twenty one dreadnought battleships and would have them operational by 1912. Of course, by 1912 the Germans had what they wanted from day one: twelve dreadnoughts. When this was evident the British public opinion and the Parliament questioned the anti German policies of Edward Grey. The deceiving Grey sent Minister of War Haldane to Berlin in the hope that the latter will fail in it's diplomatic journey, however Haldane's visit was succesfull: the Germans wanted peace and worked out several practical solutions. Haldane reported to Grey who did everything in it's power to put obstacles, put new demands and delays.

And to all that Russia was helping Serbia and their "Black Hand" (Ujedindenje Ili Smrt) to achive the Greater Serbia (sounds a lot like Milosevic which was opposed by the NATO leaded by the US). This agency was headed by terrorist leader colonel Dimitrijevic. By 1908 this operative was full deployed inside Autro Hungarian territory.

Also there was an international intrigue against the Austro Hungarians of Italians wanting parts of their territory, the russians wanting to influence Constantinople and the Serbian terrorist acts to achieve a greater Serbia.

And in the middle of this came the assasination of archduke Francis Ferdinand, who's father, ironically, wanted peace and refrained to mobilize to attack Serbia once his son was slain. If Austro Hungary had attacked upon the real hedious crime, no body would have contested it's right to do so. However the Austrian Emperor, the Hungarian Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister decided to do the "civilized" thing and work out diplomatic solutions until all those were expent. What an irony.

Now. The funny thing. According to common wisdmon and official history Germany was the aggresor. This falls apart when we see who mobilized first: Russia, on July 25th 1914 took the decision in order to support terrorist state Serbia. They started mobilization the same day Austro Hungary started their own against Serbia! The same day, for God's sake! The General moobilization order came on July 30th.

French mobilization came on July 31st, however when Poincare and his acolites came to France from a visit to Russia (curious, isn't it?) on July 29th all furlongs to officers had a week of being canceled.

So, in summary, the despictable assasination of Franz Ferdinand was only the spark of an international intrigue leaded by France and so helped by Russia and Edward Grey to take out a prosperous industrial nation, Germany, from the spectre of Europe. Germany was a danger to their wealth and dominion. The perfect target has been the image of a not very bright Kaiser and the militaristic appereance of the German state, a state that gave rights to their workers in the form of a Social Security policy long before that was even a notion in the "democratic" allies.

It was, then, France, Russian and England those that started WWI. When Germany was defeated the blame was put on her shoulders, simply as that.

Regards.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Byron Angel

Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby Byron Angel » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:48 am

..... If I recall correctly, in an effort to halt the cascade effect of inter-locking treaties, Germany postponed its own mobilization for forty-eight hours and asked Russia to re-consider and halt its mobilization. Russia declined to do so.

Another interesting book on this subject is "The Pity of War" by Niall Ferguson. Highly recommended.


Byron

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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:51 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:.... France supported Russia and England supported Belgium. Basically it was all Kaiser Willy's fault and Germany to blame.

Regards.


Excuse me, Britain supported Belguim. That's not just England but also Wales, Scotland and (at that time) the whole of the island of Ireland, together with the rest of the British Empire.
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:58 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
After reading John Mosier's book we learned that it was the Germans that won the battles and the US those that won the war in 1918. It's all down to the fighting.

Regards.


I haven't seen this book, so I can't comment on it. But it is clear from the events in the summer of 1918 onwards that Germany was defeated in the fighting, primarily due to British forces on the western front, with limited combat support from the Americans and the French unable to contribute much as their energy and manpower were exhausted. And it was also British seapower that blockaded Germany into starvation and near revolution that toppled the Kaiser. Not much contributed by the US....
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:09 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
Third reason, the British didn't like a bit the German industrial might, their growing comercial expansion and the naval race.



Wrong.

British foreign policy was to stop any one country on continental Europe achieving total domination of the continent. That applied equally to France, Germany and Russia. The British guarantee to Belguim was to stop that country being annexed by the French, at the time the guarantee was made Germany did not exist as a nation state.

