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How was Germany able to hold itself together, while Austria-Hungary could not?

How was Germany able to hold itself together, while Austria-Hungary could not?



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After defeat in WWI, the monarchies of the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire rapidly crumbled, and their outlying provinces took the opportunity to declare independence and sovereignty. Austria's problems are well-known, but Germany also had uprisings in Bavaria, Silesia, Posen, and Berlin itself.

And yet the Weimar Republic was successfully able to put down these rebellions, despite massive economic, industrial, and military problems after the war and Armistice at Compegnie. By the time the Treaties of Versailles, Trianon, and Saint-Germain were to be signed, Germany still held on to all of its land, while Austria-Hungary no longer existed as a political entity. The unified German state was only ~50 years old at the time, while the Austrian Empire controlled its lands for much longer than that, so why was it that the former was able to stick together so much better than the latter?

The Entente powers, all too happy to dismantle Austria-Hungary and forbid the union from reoccurring, also left Germany intact (aside from reversing the territorial gains of Prussia at the expense of France and Poland). Why? If this was motivated by ethnic nation-statehood, why were Austria and Germany kept separate, when both are Germans (and Bavarians are closer geographically and religiously to Austrians than Prussians)?


The unified German state was only ~40 years old at the time, while the Austrian Empire controlled its lands for much longer than that, so why was it that the former was able to stick together so much better than the latter?

The German Empire was a far more homogeneous state than Austria-Hungary. While the vast majority of Germans were… Germans, Austria-Hungary famously had to issue mobilisation orders in 11 languages. Their ethnic identities included:

  1. Germans
  2. Hungarians
  3. Czechs
  4. Croats/Serbians
  5. Bosniaks
  6. Slovenian
  7. Poles
  8. Ukrainians
  9. Romanians
  10. Italians
  11. Slovaks

Although Germans and Hungarians dominated politically, none of these groups were more than 25% of the population. Once the prestige and authority of the Habsburg Monarchy disintegrated, there was nothing holding these disparate nationalities together.

Perhaps even more importantly, each nationality was to a large degree concentrated in specific locales. The Hungarians dominated central Hungary; the Czechs were concentrated in Bohemia; and the Croats lived within Croatia-Slavonia, for example. Once central authority broke down, it was therefore relatively easier for each of these subregions to transition into a new nation-state of their own.

In contrast, the German Empire was very much a single-nation state. Now, to be sure, there was still numerous minority groups. However, Germans constituted 92% of the German population. This was an overwhelmingly dominant group, which by and large continued to identify with Germany even after the monarchies collapsed.

Moreover, on a geographical level, ethnic Germans dominated most of Germany. Hence although there were many uprisings, separatist revolts were limited to the periphery and did not threaten the core German territories.

The Entente powers, all too happy to dismantle Austria-Hungary and forbid the union from reoccurring, also left Germany intact (aside from reversing the territorial gains of Prussia at the expense of France and Poland). Why?

One of the policies pursued by the victorious powers is national self-determination, a principle expressed by President Wilson in his Fourteen Points declaration.

If you examine the ethnic maps posted above, then it becomes obvious that the Allies actually partitioned both Germany and Austria-Hungary roughly along ethnic lines. Most of the Polish regions of Germany were detached. The Danish dominated the northern bit of Schleswig-Holstein, which was returned to Denmark. Likewise, Austria-Hungary lost South Tyrol to Italy, Galicia to Poland, Banat to Romania, and the remaining Germans, Hungarians, Croats/Serbs/Slovenians, and Czechs/Slovaks each gained their own nation states.

Since most of Germany was inhabited by Germans, she stayed together largely intact. In contrast, Austria-Hungary was very fragmented ethnically. Therefore, the logical result of "giving every language its own state", as the exasperated French complained of Wilson, meant that Austria-Hungary ended up being completely dismantled.

Of course, Allied strategic concerns regularly overrode this principle. For instance, the Danzig Corridor was awarded to Poland despite its German majority, in order to give the Poles access to the sea. Austria was also prevented from entering into a union with Germany, because the Allies feared this would strengthen Germany too much. Even then, however, there was inter-allied manoeuvring to avoid taking blame for violating the principle of self-determination.

While they wished to make [the prohibition of Anschuluss] permanent, the British instead stressed its temporary character. Some Englishmen wanted the French to bear the "odium" for any violation of the principle of national self-determination.

Low, Alfred D. The Anschluss Movement, 1918-1919, and the Paris Peace Conference. American Philosophical Society, 1974.

The principle of national self-determination was not wholly lip service - it found many believers among Allied intellectuals. Although practical concerns regularly overrode it, Allied leaders were nonetheless unwilling to appear completely hypocritical. Thus:

But why not give Bavaria to Austria, to make Germany weaker?

Preventing anschluss was relatively easy to achieve. the French simply dismissed the Austrian movement as a ruse orchestrated by Berlin. While President Wilson was insistent that the Allies "cannot deny a country the right to link up with another; we cannot refuse a country the right to join another, if she wishes it", he was quite willing to agree that "we can prohibit an annexation" by Germany. And so the Big Three resolved to prohibit anschluss except with the approval of the League of Nations.

To go further by substantially dismembering Germany, however, would have been a much more egregious violation of the principle of self-determination. The French did consider such a move, asking for the creation of an independent Rhenish state, but this time Wilson adamantly refused to budge:

The most that France felt able to urge for its own security was the creation of a separate Rhineland state, and even this was thwarted by Wilson's use of the national determination argument. In lieu, Wilson offered the French demilitarization of the Rhine and an Anglo-American guarantee of the frontier with Germany.

Cassels, Alan. Ideology and International Relations in the Modern World. Routledge, 2002.

Although the French didn't bother pushing to move Bavaria to Austria, we can reasonably expect Wilson to have the same reaction. Moreover, there was substantial support within the British Foreign Office for joining Austria to Germany in order to counterbalance Prussia's dominance by strengthening southern, Catholic Germany. To detach Bavaria would have the opposite effect, and would produce pressure on Lloyd George to oppose such a scheme.

[A] secret memorandum drawn up in the Foreign Office in the fall of 1916 had recommended both the dissolution of the Habsburg multinational empire and the Anschluss of the "German provinces of Austria" with Germany. In his memoirs [prime minister David Lloyd George] praised as "remarkable" this British memorandum, which had been prepared and signed by two prominent officials of the Foreign Office… In any event, this increase will not add to Prussia's power, but rather enhance the importance of the non-Prussian German states and substantially enlarge Germany's Catholic elements. The weakening of Prussia will diminish Germany's threat to Europe. "We therefore think that the drifting of the Austrian provinces to Germany need not alarm the Allies who are not intent on crushing Germany".

Low, Alfred D. The Anschluss Movement, 1918-1919, and the Paris Peace Conference. American Philosophical Society, 1974.


Nationalism was the defining organizing principle of the 20th Century.

Under that Principle, having a country named "Germany" made up primarily of Germans makes perfect sense. Such a country should be stable. There's no real seam for parts of it to separate off into other cohesive units.

On the other hand, an "empire" made up of Germans, Hungarians, Romanians, and all manner of different flavors of Slavs, all living mostly in their own self-contained areas is an incoherent mess that's going to take constant effort (likely repression) to keep together. Any unrest in any one area is going to instantly take on the proportions of a Civil War if it isn't contained quickly.


Germany could remain a relatively large block somewhat resembling its pre-war shape in terms of international borders. But that does not mean these borders and the block itself weren't challenged. Most of the rebellions in Germany at the end of the war were communist uprisings, often quickly put down by proto-Nazi troops, which were officially and originally ordered to quell nationalist uprisings on the fringes of the Reich, mostly Polish incursions.

That is the first difference compared to Austria-Hungary: Austria was a weak state - structurally and administratively - before the war and really already in complete shambles by the end of the war. Many centrifugal forces - active from before the war - and utter breakdown across the field. Czech autonomy, only hinted at in Wilson's 14 points, was rapidly expanded into full independence by Czech nationalists while the Austrian leadership still tried to woo the Czechs into participatory citizenship.

Meanwhile Germany remained an orderly state, crushing any dissent and aspirations, with a self-image of "undefeated in the field" with functioning and effective (para-)military units. The ruling elites (except for the monarchs), the civil service and military power structures were a little shaken, but otherwise left completely intact. With the help of the social democrats in gunning down any rebellion the same conservatives loyal to the fatherland with their imperial ambitions were not only able to survive but emerge from the turmoil only strengthened.

The politics of nationalism are and were a complete disaster on every front imaginable. And arguing with nationalism as an intrinsic factor for anything is falling into the trap that the propagandists of nationalism laid out all around. Nationalism is a construct of arbitrary imprecision, actively invented and absent from human nature, but apparently useful for the ruling elites. (Cf. Immanuel Wallerstein: "The Modern World-System IV: Centrist Liberalism Triumphant, 1789-1914", "Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities", "Studies in Modern Capitalism: Geopolitics and Geoculture")

Its major political problem was twofold: how to provide historical legitimacy for the Bismarckian (Prusso-Little German) version of unification which had none; and how to deal with that large part of the democratic electorate which would have preferred another solution (Great Germans, anti-Prussian particularists, Catholics and, above all, Social Democrats). (Hobsbawm)

The "nation" of Germany (really the second Reich) was forged by Bismarck just a few decades before and explicitly excluding the Germans from Austria, for practical power politics reasons. But including the Danes and Friesians in the North, the Sorbs and Wendish in the Middle, a few French in thoroughly Germanic Alsace-Lorraine and Poles, Kashubs etc. in the East. Even the ever separatist Bavarians. As well as the 30% Polish minority in the industrialised Rhineland.

But for French revanche, Europe might have faced the Eastern Question with comparative ease. What gave the impending crisis its dreadful character was the fear of a simultaneous Franco-Russian assault on Central Europe. No American saw the essentially tragic nature of the Franco-Russian alliance more clearly than did William R. Thayer, an acute observer of the European scene, who wrote in November 1891:

Russia is… the center of the warlike storm-area to-day. Eliminate her from European politics, and the other powers would have no plausible excuse for keeping up their armaments, because France, in spite of her grievances and wrath, would see the hopelessness of dashing her head against Germany, supported by Austria and Italy. The possibility of winning Russia as an ally… has forced Germany to stand by her guns. But the Russian monster threatens not only Germany; as Napoleon discerned eighty years ago, he endangers all western Europe.