Yes, there was concern over the size of the German Navy and the degree of commercial rivalry and protectionism coming from Germany. But at the same time Britain did have good relations with Germany and was Germany's biggest trading partner. Both countries benefitted from that relationship.
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:17 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
1. Serbia helped terrorist Princip to assasinate archduke Franz Ferdinand
2. Austro Hungary were the victims, the Serbians were the agressors.



There is no evidence that the Serbian government was involved. The murder was commited by a terrorist group that called itself the ''Black Hand.'' It was no more representative of Serbia than the IRA represented Ireland.

There was no ''aggression'' from Serbia. In fact Austria-Hungary was more the aggressor, as shown in its annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1907, which directly threatened Serbia.
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:30 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
So, in summary, the despictable assasination of Franz Ferdinand was only the spark of an international intrigue leaded by France and so helped by Russia and Edward Grey to take out a prosperous industrial nation, Germany, from the spectre of Europe. Germany was a danger to their wealth and dominion. The perfect target has been the image of a not very bright Kaiser and the militaristic appereance of the German state, a state that gave rights to their workers in the form of a Social Security policy long before that was even a notion in the "democratic" allies.

It was, then, France, Russian and England those that started WWI. When Germany was defeated the blame was put on her shoulders, simply as that.

Regards.


This is a complete load of rubbish. This long and rambling discourse offers a complete perversion and twisting of the facts that I would expect from Pravda or Izvestia, or even Mein Kampf.

Nowhere in this piece of propaganda is the Schlieffen Plan mentioned. Neither is the fact that Franz Josef only approved the ultimatum to Serbia after receiving the assurance of German military support from Wilhelm ii.
It was Germany that declared war on Russia, then on France two days later specifically to implement the Schlieffen Plan, and invaded Belguim. The only concession the Germans made was not to invade Holland as well, which the original version of the Schlieffen Plan required.
But don't let a few inconvenient facts get in the way of a good rant.
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:11 pm

RF:

Excuse me, Britain supported Belguim. That's not just England but also Wales, Scotland and (at that time) the whole of the island of Ireland, together with the rest of the British Empire.


I stand corrected: the British Empire is the correct concept and terminology.


But it is clear from the events in the summer of 1918 onwards that Germany was defeated in the fighting, primarily due to British forces on the western front, with limited combat support from the Americans and the French unable to contribute much as their energy and manpower were exhausted. And it was also British seapower that blockaded Germany into starvation and near revolution that toppled the Kaiser. Not much contributed by the US....


In 1918 the Germans were still capable and did launched an offensive. Both side were worn out pretty much the same. Many support the idea that any side, with the back up of a new, fresh and massive (almost 2 million) US forces could have won the war. The US sided with Britain and France, so the three of them won. If the US would have sided with the Germans, they could have won in more or less the same terms. The fact that the US intervention represented the "winning move" does not imply that Britain and France bleed and made an incredible sacrifice, it means what it means.


Wrong.

British foreign policy was to stop any one country on continental Europe achieving total domination of the continent. That applied equally to France, Germany and Russia. The British guarantee to Belguim was to stop that country being annexed by the French, at the time the guarantee was made Germany did not exist as a nation state.

Yes, there was concern over the size of the German Navy and the degree of commercial rivalry and protectionism coming from Germany. But at the same time Britain did have good relations with Germany and was Germany's biggest trading partner. Both countries benefitted from that relationship.


Agree: the British would have acted as you describe here because it was their experience that they would be in trouble with a continental superpower: it happened with France for centuries and with Napoleon's France just a century prior. By 1881-1914 it was Germany. However the moral terms of the protection of Belgium were vague, because, as showed in the opening post, the British were considering to be them those that invaded, in a pre emptive measure, Belgium. As for the British were concerned the Belgium issue was not because they have a moral obligation but just a geo political need.

I also concur that the British nation and Parliament were friendly with Germany. As a matter of fact Germany and Britain share more than France and Britain, like the argument at the start of the movie "Battle of Britain". It was just an anti-German faction leaded by Edward Grey those that plotted to destroy this nation.

There is no evidence that the Serbian government was involved. The murder was commited by a terrorist group that called itself the ''Black Hand.'' It was no more representative of Serbia than the IRA represented Ireland.


Serbia blocked all means of an investigation. However the "Black Hand" leader was a Serbian agent Colonel Dimitrijevic. As a matter of fact this group, and many others, were supported also by the Russians in their hope of crush the Austro Hungarian Empire and get their way into the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles as to have an increasing influence in the Balkans.

This is a complete load of rubbish. This long and rambling discourse offers a complete perversion and twisting of the facts that I would expect from Pravda or Izvestia, or even Mein Kampf.

Nowhere in this piece of propaganda is the Schlieffen Plan mentioned. Neither is the fact that Franz Josef only approved the ultimatum to Serbia after receiving the assurance of German military support from Wilhelm ii.
It was Germany that declared war on Russia, then on France two days later specifically to implement the Schlieffen Plan, and invaded Belguim. The only concession the Germans made was not to invade Holland as well, which the original version of the Schlieffen Plan required.
But don't let a few inconvenient facts get in the way of a good rant.


I will not address the outburst comments. The facts speak by themselves, so there is no need to address them, they can be found in any History Book or in Wikipedia if you like: the issue of the mobilization and of the British and French attempts to scuttle any peace keeping initiatives from the Germans are very clear.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I#Background

However we must address the Schlieffen Plan. Germany, trapped amongst two enemies, devised this plan in order to try to survive, just as that. The plan considered an attack on France before this nation will be ready to fight and, at the same time, try to invade Germany at the same time that Russia was attacking from the East, which is something not mentioned: the Russians were invading the German Empire, which is why the Battle of Tannenberg took place. Again: the overall allied plan was offensive in natura and the Schlieffen was a counter measure to that. I am not going to say that it was merely "defensive" measure, it was highly offensive in a Clausewitzianian way, but the allies' plan were that same too and with the fact that they spilled the first blood.

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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:52 pm

I found this on the issue of the Serbian involvement with the terrorist "Black Hand" faction:


Danilo Ilić was a Bosnian Orthodox Serb. He had worked as a school teacher and as a bank worker but in 1913 and 1914 he lived with, and outwardly off, his mother, who operated a small boarding house in Sarajevo. In late 1913, Danilo Ilić came to the Serbian listening post at Užice to speak to the officer in charge, Colonel C. A. Popović, who was a captain at the time and a member of the "Black Hand". Ilić recommended an end to the period of revolutionary organization building and a move to direct action against Austria-Hungary. Popović passed Danilo Ilić on to Belgrade to discuss this matter with Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, known more commonly as Apis.[16] By 1913, Apis and his fellow military conspirators (drawn heavily from the ranks of the May 1903 coup) had come to dominate what was left of the "Black Hand".[17]

There are no reports as to what took place between Ilić and Apis, but in January 1914, Apis' right hand man and fellow "Black Hander", Major Vojislav Tankosić, who by this time was in charge of guerrilla training, called a Serbian irredentist planning meeting in Toulouse, France.[18] Amongst those summoned to the Toulouse meeting was Mehmed Mehmedbašić, a carpenter by trade and son of an impoverished Muslim noble from Herzegovina.[19] He too was a member of the "Black Hand", having been sworn into the organization by "Black Hand" Provincial Director for Bosnia-Herzegovina Vladimir Gacinović and Danilo Ilić. Italian journalist and politician Luigi Albertini states that Mehmedbašić "was eager to carry out an act of terrorism to revive the revolutionary spirit of Bosnia."[20] During this January 1914 meeting, various possible Austro-Hungarian targets for assassination were discussed, including Franz Ferdinand. However, the participants decided only to dispatch Mehmed Mehmedbašić to Sarajevo, to kill the Governor of Bosnia, Oskar Potiorek.[20]

On his way to Bosnia-Herzegovina from France, police searched Mehmedbašić's train for a thief. Thinking the police might be after him, he threw his weapons (a dagger and a bottle of poison) out the train window.[20]

16.^ Albertini (1953, pp 27–28, 79). Albertini, Luigi. 1953. Origins of the War of 1914 (Vol II). Oxford University Press: London.
17.^ MacKenzie p47 and in entirety. MacKenzie, David. Black Hand On Trial: Salonika 1917, Eastern European Monographs, 1995. ISBN 9-780880-333207
18.^ Albertini (1953, pp 76–77).
19.^ Dedijer p 282. Dedijer, Vladimir. The Road to Sarajevo, Simon and Schuster, Belfield, Richard. The Assassination Business: A History of State-Sponsored Murder, Carroll & Graf Publishers: New York, 1966. ISBN 0786713437
20.^ a b c Albertini (1953, p 78)



As you can see it was France the place the Serbian backed terrorists use to meet.
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:32 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
As you can see it was France the place the Serbian backed terrorists use to meet.