More:

With the approach of peace, Wilson's immediate challenge lay in Europe, where his leadership hinged on an armistice based on his Fourteen Points. The President understood fully that the European Allies did not share his vision of the post-war world, especially after the Russian publication of the Allied secret treaties. To protect his diplomatic independence, Wilson rejected a formal alliance with Britain and France, designating the United States officially as an “associated power” in the Western coalition. Throughout the final months of the war, he refused to compromise his principles by recognizing the secret treaties, or to prejudice any post-war Allied negotiations with wartime concessions to known British and French interests.

Those partitions away from the former Reich's territory clearly prove that the 14 points of Wilson's address were moot when the armistice was signed. They served their purpose and were put to rest. While some of the concepts of national self-determination were publicly proclaimed, in practice they were way too often undermined or ignored. Gerrymandering of voting districts in Schleswig, Eupen, Malmedy, parts of Eastern provinces, Saar and Alsace cut off without a vote, Rhineland occupation, relatively open voting fraud in other areas are a contestable issue. Later actions on behalf of the allies in forbidding German-Austria to join the other Germans and the ethnic make-up or construction of Czechoslovakia expose the best-before date of the principles of the 14 points.

Nationalism as well as "self-determination" are good for rousing peasants and middle class voters who didn't care before (as evidenced by peaceful co-settlement patterns). When it comes down to actual decisions: power and economic interests rule the day, any day.

Splitting up a country that was only formed a few years before was easy. Napoleon did just that a hundred years before with German lands: An exercise that after World War II was done again, of course.

And after World War I it was not unimaginable to separate especially Rhine-provinces and Bavaria from the Reich. Bavaria had to be bribed into the union from the start. The Rhenish resented Prussian rule, were catholic and had separatist tendencies, leanings and sympathy for the French who furthered their independence movement, occupied the zone in question for a time. They Rhenish and the Bavarians resented and still resent to a degree the Prussians. And they speak another language too:

Notice the fat colourful lines that cross ancient, 19th, 20th century, and present day borders. Even today people from both sides of the border between Germany and the Netherlands understand each other much better than Bavarians can understand Friesian people. Swabians today advertise jokingly their inability to speak proper standard high German.

Calling Germany a more homogenous country is quite misleading. A Germany based on ethnicity according to nationalism would incorporate much more of the Netherlands and Belgium, Switzerland, Bohemia and the whole of Austria. But going by linguistic borders alone could arguably also lead to splitting Germany into several pieces, since East-Netherlands and Northern Germany as well as Bavaria and Austria are in two separate but very smooth continua. Culturally, language is not the only divide to observe. Even religiously German speaking countries remain split - or perhaps more accurate: very thoroughly mixed up:

So the second main difference between Germany and Austria-Hungary is that Germany could have and should have been dismantled much more. But the French were not allowed to have it their way. Nor the Polish or the Czech were allowed to have it all their way by the other powers. Not because of anything about language or nationality or self-determination. Those concepts only mattered in rhetoric not in actual aims, plans or interests.

The French negotiating claims against Germany were presented to the British and Americans in the opening stages of the peace conference. For clarity of exposition, they may be divided into territorial, economic, and security elements, although this division obscures their interconnectedness. Although the French had claims on Germany's African colonies in the Cameroons and Togoland, the territorial starting point within Europe must be Alsace-Lorraine, the province and a half that in 1871 they had forfeited. The Clemenceau government successfully insisted that it be allowed to regain Alsace-Lorraine without a plebiscite, and with the authority to expel German immigrants and liquidate German holdings in mining and heavy industry. The protection for minorities that qualified other territorial transfers decided at the conference did not apply here. The northern frontier of Lorraine, however, had changed on many earlier occasions, and Clemenceau asked not for the line of 1870 but that of 1814-15, which included two salients round Saarbriicken and Landau. The former would give him most of the Saar coal basin, but he also wanted to occupy the remainder of the coalfield situated beyond the 1814 line, to exploit its mines and to incorporate the whole of the Saar into the French monetary and customs zone. Farther to the north lay the German territories on the left bank of the Rhine, which the French contended should be divided into one or more nominally independent states, to be disarmed, made neutral, and given their own central bank and note issue. They would be included, however, in the "Western European customs zone," and both the left bank and the Rhine bridges would remain indefinitely under Allied occupation.
Should this program be rejected, Clemenceau and his advisers intended to demand the annexation of a glacis inhabited by one million Germans to the north of the 1814 frontier.
This security system would be incomplete if it excluded the Low Countries, and the French hoped for military cooperation with Belgium, as well as closer economic integration. They supported Belgium's territorial demands on Germany and its pretensions to territory from the Netherlands, which latter would be "compensated" at Germany's expense. In Luxembourg, however, which the Belgians hoped to annex, the Clemenceau government refused Brussels a free hand. The Versailles treaty confirmed Luxembourg's departure from its prewar customs union with Germany but transferred the Grand Duchy's principal railway system from German to French control.
In the remaining territorial questions, French policy moved to weaken Germany as much as possible, disregarding both a scrupulous adherence to self-determination and sometimes the wishes of Germany's neighbors: Denmark, for example, wanted less of Schleswig than Paris wished to see assigned to it.
Similarly, France denied the legitimacy of Austrian aspirations for union with Germany, and the peace treaty required the Germans to respect Austrian independence in the absence of a contrary decision by a League of Nations in which France would have a veto. The new authorities in Prague, by contrast, wished to maintain control over the German-speakers of the Sudetenland, and as early as June 1918 the French had publicly supported the Czech National Council's desire for independence "within the historic limits of your provinces." The French conference delegates agreed that the Sudetenland was strategically and economically indispensable to the Czechoslovak republic and fended off American challenges to Czech claims on it.
In September 1918 Clemenceau had made a similar public promise to the Polish National Committee that "on the day of our victory… France… will spare nothing in order to revive a free Poland corresponding to the latter's national aspirations and bounded by its historic limits." These limits the French Foreign Ministry understood to be the Polish frontiers of 1772, giving the country a broad land corridor to the Baltic at Germany's expense, as well as the port of Danzig. During the armistice negotiations the ministry tried unsuccessfully to stipulate that German forces should retreat behind the 1772 frontier, and an interdepartmental meeting on January 29 reaffirmed support for a strong Poland with a broad land corridor as a "buttress against German expansion," although the "internationalization" of Danzig and the corridor might, in deference to Britain and America, have to be accepted as a second best. Farther to the south, in contrast, the French supported Polish claims to the whole of Upper Silesia, which contained the second largest German coalfield, and, although of mixed population, had not been part of Poland in 1772.

To territorial amputations would be added economic restrictions. [… ] If the wartime inter-Allied agreements for pooling raw materials could be preserved, it would demand only reparation for the damage in the occupied regions, together with protection against dumping and other unfair trading practices. But in the absence of such agreements it would seek an "enormous" German debt burden, as well as coal deliveries of up to 35 million tons annually for twenty-five years. If combined with Germany's loss of the iron ore, coal, and steel of Upper Silesia, Lorraine, and the Saar, such terms would place its heavy industry at a lasting disadvantage and go far to redress the Franco-German imbalance that had grown up in the prewar years. [… ]
Both the territorial and economic elements of the French position, then, had strategic implications. They must be considered in conjunction with the Clemenceau government's wider security demands. It did not ask that Bismarck's work be undone and German unity broken up, although it encouraged Rhenish and Bavarian separatism and unsuccessfully challenged the Weimar government's legal authority to sign the Versailles treaty.
In contradistinction to American thinking, such a body would be a disguised continuation of the wartime coalition, and in the Chamber of Deputies on December 29, 1918, Clemenceau served public notice that he still saw value in the defensive system, now condemned by "certain high authorities," of strategic frontiers, armaments, and alliances. Nonetheless, his "directing thought" in the negotiations would be that "nothing must happen which might separate after the war the four Powers that were united during it. To this unity I will make every sacrifice."

At one stage the French wanted apparently to achieve something like this: or more colourful:

Germany went into the shape of borders it had after 1919 because the unchanged from before elites of Germany still aspired to a Great Reich (and after crushing the revolution and seperatist movements had the means to do so) - and Americans and British were able to restrain the French (and some other minor neighbours) from taking what they wanted.

Sources:

Michael S. Neiberg: "The Treaty of Versailles. A Concise History", Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2017.

Norman A. Graebner and Edward M. Bennett: "The Versailles Treaty and Its Legacy. The Failure of the Wilsonian Vision", Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, New York, 2011.

Manfred F Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman and Elisabeth Glaser : "Treaty of Versailles. A Reassessment After 75 Years", Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, New York, 1998. (Review)


Austria-Hungary failed not only because of their multiculturalism and internal rivalities, but also because

  • They gradually became an insignificant puppet state of Germany during the war
  • Their military defeat was total
  • They couldn't sign a separate peace when it was still possible
  • Hunger, misery, desertions and major hunger protests

The situation evolved a lot between 1914 and 1918, so it's important to understand that, contrary to popular beliefs, collapse was not forseeable in 1914, not even in the Entente's dreams. The 11 different languages within the Empire caused little problems in peace time.

When war broke out in summer 1914, the Entente Sacrée and loyalty to Habsburgs prevaled almost everywhere in the empire. The destruction of Austria-Hungary was not on the Entente's war aims either, so, contrary to popular beliefs, the animosity between nationalities in the empires did not cause an immediate problem and nobody could foresee such a collapse.

The German army was much more prepared for the war than Austria-Hungary's. Germany was an economical superpower prior to the war, and the influence of Prussian militarism was everywhere, so it's army could have the best equipment and lots of funding and influence everywhere in the German society. On the other hand, Austria-Hungary was much less developed economically, only Bohemia and what is modern-day Austria and was back then German-Austria were economically on par with the western countries. Remote places like Transylvania, or Slovenia/Croatia were not yet industrialized, and made of peasant farming economy only. The influence of the military was much more limited, and Austria was more a culture-oriented country, were people were passionate for theatre and music. It's as such no surprise the Austro-Hungarian army was weaker and less prepared than the German army.

Another major factor was the incompetence of high-ranked officers. Austro-Hungarian general Conrad von Hötzendorf, was incompetent, and the German ally had to constantly come to save Austria-Hungary from military defeat. The earliest example is in 1915 when Conrad von Hötzendorf sent his own troops freezing in the Carpathians mountain in the middle of winter, without proper equipment. General von Falkenhayn had to send German divisions from the western front to support Austria, which also prevented Germany to beat France at the time. Since then things only got worse. From a trustworthy ally, Austria-Hungary became a "naughty student" to Germany. This made Austria a puppet state of Germany, incapable of acting on its own.

In 1916 as Austria-Hungary was extremely weakened and started to starve, Emperor Carl the 1st sought peace at all costs immediately after successing Franz-Joseph the 1st, even at defavorable conditions. The more time was passing, the weaker Austria-Hungary was and the more the war would damage the country. However such a peace was not possible without Germany's approval, unless it was a separate peace. German's high command, now lead by the very arrogant and authoritarian generals Ludendorff & Von Hindenburg, thought they were clearly going to win the war and did NOT want to seek a white peace with the Entente. The Kaiser was basically a puppet of those 2 generals and had almost no word to say. Similarly, young inexperiemented Emperor Carl the 1st couldn't do much on his own. Austrian-German nobility supported heavily fighting with Germany until the end, and Carl was isolated in his peace-leaning position. Separate peace would mean Austria considered as a traitor and being invaded by Germany, making the emperor extremely unpopular to say the least, or even be considered a traitor for the Austrian-Germans. Not to mention the half-defeated starving Austrian army could hardly repel such an attack.

A major factor was the arrival of famine and high price of food. Unlike the entente powers such as France and the UK which could import food from their colonies, Germany and Austria-Hungary basically had to feed themselves because of the naval blockade. Germany had a system with ration cards to prevent people stocking food, but Austria-Hungary did not, so prices in food increased tremendously as unscrupulous people could just stock grain and sell it back at a much higher price. As such, famine came sooner to the civilian population in Austria-Hungary (problems arose in 1915 already), while in Germany the situation was tense but under control. Since the soldiers could only be fed every two days, their force and motivation to fight was extremely low to say the least.

As the war advanced in 1917, Autria-Hungary was encountering a wave of desertions that increased even more in 1918. Since everyone, including officiers, were starving there was not much point in following orders anymore, and there was no more weapons and amunitions anyway. People deserted the army to loot nearby for food, or in some cases joined the enemy's army. Austria-Hungary's army gradually stopped to exist, and the few remaining loyal units were busy keeping order at home against food rioters and extremist political agitators. This lead to a situation where self-organized yougoslav and czechoslovak separatists could not be repressed anymore.

Germany, on the other hand, still had it's army mobilized when the armistice was signed, and even though it was on the verge of collapse, they signed the armistice in time to avoid allied occupation of Germany.

The enetente originally did plan to maybe steal a province or two from Austria-Hungary, but the destruction of that country was not on their plan before early 1918. Even in 1917 they still hoped an (impossible) separated peace to be concluded, and the 10th point of Wilson was supposed to grant autonomy to Austro-Hungarian people, not independance. Emperor Carl also wanted to give such autonomy, but alas, the Hungarian nobility tought that was out of question, and fought an united Hungary until the very end, even when the army stopped to exist and such a thing was no longer possible. So autonomy was impossible for Croats, Slovaks and Romanians. Now for the Austrian part of the country they tried to give autonomy to Poles and Czechs. Unfortunately this leads to miscontent by Bohemian-Germans and Ruthenian-Galicians, which did not want to be ruled by Czechs and Poles respecitvely. So a new administration of Austria needed to be put in place, and by the time the plan was ready, it was too late and Austria-Hungary already collapsed.

During 1918 as it became clear a separate peace with Austria-Hungary was impossible, the Entente choose to reconise the (ultra-minority) Czechoslovak and Yugoslav governements in exile as legitimate, which in turn made the destruction of Austria-Hungary on their war aims.

Now, as for why the allies did not allow Austria to join Germany, this is simply because they did not want a strong Germany, especially not France. As for why they kept Germany itself unified and did not revert the unification of 1871, I myself really wonder why it went that way, it makes almost no sense, considering southern German had lots of resentment towards Prussians at the time, seen as arrogant and ultra-militaristic. It's a wonder why the allies did not exploit that sentiment.

By the way, it's a minor nitpick but you're wrong in saying

they reverted territorials gains of Prussia at the expense of France and Poland

The Alsace-Moselle territories were never part of Prussa, just Germany. As for Poland, they drew entirely new borders and did not restore the border to what it was before the German invasion.

My sources includes mainly:

  • Youtube channel The Great War
  • The book The world of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig
  • The book L'Agonie d'une Monarchie, Autriche-Hongrie 1914-1920 by Jean-Paul Bled.

This question is not about Austria, it is about the Habsburgs. The Hungarians did not want any Habsburg ruler for most of them treated Hungary as a colony. The Hungarians always wanted to regain independency that eventually succeded in 1918.


Germany was dismantled as much as possible while still mostly conforming with the self-determination of the local population. The Polish corridor and Danzig were split off without any vote, other areas had a vote. Clearly Polish regions were split off as it should be.

Projecting today's ethnic borders in the former German east on the borders of 1919 is plainly misleading, because the areas of most of Silesia, Farther Pomerania and East Prussia were overwhelmingly German-settled, and had been part of German states for centuries.

Only the huge population shift of 8M+ Germans from these lands cerate the impression that Germany remained "too large" -- in fact no one talks much, Germans the least on the largest-scale ethnic cleansing of 1945-48. So, to the contrary: Germany as of today has become unjustly small.


ELI5:How was Germany able to take on the rest of the whole world, twice in 25 years, and even almost win

German unification in 1871 was a HUGE deal. It united a hundred different states in the strategic heart of Europe into one nation-state with the biggest population and economy on the continent (apart from Russian Empire, which some historians don't consider a proper Westphalian country). Here's the population and economy of major European powers in 1914:

CountryPopulation (millions)GDP (billions US dollar)
UK (including Ireland)4540
France4026
Russian Empire12542
Germany6846

CountryPopulation (millions)GDP (billions US dollar)
UK4756
France4239
USSR150-17071
Germany6275

A country's military power is based on its population and economy. Germany was the most powerful states in Europe. And it took 2 world wars, American intervention, and 46 years of dividing it into 4 and then 2 countries that finally made it into a status-quo power. This may not hold for long though. Many analysts believe that if NATO fails to protect Germany (against Russia?), they would develop their own nuclear arsenal and huge-ass army which, as alerted by experience, isn't going to end well.

Many analysts believe that if NATO fails to protect Germany (against Russia?), they would develop their own nuclear arsenal and huge-ass army which, as alerted by experience, isn't going to end well.

Who, exactly? Some reputable sources would be nice here because I have never heard anybody suggest that.

The two "World Wars" are badly named: they weren't really single conflicts that spanned the globe, but several different conflicts that happened to be connected. For example, in WW2, the war in Europe was quite different from the war in the Pacific, and Nazi Germany only supported Japan because Japan was fighting against the US.

The First World War wasn't at all a case of Germany taking on the rest of the world, or even the rest of Europe. Basically, at the time, Europe had divided itself into two blocs, the idea being that if a country attacked another country, then that country's allies would retaliate -- and so, in theory, peace was assured because no country would be foolish enough to start a war. Unfortunately, political tensions were high in parts of Europe, and when a Serbian terrorist assassinated an Austrian aristocrat, this gave Austro-Hungary the excuse to issue an ultimatum to Serbia that Serbia couldn't possibly accept, and this set in motion a kind of domino effect: Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, so Russia mobilised its troops, so Germany mobilised its troops and invaded Belgium, so Britain declared war on Germany. Basically, the various European countries declared war on each other until the whole lot of them were slugging it out in the trenches.

The Second World War was primarily caused by German aggression, although Germany wasn't alone: Italy, too, was on Germany's side. Hitler secured a pact with Stalin so he could concentrate on the western front. Germany had made huge advances in military technology and had been gearing up for war for a time, and also employed, very successfully, the tactic of "blitzkrieg": a sudden, powerful, early strike against the enemy to overwhelm them before they could properly respond. The Allies, still recovering from the First World War, had attempted to appease Hitler when Hitler came to power, they had persuaded themselves that he was a jumped-up lunatic who was all bark and no bite, and would never be able to actually do anything. As a result, they didn't really expect a war and so hadn't prepared for it.


How was Nazi Germany able to hide it's massive military buildup how were they supposed to be inspected to follow Versailles rules?

So as most historians know Treaty of Versailles was supposed to cull Germany's military force and future capabilities reduced to 100k? Troops, no submarines, and certain ships had a limit on hull armor and gun caliber. I know there's much more to the actually rules. I'm just giving short and sweet answer.

So how was Hitler able to build up the Luftwaffe and the Werhmact's tanks and half tracks to such a degree he could take over most of Europe?

How did he hide, or nor even care to hide, the resources need to build them factories, rubber, steel, the conscription needed to fill ranks.

How did hey pay back the war debts while also paying for the build up? Wasn't something along the lines of lowering the worth of marks to cover the money trail?

How was England and France supposed to inspect Hitler's Germany to ensure they were following the rules of the treaty? Like how the U.N sent inspectors to Iraq and Iran for their nuclear facilities.

The issue comes down to a lack of international government authority. The closest thing to a UN was the bastardized Laugue if Nations and it wasn’t functioning at a capacity for it to serve as an authority.

Germany, to my understanding, was a steel production powerhouse and a hub of industry before WWI. Without any authority ensuring their following of the Treaty of Versailles they were able to return to that position. Unfortunately for the rest of Europe, Germany’s economy and geographic location gives it a pretty influential hold over many states’ economies and once they started moving into their neighbors they only grew stronger.

That’s the biggest flaw of the Treaty of Versailles. Nobody included Germany in their image of the new world or recognized its central influence on Europe as a whole. So, without anyone keeping and eye on them and since they were essentially isolated from interacting with other countries, Germany had the opportunity to build itself up.

This is what I remember from my college level history class though, so don’t take my word for it!

Before WW1, Germany was a leading steel producer, but not after WW1. Germany lost 4/5 of its iron reserves from thr treaty, and had to import Iron from Finland and the Soviet Union.