Which proves nothing. Is this intended to be guilt by association? Did the French government support the ''Black Hand?''
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:42 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
In 1918 the Germans were still capable and did launched an offensive. Both side were worn out pretty much the same. Many support the idea that any side, with the back up of a new, fresh and massive (almost 2 million) US forces could have won the war.


The last German offensive was in June 1918, the last of a series of major pushes on the Western Front in spring 1918 made using largely troops drawn from Russia. By July 1918 the Germans had exhausted themselves. It was from that point on that the British forces attacked and breached the Hindenburg Line. Had the Armistice not come into effect in November the British Army would have swept right through Belguim into the Rhineland. This was almost an entirely British victory; Most of the very large US contingent was held back from the frontline combat duties by Pershing because he did not yet consider them to be combat ready. The French posture was still entirely defensive, guarding Paris.
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:46 pm

RF:

Which proves nothing. Is this intended to be guilt by association? Did the French government support the ''Black Hand?''


It could have been "just" chance. But if we go to the extreme reasoning here: Serbia back up the Black Hand terrorist cell. Russia not only back up Serbia but helped the terrorists cells this first country aided in order to crush the Austro Hungarian Empire. And France was giving all the support to Russia in order to start a revanchist war against Germany. If France helped or not the Black Hand I don't know... maybe nobody alive knows, but by tighting ties and giving aid to Russian expansionist drive in the Balcans make the French co responsible to this world holocaust.
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:50 pm

[quote="Karl Heidenreich"

Serbia blocked all means of an investigation. However the "Black Hand" leader was a Serbian agent Colonel Dimitrijevic. As a matter of fact this group, and many others, were supported also by the Russians in their hope of crush the Austro Hungarian Empire and get their way into the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles as to have an increasing influence in the Balkans.

Regards,[/quote]

Serbia could have good reason to block an Austrian investigation - especially if it was apparent that such an investigation would be conducted in such belligerent terms that Serbia would be held responsible regardless of whether the country was innocent or guilty of any involvement in the murder. The investigation could easily be used as an excuse for immediate invasion - like the Germans using paratroops in Polish uniform in 1939 as the immediate precursor to all out invasion of Poland, or the Italian dupe soldiers who got shot at the Wal Wal oasisi being used to justify Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia.
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:53 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
It could have been "just" chance. But if we go to the extreme reasoning here: Serbia back up the Black Hand terrorist cell. Russia not only back up Serbia but helped the terrorists cells this first country aided in order to crush the Austro Hungarian Empire. And France was giving all the support to Russia in order to start a revanchist war against Germany. If France helped or not the Black Hand I don't know... maybe nobody alive knows, but by tighting ties and giving aid to Russian expansionist drive in the Balcans make the French co responsible to this world holocaust.


This is assumption piled on assumption to achieve a pre-determined proposition. It is not a logical or reasoned argumemt at all.

Where is the evidence Serbia backed the ''Black Hand?''
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Re: The guns of August: the reason for WWI

Postby RF » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:59 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
I will not address the outburst comments. The facts speak by themselves, so there is no need to address them, they can be found in any History Book or in Wikipedia if you like: the issue of the mobilization and of the British and French attempts to scuttle any peace keeping initiatives from the Germans are very clear.



It was not an outburst comment at all, but a reasoned summation of an incorrect and biased proposition. You have twisted the facts and their interpretation to support a revisionist account that Britain and France started the war. It is clear Germany started WW1 as the prime mover of the military action. France, Belguim and Britain had to respond to it, to defend their interests and territorial integrity. The Kaiser could have prevented the war - had he wanted to. He didn't. The blame lies with him.
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