German military developments with armor were done in russia under the name tractors-- German engineers, equipment and vehicles were sent to Russia and tested there under the pretense that they were agricultural equipment.

The Luftwaffe, armored elements and the german army was also tested and gained experience by sending 'volunteers' to spain to assist in the spanish civil war.

I think a lot of it came down to not wanting to cause too many problems with an issue no one wanted to deal with and were just hoping it would go away.

In his book “The Sinking of the Bismarck” William L. Shirer noted that in his time as a journalist in Nazi Germany, he saw the Bismarck and knew that it was far bigger than the 35,000 tons allotted by the treaties. If he saw it then others did, yet nothing was made about it.

This, just like various outrages today we allow. Nobody wanted to start another Great War, and murder another generation. Germany was disarmed by treaty, but the British and US disarmed just as completely voluntarily due to budgetary considerations, and France adopted a completely defensive approach. Germany was careful to skirt the laws to an extent, and once in the open, to bluff the Western powers who were all too aware of their own weakness.

This is an FAQ so there will be plenty of answers if you use the search function.

Germany hid their buildup by having their arms companies move to other nations where they were allowed to design and test weapons under the treaty, they also had secret testing sites in the USSR. They also encouraged paramilitary organizations and had a militarized police to get around the limits on army size. They used threats, like threatening to withdraw from the disarmament conference to extract concessions (Hitler eventually did withdraw). They secretly built up their military and when caught nobody seemed to care

It's also worth pointing out that German rearmament was happening before the Nazi's took power, and coincided with an attempted alliance with the Soviets.

Versailles was substantially weakened as time went on there was a lot of whining about how it wasn't really ⟺ir' in the 1920s and that Germany needed to be back on its feet economically to keep the democracy going and keep it from going communist, and also to pay off various war debts and loans. So the victorious parties were supposed to have troops that stayed in Germany, but they gradually were phased out the US left in 1923, and the last French and British troops in 1930.

Germany played lots of little games to push the envelope on rearmament in the 1920s and early 1930s, and to build an army large than allowed for Versailles there wasn't any real oversight on disarmament after about 1927. For example, they would train people for the military and then categorize them as police or police auxiliaries. They created an air force by training a bunch of pilots but claimed they were for airliners. They were barred from establishing certain arms works in Germany. so German firms just bought companies and established plants overseas and then imported weapons (and there was no Allied customs controls).

In 1932 there was a World Disarmament Conference to prevent an arms race Germany demanded equality with France and the UK. Then, in the middle of that, Hitler took power.

Hitler eventually left the conference (it ended in 1934), but he campaigned on rearmament and jumped into rearmament at first a little covertly, but by 1935, openly and brazenly, and announced conscription and formally introduced the Luftwaffe.

There was no equivalent at the time of UN Weapons Inspectors the UN may often come across as toothless, but the League of Nations was far more toothless.


Why Was Germany Unified Under Prussia and Not Austria?

I. Introduction
A. Prussia was the foremost country in the unification of Germany B. Although it may have not been the intent of Prussia to unify Germany, it is certain that Prussia had the greatest amount of influence in German politics C. Austria was not in a political, economic, or social state to take on such significant role D. Prussia’s advantages:

a. Almost exclusive German population
b. Leadership more acceptable to German liberals
c. Economic strength, including Zollverein
d. Otto von Bismarck and diplomacy
e. Military, as seen later
E. Simply put, Prussia was in a much better position than Austria

II. Economic strength
A. In 1818, Prussia took the lead by abolishing all tariff barriers within its borders B. In the next few years, Prussia took the initiative to conclude tariff treaties with neighboring countries C. In 1834, the Zollverein was established– a union that established free trade among seventeen German states. D. Remarkable expansion in volume of trade.

E. Undermined the dominant position of the Habsburg monarchy F. Economic weapons to use in its bid for German leadership. 1. German industrialization took off in the 1850's.
a. Rapid growth of the railroads helps to bind/unify German states politically, economically, and socially. 2. German states had adopted liberal economic policies.
a. *This created an emerging national economic market throughout the German states. G. The Zollverein, which was the Prussian Customs Union, had gradually expanded since its founding in 1819. i. By 1834, it included all the major German states except Austria. ii. It helped to create a single German currency and weights and measures and ways of doing business. 1. *So, the Zollverein helped to unite the German business community as well as the German people across the various German states. iii. Prussia claimed to desire Austria's inclusion, but in fact it kept Austria out by maintaining low tariffs. iv. The Habsburgs felt they needed the protection of high tariffs. 1. Why? Because the Austrian Habsburgs weren't confident that their industries could stand up to international competition. a. So, they wanted to keep tariffs high on imported goods.

b. The Prussians and the Zollverein, (being economically liberal, laissez-faire free traders) wanted to keep tariffs low to stimulate trade. c. So, while Austria was always invited to join, the low tariffs kept them out. 2. *So, to close on Germany in the 1850's, Prussia's liberal economic policies were creating a German national economy. a. These liberal economic policies caused German business interests to look to Prussia as the natural leader of the movement for German unification. b. *So, economics is key to understanding German unification at this point. c. Again, the rapid development of a railroad system is really significant in unifying the German states. i. The railroads primarily unified the states economically, as increased trade brought them closer together.

III. Bismarck’s diplomacy, Realpolitik
A. Became PM of Prussia on October 8, 1862
B. Outstanding statesman, practiced Realpolitik– knew when to stop C. Polish Revolt– February 1863, revolt in the Russian part of Poland a. While other countries, including Austria, supported the rebels, Bismarck sent Prussian troops to support Russia in quelling the revolt b. Successful, Prussia supplanted Austria as Russia’s favorable country in regards to German affairs D. Convention of Gastein– August 14, 1865

a. Prussia and Austria agreed to maintain joint sovereignty, with Prussia administering Schleswig and Austria administering Holstein (lay between Schleswig and Prussia) b. Bismarck created a situation where an incident could easily be engineered E. Essentially gained neutrality from all major European nations and isolated Austria F. Austria, with Metternich as its leading voice, was consistently against nationalism in any form and in any.


AskUs: Why was WWI considered "inevitable"?

I’m going to be really cliche here and begin my post with a quote by German Foreign Secretary Bernhard von Bulow (not the General!) in which he said “Mit einem Worte: wir wollen niemand in den Schatten stellen, aber wir verlangen auch unseren Platz an der Sonne” — roughly translating into “In a word, we want no one in the shade, but we also demand our place in the sun.” Keep that in the back of your mind throughout the reading as it is not the mind of one radical exception, but of the people and the government of Germany throughout this period.

So let’s begin. First, a map of Europe for reference. I’d keep this open while reading my post just in case you need to keep up or want to see where things are w.r.t. each other.

Secondly, while I think that this topic is best handled topically I’m going to handle it chronologically. While it’s certainly less efficient in my opinion it helps really give an idea how all of these things played off each other. When you separate them into topics it compartmentalizes all these things when it’s best to think of them happening all at the same time. Basically I’m telling you this is going to be a monumental clusterfu*k of a post so good luck.

Third, let’s discuss the topic of inevitability. Inevitability is a stupid word but it’s a convenient one at that for lower level education. We simplify things all the time for high school students (which is where I’m going to assume you were first exposed to this idea) and this is one of those topics. Ultimately nothing in history is inevitable and it’s not our job as ‘pseudo-historians’ to try and prescribe a bunch of conditions on the past and say X was inevitable because of Y. It removes human agency. What we can say was that because of the conditions (which I will explain briefly) created in the early 20th century, a war became progressively more likely toward the powers in Europe because of divisions being created.

To understand why France went to war in 1914 we have to wind the clock back quite a few decades to 1871. The Franco-Prussian War was the final war of German Unification and it would, overnight, unite hundreds of independent principalities and kingdoms into one continuous state thus creating arguably the most powerful state in Europe. In the process of this Alsace-Lorraine would be taken and the French overwhelmingly embarrassed on the field of battle. Germany would be formed with Bismark and Willhelm I at the head and together they realized what kind of situation they were in — they were without any friends and were entirely encircled by Great Powers. Russia to the East, Austria-Hungary to the South, France to the West, and Great Britain to the North via the North and Baltic Sea’s. In many ways she was squeezed from all sides. Britain, remaining basically isolationist from Continental politics could be removed from the conversation and thus only 3 powers remained of importance — France, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. Creating mutual understanding the League of Three Emperors was born which was a mutual alliance between the three powers along with understanding to help quell minority groups such as the Poles whose burden they all shared.

This was precisely the peace that Bismark envisioned. Britain off doing its own thing in the seas with its colonies, France beaten and broken and entirely without allies, and its Eastern boundaries safe from harm. This would change in 1878 with the Russo-Turkish War. The Turks would be completely and totally destroyed by the Russians. It was not even close and the Russians, seizing the opportunity, would sign a lopsided treaty which forced the Ottomans to release a state called “Greater Bulgaria” which, while technically an Ottoman Protectorate, would be a Russian puppet state in the Balkans which nearly pushed the Turks out of Europe. The Germans and Austro-Hungarians alike were obviously terrified of this clear power grab and called for a conference of Great Powers to call for the partitioning of the Ottomans to supersede the Russo-Ottoman treaty called The Treaty of Berlin. This gives us a much more modern looking Balkans which Russia has significantly less influence over and at this point, in 1878, relations began to break down. Here is a great map I recommend opening now to see the state of Europe leading up to WWI at this point.

The Russians and Austro-Hungarians, each with ambitions in the Balkans, would begin to get at each others throats and what was once a cordial alliance grew into outright rivalry. The Russians also grew distant from the Germans as it was the Germans who called for and hosted the conference which got in their way of their goals. Bismark, ever so clever, would at the same time sign a secret defensive alliance with Austria-Hungary with respect to Russia while also signing a secret non-aggression pact with Russia which stated the two sides would stay out of each others hair as long as both sides weren’t an aggressor toward one of their allied states. This would effectively stabilize the situation and once again create that scenario presented earlier — a secured East, a friend to the South, an isolated enemy to the West and an ambivalent power to the North.

I want to emphasize something here though Germany was not doing this out of the good of her heart or for Austria-Hungary’s support or because she believed in A-H’s ’cause’ necessarily. It was a purely defensive move by Bismark. Germany was isolated and surrounded by Great Powers (A-H, a crumbling but still great power to the South, Russia to the East, France to the West, and Britain to the North via sea) and needed to secure anyone for an ally and A-H was the desperate lonely one at the bar who would have taken anyone that asked. The alliance with Austria-Hungary must be clarified as first and foremost a mutual defense against a mutual threat of Russia and nota friendship or some sort of sign of diplomatic agreement between the two (as I’ll go into later). As an afterthought but still worth mentioning for a later point, the “Triple Alliance” as it’s called would be formed at this point with Italy being brought into the fold creating a mutual alliance between Germany, A-H, and Italy. Italy was not considered a ‘great power’ but was still a significant addition to the team and considered close to Germany.

Bismark, who was de facto leading Germany pre 1888, after securing this deal would look toward Russia. He would not sign an alliance with them but more like a non-aggression pact. As long as Germany doesn’t attack France and Russia doesn’t attack Austria-Hungary they’ll stay out of each others business is the meat of it. Bismark had essentially perfected his craft and secured Germany’s future at least for the time being. Russia and Austria-Hungary were placated, A-H was in his grasp and at least a great power ally, Britain didn’t care about continental conflicts really at all, and France was completely and utterly isolated. I should also note at this point Russia and Great Britain basically hate each other over the whole Crimea War thing and a lot of tensions with Central Asian colonial issues — notably contention between the two over Persia and Tibet.

All this would change when Willhelm II ascended the throne. Right off the bat Willhelm II would sack Bismark, wanting to make his own claim in the world and most notably because of their conflicting interests. I want you to refer to that post I opened up with. A common phrase in Germany in the 1890’s and 1900’s was Weltmacht Oder Niedergang, or World Power or Downfall. Willhelm II and by extension Germany by his influence would begin a policy titled Weltpolitik which is classified by aggressive diplomacy to seize colonies, gain international prestige, and basically bully ones way up the “great power pyramid” you can say. Germany would immediately break the ice by not renewing the non-aggression pact with Russia. Kaiser Willhelm felt his personal relationship with the Tsar would be enough to stop war between the two nations (it wasn’t, obviously). He gets a lot of flak for doing this but it was not some gung-ho decision — his advisers would tell him to not renew the alliance as they felt it would be diplomatically disadvantageous domestically for secret alliances like this with the Russians nonetheless to be coming out. Thus, overnight, Russia was isolated and had a threat in Austria-Hungary who was now allied with Germany. France was still isolated. What do two completely isolated powers with a mutual potential threat do? They form an alliance — which is precisely what France and Russia would do in the early 1890’s.

Germany would go overnight from being in the most advantageous position in Europe to being surrounded by two Great Powers. At least Britain wasn’t involved, right? And at least Britain hated Russia so there’s no way the three could gang up on them, right? Yeah about that. The navy was Kaiser Willhelm II’s lovechild for his reign and he spent a considerable amount of time pushing for greater buildup to protect colonies and moreover, contest the British. Britain had de facto pressed for decades and in 1889 formally passed a system called the “Two Power Standard” which basically meant that Britain was to have as many ships as the next two most powerful naval powers combined. Germany wanted to crush this. The hope was that if Germany stole away Britain’s (by now 80 year old and accepted) naval hegemony, along with their shared cultural ancestry, Germany would be seen as too strong of a nation to not take as an ally and the two nations would fall into each others arms. Yeah it’s dramatic and it sounds like a stupid idea because it was and it had the exact opposite effect. The two nations would begin a massive naval arms race which only furthered tensions and made Britain more suspect of Germany’s intentions of building such a massive navy for a nation with very few colonial possessions.

To emphasize a later point I need to talk about the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of 1902. The British and Japanese would create a defensive treaty which, by extension, allowed Japan to go to war with Russia in 1904 over some East Asian ports. No nation, particularly France who was now allied with Russia or Germany who may have wanted to intervene to get back in Russia’s good graces, could intervene as declaring war on Japan would mean declaring war on Britain. Isn’t that the beautiful part? Since Japan opened the hostilities Britain was not obligated to go to war with anyone until someone else intervened and attacked Japan and France did not have a reason to intervene since their treaty with Russia was w.r.t. Germany, not anyone else.

Just to make sure that France would not find a reason to intervene Britain and France would sign a series of agreements called the Entente Cordiale which basically solidified the North African colonial possessions of both of the two powers that had been in long contention. The French would have full influence over Morocco and Algiers while France would recognize British hegemony over Egypt. What Britain had effectively done was isolate Russia from everyone else in the world, even her closest ally (France) and greatest admirer (Germany), from involving themselves and basically made it a one on one slugfest between the two nations. One Japan would whoop Russia’s butt in. This is the type of crap I’m talking about when I say Britain and Russia hated each other. Even as late as 1904 Britain was actively trying to f**k Russia over so it could gain an edge in Central Asian colonial diplomacy.

Where we’re getting to now is why I really decided to do this chronologically rather than thematically. In the beginning of 1905 the first Dreadnought began being designed by the British which would be laid down in October. What is a Dreadnought? Well a Dreadnought was a new type of revolutionary warship that was so damn good at killing other warships that everything before it was essentially useless compared to it. It didn’t “reset” the naval race per se as we’re still talking about dozens upon dozens of ships the British had over the Germans but we’re talking about such a technological leap that Germany had a chance. Dreadnoughts were short range, heavily armored and heavily gunned ships that could mow down anything that came before it. The Naval Race which had in some respects been stagnating just shot into overdrive. Germany would be planning ship construction into the 1920’s and 30’s and we’re talking about dozens of these ships. This was their chance to seize naval control of at least the Baltic Sea as their own (read: close range) and contest the North Sea (see first picture) and truly threaten Britain which will…somehow…make them friendly? At the very least wary to go to war with Germany fearing a catastrophic loss of ships.

In the same year, 1905, the major event which most historians attribute as the first real catalyst that ‘set the ball rolling’ toward war happened. The First Moroccan Crisis. As we know France was basically given control over Morocco by a mutual agreement with the British and the Moroccan’s were not very happy about this and began bustling for independence. Rightfully so they wanted independence I should add as let’s not get it twisted, this was French colonialism and it’s no different from any other kind. Germany however was not acting in some benevolent fashion and wanted to undermine the French to weaken them and more importantly wanted to draw a wedge in the Entente Cordiale by illegitimating it. If Morocco attains full independence despite the agreement the two nations are driven apart. Kaiser Willhelm II would go to Tangiers and deliver a keynote speech crying for Moroccan independence and how no nation should fall under the colonial grasp of another. Germany had whispered into the ear of the Sultan to disassociate and rebel against France’s wishes and was basically hoping by getting the rest of Europe involved it would go their way and undermine the French to further isolate them from everyone else.

France would react violently. Their Prime Minister obviously insisted that a conference was not necessary and Morocco was under their sphere of influence. Germany would disagree and threatened war over the issue by threatening a defensive treaty with the Sultan. Germany was not going to declare war over the issue, it was a bluff by all accounts and an extension of Weltpolitik. The Germans were not prepared for a war at this point and were merely using their big guns as an extension of their diplomatic body to flex in the French’s face. It was aggressive diplomacy and it worked. The Prime Minister Delcassé would resign as no one would support his staunch anti-German policy and agreed to attend the conference. They were, effectively, bullied into submission.

Things were looking up for Germany…but then then they weren’t. The conference was totally a disaster and there is no way of twisting it any other way. Nobody supported Germany outright. Russia obviously supported France as did Spain but the real shockers was first Britain and secondly Italy. Wait what? Britain makes sense — they maintained the integrity of their agreement but Italy was the true shocker. Germany’s public defensive ally defied it in the congress and while Austria-Hungary tentatively supported Germany it was with an asterisk basically begging them to please stop being so aggressive and be more conciliatory. Germany, and more specifically the Kaiser, could have taken this as a note of the failure of Weltpolitik as a foreign policy but instead the Kaiser became more solidified in his belief in it. He would not again let himself back down and instead viewed more aggressive diplomacy necessary for it to work.

France and Britain had grown closer and at the very least Germany hoped this would drive at wedge between France and Russia. Well…it didn’t. All 3 powers supported the same decision in this conference and recognized the threat of Germany. Britain and Russia who just one year prior were actively f**king each other over began to make nice now and by 1907 would sign a series of agreements which would solidify the boundaries in Central Asia, the fate of Persia, and basically begin their friendship.

This was by all accounts the logical choice for both parties. Britain wanted to support France but to support France they would need to accommodate Russia. Also by extension of this agreement Britain would free up swathes of manpower stationed in India which were there for a significant purpose of keeping Russia in check and contesting said Central Asian territories. Although Russia herself could still go back into Germany’s arms any time she wished in this period and really did not need the French and British as much as they needed Russia, Russia felt alliance with the two powers was more beneficial than with Germany and A-H. The catastrophe in Manchuria against the Japanese and the failed revolution in 1905 as well showed the Tsar that the frontiers needed to be handled once and for all and the efforts concentrated and by dealing with Manchuria with Japan via losing and by dealing with Central Asia with Britain via diplomacy Russia could exert all of her efforts toward the West.

There can not be a greater indictment of Weltpolitik than when you consider the deep seated and long lasting (at times hundreds of years long) hostilities between France, Britain, and Russia being resolved so rapidly. In January 1904 Russia and Britain were irreconcilable, Britain and France were on uneasy terms, and France and Russia were friends but it was nothing really solid — it was really a one way agreement if you think about it. By December 31st 1907 though we can truly say the Triple Entente was formed in at least a proto state. But it was all tentative. It would be the 1911 Crisis that really set all of this into stone and really set the divisions in place that you talk about.

France, using riots as an excuse to send troops into Morocco would be quite slow to leave and were clearly making a power grab. A grab which was in clear violation of the treaty agreed upon by the congress just a few years prior. Now, this legitimately did drive a wedge between Britain and France for just a moment and Germany had an opportunity to shine if it acted diplomatically. It did not. Remember what I said about the Kaiser not backing down? Instead of operating in a peaceful, diplomatic fashion Germany would escalate the situation in true Weltpolitik fashion she would send warships to intervene. Britain, who again held naval hegemony despite the race, was stunned. With the extension of actually not even knowing where the rest of the German fleet was the crisis immediately shifted from the French mucking up the treaty and more with maintaining the integrity of the Triple Entente in the face of German aggression. Germany would seize a sizable amount of French territory in sub-equatorial Africa to integrate into the colony of Kamerun and would in return recognize French control over Morocco. Weltpolitik would in the short sight work but in the grand scheme completely fail.

Charles Maurras, a contemporary, wrote “The solution of the Moroccan crisis is not to be found in Fez but among the pines of the Vosges. What is afoot in Morocco makes sense only if we are prepared to fight in the Vosges.” [1] What the Second Crisis made explicit was what should have been made implicit in the first — that colonial disputes were now for the first time ever being directly projected back onto Europe and European rivalries and not treated in vacuums. This is only exacerbated by the fact that Morocco’s geographic position directly influences control of the Mediterranean which makes it harder to separate than some sub-equatorial African colony.

The Triple Entente was by all accounts solidified at this point in a mutual fear of Germany and even though by 1912 the naval arms race had almost entirely cooled down (Britain, for instance, reducing to a one-power standard in the Mediterranean) it was far too late. Britain was now in favor of continental intervention with regards to assisting France and would use her naval might to contest the German navy in the Baltics to protect the Russians. Russia who was just a few years prior in this strange land where it could still choose which power bloc to support was now fully behind France and Britain and France, despite having an abysmally low birth rate and a low population would now be able to stand up to Germany with two big friends. Italy had shown in these two crisis’ that her allegiance was only tentatively with Germany which explains their backing out of the war and even joining on the side of the Entente in 1915. Germany’s position was one of isolation with but one friend, Austria-Hungary a nation which was imploding domestically (and that’s a whole big post for another time) and had a military which would perform embarrassingly in the war.

In the process of the past 25 years Weltpolitik had effectively isolated Germany from the rest of the world and driven former enemies into allegiance together for the sole purpose of containing Germany. It had created clear political boundaries in the formation of two major power blocs — the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. That is why, ultimately, people say the war was “inevitable”. When you create two power blocs like that where one is created for the sole purpose of aggressive expansion (Germany colonially and A-H with respect to Serbia and the rest of the Balkans) and the other with the sole purpose of containing the other, war is nearly inevitable. Some may point to the Warsaw Pact vs NATO and say that never evolved to war and I’d say that’s not a fair comparison because nukes completely changes the formula. This is the Cold War without M.A.D. and nuclear bombs. Even with nuclear deterrent that is an incredibly dicey situation but when we’re just talking about the risk of conventional warfare that becomes a ticking time bomb. It was by no means inevitable and I wouldn’t say that but the conditions were set in such a perfect way that most people in Europe by the end of 1911 viewed a general continental European war as a reality and began preparing for one in a very serious manner.

[1] Scaremongers: Advocacy of War and Rearmament, 1896-1914, Anthony Morris.


The Western Front

According to an aggressive military strategy known as the Schlieffen Plan (named for its mastermind, German Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen), Germany began fighting World War I on two fronts, invading France through neutral Belgium in the west and confronting Russia in the east.

On August 4, 1914, German troops crossed the border into Belgium. In the first battle of World War I, the Germans assaulted the heavily fortified city of Liege, using the most powerful weapons in their arsenal—enormous siege cannons—to capture the city by August 15. The Germans left death and destruction in their wake as they advanced through Belgium toward France, shooting civilians and executing a Belgian priest they had accused of inciting civilian resistance. https://www.history.com/player/262310467709?autoplay=true


How long did it take for germany to conquer france

May 27: Nazi Germany takes the port city of Calais, France -- a mere 26 miles across the Channel from Dover, England. May 28: King Leopold III orders the surrender of the 500,000-man Belgian Army, an order that will lead to his deposition at the hands of the Belgian government, which is in exile in France The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War.On 3 September 1939 France had declared war on Germany, following the German invasion of Poland.In early September 1939, France began the limited Saar Offensive.By mid-October, the French had withdrawn to their start lines

Nazi Germany Conquers France: April 1940-December 1940

  1. On June 14, 1940, Parisians awaken to the sound of a German-accented voice announcing via loudspeakers that a curfew was being imposed for 8 p.m. that evenin
  2. How long did it take for germany to conquer france? Get the answers you need, now! 1. Log in. Join now. 1. Log in. Join now. Ask your question. livers2056 09/18/2017 History High School +5 pts. Answered How long did it take for germany to conquer france? 1 See answe
  3. While effective, these attacks were not some sort of paradigm shift using unheard-of concepts - they were basically what the British Army did in 1918 with upgraded equipment and more time to refine the concepts during peace (rather than having to make them up on the battlefield). In any case, it took Germany about 6 weeks to knock out France

The matter is written about in the classic best seller The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer (1959) beginning on page 713 of the big paperback edition of the book, where Mr. Shirer entitles it The Six Week War: May 10 - June 25, 1940 where he covers that victory from the first to the last, including the invasion of Belgium in order to go. . France signed an armistice in late June 1940, leaving Great Britain as the only country fighting Nazi Germany. Germany and collaborating authorities soon initiated anti-Jewish policies and laws in occupied western Europe France did not punish Germany with the treaty. The Treaty of Versailles was the punishment France and other countries doled out on Germany. It was an unfair treatment in the long run The invasion of Poland led Britain and France to declare war on Germany on 3 September. However, they did little to affect the outcome of the September Campaign. No declaration of war was issued by Britain and France against the Soviet Union. This lack of direct help led many Poles to believe that they had been betrayed by their Western allies Unable to conquer France outright, Germany became mired in a war on multiple fronts. failing to adapt their strategy to cope with the new situation, suddenly faced a long, drawn-out war on an entrenched front. Previous section Opening Moves Next page Germany's Assault on France page 2. Popular pages: World War I (1914-1919) Review Quiz.

Battle of France - Wikipedi

  1. Country populations circa 1940 France - 41M UK - 48M (not counting the colonies and protectorates) Germany - 70M USSR - 170M After Germany took over France, it attacked the UK for about 8 months from the air (killing about 40K people) and failed..
  2. Your question assumes that German victory was easy because it was quick, but there is a difference between easily and quickly. On October 14, 1806, France smashed Prussia in a single day in spite of Prussian numerical superiority. Actually, Fr..
  3. Though Germany eventually lost World War II and France again ended up on the victorious side, the leadership traits demonstrated before and during the battle in 1940 are textbook examples of what.
  4. On November 10, 1942, German troops occupy Vichy France, which had previously been free of an Axis military presence. Since July 1940, upon being invaded an
  5. However, France and Britain did not move to attack German troops and, on 13 September, France fell back behind the Maginot Line (a series of defensive fortifications on the French-German border)

Germany invades Paris - HISTOR

  • The Line was designed to keep German forces out of France. Initially, France and Great Britain appeared to be a match for Germany. However, in weeks in the late spring and early summer of 1940, it became clear that France was woefully unprepared for the German onslaught. France suffered a humiliating defeat and was quickly occupied by Germany
  • And the Germans did not have it all their own way, as French forces under Charles de Gaulle showed how vulnerable the flanks of the German forces were to bold counterattacks
  • ated in the liberation of Paris.. D-Day: 6 June 1944. That morning, 130,000 Allied troops landed on beaches across Normandy, dubbed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.The coastline was subjected to naval bombardment as over 4,000 landing.

How long did it take for germany to conquer france

Germany didn't want to fight a war on two front lines at the East and the West. The strategy of General Schlieffen was a design to remove France fromthe war, immediately, so that it cannot fight and it cannot host the British military that wanted to fight against Germany and the German armies can devote a full force against Russia at the East. FALL OF FRANCE Maginot Line After high causalities of WW1, France decided to take the defensive A new defence was built: The Maginot Line Concrete forts with machine gun posts, tank and artillery that were set up to protect and defend France from Germany in case of an attack Germany invaded Belgium on May 10 Main attack on France happened in the Ardennes (between German-Belgian-French border. There were two main ways in which Hitler (and the German military, which actually did the conquering) was able to conquer so much of Europe so quickly

The German armies also attacked the Netherlands in the south. There, Dutch troops blew up bridges to slow down the German advance. This did not always work out. Wehrmacht soldiers used a trick to conquer the strategically important Gennep railway bridge: dressed in Dutch uniforms, they overpowered the Dutch soldiers Germany invaded Poland on Sept 1, 1939 and the invasion officially ended on October 5, 1939. This comes to 5 weeks. It should be noted that Germany only conquered about half of Poland- the other. Attack on France. In France, people had shaken their heads in disbelief upon the announcement of a new war with Germany. This would be their third major war against the Germans in the last 70 years. Their grandfathers had fought the war of 1870-71, which the French had lost. Their fathers had fought the First World War from 1914-18. And now this As far as I know, the Romans did not conquer what is today, Central and Northern Germany, namely, the Saxon region or the area around Berlin. However, the Roman colonial presence within Southern Germany and especially Western Germany/The Rhineland, is well documented and in the cases of Cologne and especially Trier, there exists a well preserved Roman architectural legacy as well Most German officers hated the plan. Hitler did like it Halder (the military boss at the time, who'd been plotting against Hitler) thought privately that the attack on France was stupid, and that he'd rather pursue a plan that meant either quick success or quick defeat, instead of the northern plan which would mean a long war that he thought.

How long did it take Germany to conquer France during

  1. The armies of France and England were not ready for such tactics, which is why even France fell as fast as it did. These are the main reasons for Germany's ability to conquer so much so quickly.
  2. France and Britain did declare war on Germany two days after the invasion of Poland, but it would take them another eight months before they engaged in full-scale war with the Nazis
  3. istered by the empire
  4. Battle of France - Battle of France - The fall of France (June 5-25, 1940): By early June 1940 Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands had fallen, the British had been driven into the sea, and the Germans had taken more than one million Allied prisoners in the space of three weeks. The new French front along the Somme and the Aisne was dubbed the Weygand Line
  5. The Battle of France, also referred to as The Fall of France, was a battle that took place during the Second World War in May of 1940. German forces invaded areas of France pushing the British Forces (British Expeditionary Force BEF) and French forces (Dunkirk) back to the sea in Operation Dynamo
  6. H itler unleashes his blitzkrieg invasion of the Low Countries and France with a fury on May 10, 1940. (see Blitzkrieg, 1940) Within three weeks, a large part of the British force, accompanied by some of the French defenders, is pushed to the English Channel and compelled to abandon the continent at Dunkirk

How long did it take for the germans to conquer france

  1. Fanpop quiz: In WWII, how long did it take Germany to take control over France? - See if you can answer this Hetalia trivia question
  2. Fanpop quiz: In WWII, how long did it take Germany to take control over France? - See if anda can answer this Hetalia trivia question
  3. ফ্যানপপ quiz: In WWII, how long did it take Germany to take control over France? - See if আপনি can answer this হেটালিয়া trivia question
  4. How did Vichy France come to be? When France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, following the German invasion of Poland, the French military spent eight months watching and waiting for.
  5. The German government is set to partially close borders with France, Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Switzerland on Monday Over 1,000 new cases have been registered in Germany in the last 24 hour
  6. How did it take so long for countries like Germany and Britain to unify, I understand that Germany is very different from Mongolia, but how could a nation that is a powerful player in Europe, like Prussia or England, take so long to conquer lands much smaller than them, like Wales,.

. 1944 - Allied forces invade at Normandy pushing back the German Army. 1945 - The Germany army surrenders and World War II comes to an end in Europe. 1959 - Charles de Gaulle is elected the President of France. 1981 - Francois Mitterrand is elected president France in Defeat, 1940, EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2006). In reaction to the American invasion of North Africa in November 1942, the Germans occupied Vichy France. Following the Allied victory, Marshall Petain and his lieutenant Pierre Laval were tired for treason and sentenced to death To subscribe to future History Videos, please visit my new channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/HistorigraphFind other History Videos here: https://www.youtu..

German Invasion of Western Europe, May 1940 The

  • Built between 1930 and 1940, France's Maginot Line was a massive system of defenses that became famous for failing to stop a German invasion. While an understanding of the Line's creation is vital to any study of World War I, World War II, and the period in between, this knowledge is also helpful when interpreting a number of modern references
  • April 23, 1942 - German air raids begin against cathedral cities in Britain. May 8, 1942 - German summer offensive begins in the Crimea. May 26, 1942 - Rommel begins an offensive against the Gazala Line. May 27, 1942 - SS Leader Heydrich attacked in Prague
  • For the long-term stability of the international order, the most dangerous development was the rise to power in Nazi Germany of Adolf Hitler and his movement of fanatical nationalists. The National Socialist Party rejected the Versailles settlement, repudiated the international economy (which they associated with Jewish financial power), and called for the rearmament of Nazi Germany to conquer.
  • Yet Britain and France, despite having declared war on Germany in September 1939 following Hitler's attack on Poland, had seen little real fighting. This tense period of anticipation - which came to be known as the 'Phoney War' - met an abrupt end on 10 May 1940, when Germany launched an invasion of France and the Low Countries
  • What Countries Did Napoleon Conquer? Holland, much of Italy, Austria, much of Germany, Poland and Spain. France directly conquered or controlled through alliance most of western Europe by 1812. Driven by a desire to spread the French revolutionary principles throughout Europe,.
  • Germany was later split into two, East Germany and West Germany, in 1947 as a result of a defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. East Germany was a dictatorship state while West Germany exercised a parliamentary democracy. Reunification of Germany occurred in 1990 but on West Germany's terms
  • Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, starting World War II. After quickly conquering Poland, Fuehrer Adolf Hitler and the Nazi military leadership set their sights on Western Europe, particularly France and Britain. Two decades earlier, Germany fought France and the Western Allies in trenches in Belgium and northeastern France

As Germany finally settles its debt from World War I, the BBC's Olivia Lang looks at why it has taken so long to pay back Italy did join the war on June 10th 1940. Why? He feared that Germany might get all the spoils of war as she was completely successful up to this date. To Mussolini, it was only a matter of time before Britain surrendered and he saw Europe as rich for easy pickings. His nearest rival geographically, France, was on the verge of surrendering The deal between France and them was : on one side, African countries remain faithful to France (they support French international policy at the UN, are members of Francophonie countries, they sign no military treaty with another country like the US or Russia, they let no major foreign group challenge major French corporations) and on the other side, France will help them for stability and.

Austria-Hungary Did It! Russia Did It! Germany Did It! France Did It! Britain Is Responsible for Starting WWI! Verdict #2 Germany is mostly to blame but the other major powers contributed to the start of the war. Verdict #3 All the major powers are to blame as they are all equally responsible for the start of the war Verdict #4 No one is to blame Gaul Gaul (from the Latin Gallia) was the ancient name for an area roughly equivalent to modern France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany west of the Rhine.In Italy, the Po Valley was called Gallia Cisalpina (Gaul this side of the Alps) by the Romans. The Celts, whom the Romans called Galli (Gauls), began to cross the Rhine into Gaul c.900 BC and by the 5th century BC had established a. 1. Russia's large but backwards army would take months to mobilize 2. Belgium could be intimidated into allowing Germany to pass through without opposition 3. France would surrender if Paris was taken 4. Britain wouldn't send their army in time to save France 5. Germany was strong enough to defeat any ONE opponent with eas

When did France fall to the Germans how long did it take

  • As long as our decisions about where and how we loosen restrictions accord with clear and sensible criteria, we trust that German citizens will support them. Our decisions should be driven by evidence and emphasize reducing the risk of infection. We know that social distancing is the most effective protection
  • After German troops invaded Poland in September 1939, Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany. Despite this, there were no major battles between the three countries for several months, the so-called Sitzkrieg or phony war. That changed drastically with the German invasion of France in May 1940
  • Yet, how long does dhl express shipping take? This specific express delivery service will take about 3 to 5 days in order to send the package to its destination. Aside of that, this service can force to wait for the package a little bit more if there is the shipping space arrangement, which is done for 2 to 7 days, the courier has to do when the peak period of logistic happens
  • France: After the war, France did to Algeria and Vietnam what Germany wanted to do to France Very few rebellions by Jews, who were mostly obedient All of Europe: Poland was the only country in which very few people collaborated with the German occupation troops and from the beginning there was a strong anti-Nazi resistance movemen
  • How long it takes to learn German is really up to you. The more time you invest in daily practice, the faster you will see progress. If you're able to travel to Germany or submerse yourself in German culture in some other way, that can help you to learn faster too
  • Germany's economy and infrastructure was totally decimated following World War II, each to be governed by one of the Allied Powers and France. The goal was to treat Germany as a single economic zone, but trade issues necessitated that the Western and Eastern zones of the country be considered separately

Here Is The Long Route Many Refugees Take To Travel From Syria To Germany One of the most common routes for those fleeing the war-torn nation involves moving across seven countries by foot, boat. Being aware of bank cut-off times is important in terms of assessing how long it will take for receipt of your transfer request and for your transfer to be initiated. All banks have a cut off time each day for receipt of payment and transfer instructions, so the earlier a transfer instruction is made the sooner the payment will be processed Canada's overseas overseas allies had fallen and/or were in danger of doing so (after the fall of France in 1940). Canada was apart of the British Commonwealth, and had been under British command for very long. There was a risk of attack from Germany if Britain could not hold their ground He said don't occupy a country without disarming it, which is what the US did when it occupied Germany and Japan. He said disarm a country after conquering it, just like we do. The thing he wanted to conquer was France. Germany was confiscating everything from the Jews by 1938 - property, bank accounts, whatever

Invasion of Poland - Wikipedi

A lingua franca is a common language used in international communication. English is the world's lingua franca today, but how did it get to be that way How long does it take to get from Paris to Germany? It takes approximately 4h 16m to get from Paris to Germany, including Flixbus serves 2000+ destinations in 29 countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Croatia and into Scandinavia and eastern Europe, as well as some US cities Hitler did not invade Sweden because he did not want to waste valuable troops in Scandinavia when he had other concerns. The Swedes proved their neutrality by not letting Germany use Swedish airspace: when the Germans flew over Sweden to attack Norway, the Swedes fired back with anti-aircraft guns Truth be told, though, the reactionaries of 1814-1815 did their job better, preserving a longer peace, than did the liberals of 1919. There was general agreement that Germany should be disarmed, but to what degree—especially given the Bolshevik menace—was a matter of heated debate Once France had fallen, again there was little reason to attack Sweden, but there was a similar rush to consolidate eastern European countries before moving on Russia in 1941. A common criticism of what Germany did was their effort to help Italy in Africa, which delayed the invasion of Russia

World War I (1914-1919): Germany's Assault on France

Conquer definition is - to gain or acquire by force of arms : subjugate. How to use conquer in a sentence. Synonym Discussion of conquer Germany. A married couple with one or two children - that is the average German family. But family models are becoming more diverse: According to the latest Family Report, Germany had around eight million families with children below the age of 18 in 2015. Though the majority of parents are married (5.5 million), it is no longer uncommon for unmarried couples to live together (843,000)

Standard delivery times vary depending on what you're mailing and how far it's going. Find the delivery standards for different types of mail Check out Squarespace for a free trial at https://www.squarespace.com/armchairhistorian and use the code 'ARMCHAIR' for 10% off your first purchase. Ironside..

Camille Chevalier-Karfis. Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 23+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language How Long Does it Take to Learn French From Scratch? If you don't have past experience with a romance langauge, fear not. You can still learn French quickly and efficiently, as long as you put in the effort. Learning a romance language for the first time will require some baseline language review, like past tense and subject verb agreement How long does a wire transfer take? At best, expect the following transfer times for domestic and international transfers. Domestic wire transfer speed - Within 24 hours is possible, particularly for transfers between accounts at the same bank. International wire transfer speed - Between two and five business days, perhaps longer depending on various factors Germany's spending on health care is relatively high, just over 11% of its wealth, compared to 9.8% in the UK and it has more doctors and hospital beds per patient than the UK Stunningly, while Germany lost 2 million men while unsuccessfully trying to take France in the previous war, this modern German army achieved it with a fraction of the lives lost. German soldiers move through a burning Norwegian village, in April 1940, during the German invasion

Photos: the town of Caen in 1944 (left) more than 2,000 German prisoners of war and French volunteers died clearing France's fields of millions of landmines after the war (right). The France. What Wehn means by that is that the 19th-century German chancellor, who presided over a vast and recently unified people, decided not to emulate Britain, Spain and France in their imperial land grabs Passive - to spectate, i.e. not take part in the action, e.g. Britain and France were passive towards the German remilitarization of the Rhineland (March 1936) Incite - devious planning, e.g. Hitler incited the Anschluss (March, 1938) Causes of the Second World War (Summary) Long term, Short term and Immediate Causes Long ter Stalin 'planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed pact' Stalin was 'prepared to move more than a million Soviet troops to the German border to deter Hitler's. World War one started on the 28th of July 1914 between two sides triple alliance and the triple entente. It ended on the 11th of November 1918. Difference in policies were to blame, although th

Nor did Hitler have especially original ideas the German Workers' Party he joined in 1919, which would become the Nazi Party under his leadership, was just one of approximately 70 right-wing. France Spain Italy Europe how long did it take to travel the world 100 the German geographer who created isochronic maps for smaller areas of land as well as maps for different. France is a semi-presidential republic with a head of government - the prime minister - appointed by the president who is the directly elected head of state. France's territory consists of 18 administrative regions - 13 metropolitan (i.e. European France) and 5 overseas regions Hitler's background. Despite trying to depict himself otherwise in Mein Kampf, Hitler's youth was not one of privation, but one of the adequate means afforded to his father, a minor customs official.Hitler (born 1889) was confirmed a Roman Catholic at his mother's wish on Whit Sunday 1904 at the Cathedral at Linz, one year following the death of his father

German politicians expected that, in the event of war, France and Russia would support each other against Germany. That would lead to a war on two fronts, dividing Germany's military resources. To avoid that situation, Schlieffen planned to attack France first, while Russia was still mobilizing Other articles where History of France is discussed: France: History: Gaul, in this context, signifies only what the Romans, from their perspective, termed Transalpine Gaul (Gallia Transalpina, or Gaul Across the Alps). Broadly, it comprised all lands from the Pyrenees and th 18th century sailing times between the English Channel and the Coast of America: How long did it take? Coronavirus reopening. Visitor notice: Royal Museums Greenwich will be closed from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December in line with government guidelines Did you know that France hosted NATO for a total of 15 years? And although it withdrew from NATO's military structure in 1966, France was still a fully-fledged member of the Alliance. How did that work in practice? What was France's role within an Alliance of and many other throughout the Cold War period? Before long, the police and the as the vast majority of them did. German bureaucracy was famously punctilious, then, after the defeat of Poland in 1939 and France in 1940,.

.Most Western scholars agree that the majority of the rapes were committed by Soviet servicemen, while some Russian historians maintain that these crimes were not widespread After President Obama's recent visit to Hiroshima, my heart was warmed to see how much Japan and America's relationship has grown from bitter enemies to great friends. While there are, of course, hard-liners in both countries that try to continue fanning the flames of hatred, much of the wounds inflicted by histories greatest and most terrible war have, for the most part, healed considerably

Why was Germany able to conquer France using Blitzkrieg

  • Adolf Hitler considered education to be a very important factor in Nazi Germany.When he wrote 'Mein Kampf' while serving out a prison sentence at Landsberg, Hitler wrote whoever has the youth has the future. In Hitler's Germany, education would be the key that ensured that he had the youth of Germany
  • The best way to get from Germany to England is to fly which takes 4h 7m and costs 70€ - 250€. Alternatively, you can train via Cologne, which costs 230€ - 700€ and takes 11h 4m, you could also bus, which costs 60€ - 95€ and takes 25h 2m. Mode detail
  • Kids of expats moving to Germany can start anytime during the school year. Come and visit our director, Mr. Frank van Poucke, at our school in Frankfurt. He will be happy to show you around and answer all your questions, including what it means to feels like family at Fintosch, how we incorporate German and English 50/50 into our curriculum, and our creative approach to teaching our.
  • Latest travel advice for Germany, including how to stay safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and information on returning to the UK
  • The non-official estimate on 'How long it takes to learn French' A study by the US Department of State's Foreign Service Institute shows that it took adult native English speakers 600 classroom hours to achieve the DLPT level 3 (around a CEFR C1 or C2) for Group I languages (Spanish, French, Portuguese), and 2,200 hours for Group IV languages (Chinese, Korean, Arabic)

Germany did not reach its ceiling back then. The RKI now believes that its laboratories can produce up to 500,000 tests per week. According to a strategy paper by the German government, their goal. The path to becoming a lawyer in Germany can be a long process that easily takes seven years or more. Since Germany is a federal state, the system of how to become a lawyer can differ from state to state. However, the federal legislator has set a framework within which the states and the universities can shape their law programs Westend61/Getty Images. Take the whole family on Germany's Castle Road (Burgenstraße) and see as many castles as possible in the least amount of time.. The 625-miles scenic long route, which starts in Mannheim and leads you all the way to Prague in the Czech Republic. It is lined with more than 70 castles and palaces If you want to retire in Germany as an American, you won't be alone. A New York Times article cites figures ranking Germany fourth in the world for the number of Americans who retire there. Out.

How did Germany defeat France so easily during World War

Germany's economy continued to decline and this helped increase party membership. By the fall of 1923, over 20,000 people were members of the Nazi Party. Despite Hitler's success, other politicians within Germany did not respect him. Soon, Hitler would take action that they could not ignore Do nothing but infantry divisions. You need as many divisions as possible as fast as possible, armor takes too long to build. Cavalry divisions will serve fine in place of tanks. Blitz Paris when Germany has them distracted. Germany vs France happened in 1937 for me, because all my warmongering forced France's hands. leave Germany to deal with.

The Super Simple Reason Nazi Germany Crushed France During

B. If you are coming from another country, you are strongly recommended to present a negative test result, carried out less than 72 hours before departure, upon your arrival in France.If you do not have this result, you will have to take a test at your airport of arrival. In all cases, the usual travel restrictions apply (visas, duration of stay, etc.) Retiring in Germany has plenty of perks for expats, with great healthcare and a high standard of living. This guide explains what to arrange for retirement in Germany. While Germany has long been an attractive country for working expats, retiring in Germany is still a fairly new idea unlike in nearby countries such as France, Spain, and Portugal

Germany Tourism: Tripadvisor has 8,980,962 reviews of Germany Hotels, Attractions, and Restaurants making it your best Germany resource German Visa and Residence Permit Requirements for US Citizens Der Aufenthaltserlaubnis - Residence Permit The United States of America is one of the nations for which the Federal Republic of Germany has special regulations concerning entry visas and residence permits. ALSO SEE: How to Immigrate to Germany - with residence permit categories and guidelines Some small businesses will reopen on April 20 while schools will begin to gradually reopen on May 4. Most businesses have been closed in Germany since March 16, limiting economic life to grocery. Germany (called The German Empire under an Absolute Monarchy or Prussian Constitutionalism government) played an important role in global events during the later part of Victoria II's period and can easily become the most powerful nation in the game. There is a small catch though. It did not exist in 1836, nor in 1861, when the game begin When you get home, just show your family and friends the photo. Words are no longer needed because the photo will speak for itself. 5. Do ride the metro at night and take the bus occasionally. Another must-do in France is to take a ride on the metro ideally at night when the views are majestic and the city is sparkling with its lights The franc (/ f r æ ŋ k / French: sign: F or Fr), also commonly distinguished as the French franc (FF), was a currency of France.Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money. It was reintroduced (in decimal form) in 1795.After two centuries of inflation, it was revalued in 1960, with each new.


The Central Powers Win WWI.

Been pondering how to make this work and I've got a few ideas.

One obvious POD would be if Germany never provokes the US into entering the war and I have an idea how to avoid this.

In 1915 Erich von Falkenhayn launched a series of deliberately non-decisive operations aimed only at improving the situation in various theaters of war, crushing Serbia and pushing back Russia and Italy but he didn't even have a plan which could actually win the war. When he did come up with one, the concept of a bloodletting to break the French at Verdun not only failed but somehow missed the point that when facing the combined manpower of the French and British empires, plus various allies, a slugging match aimed at only one of the Allies on the Western Front was unlikely to work.

Now, if he had countered traditional German thought that Russia was too big to be knocked out of the war first. given a change in the military situation it follows that a change in military planning would follow.


The biggest problem remains the diplomatic field. It is hard to find anything positive to say about German diplomacy during the war. The method of negotiating with individual members of the Entente, accepting that if the Entente held together Germany was likely doomed, then making demands which were increasingly undeserved instead of a generous peace which, if accepted by one key player, might permit Germany to actually win the war. less than sensible and this remained the standard throughout the war.

As for German diplomacy towards neutrals, Germany gained the support of Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire effectively forced to join the Central Powers by the Entente, but many neutrals would join with the Entente instead. The Zimmerman Telegram may summarize German diplomacy, whereby Germany diplomats deliberately embarked on a series of actions all but certain to bring the US into the war.

As a result, this scenario presents the problem of requiring a diplomatic sense of wisdom which, in all honesty, runs entirely contrary to the actual record. Still, I'll start trying to find a way for what would have to be a radical shift in German diplomatic thought.

Usertron2020

Schlieffen plan works?

Been pondering how to make this work and I've got a few ideas.

One obvious POD would be if Germany never provokes the US into entering the war and I have an idea how to avoid this.

In 1915 Erich von Falkenhayn launched a series of deliberately non-decisive operations aimed only at improving the situation in various theaters of war, crushing Serbia and pushing back Russia and Italy but he didn't even have a plan which could actually win the war. When he did come up with one, the concept of a bloodletting to break the French at Verdun not only failed but somehow missed the point that when facing the combined manpower of the French and British empires, plus various allies, a slugging match aimed at only one of the Allies on the Western Front was unlikely to work.

Now, if he had countered traditional German thought that Russia was too big to be knocked out of the war first. given a change in the military situation it follows that a change in military planning would follow.


The biggest problem remains the diplomatic field. It is hard to find anything positive to say about German diplomacy during the war. The method of negotiating with individual members of the Entente, accepting that if the Entente held together Germany was likely doomed, then making demands which were increasingly undeserved instead of a generous peace which, if accepted by one key player, might permit Germany to actually win the war. less than sensible and this remained the standard throughout the war.

As for German diplomacy towards neutrals, Germany gained the support of Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire effectively forced to join the Central Powers by the Entente, but many neutrals would join with the Entente instead. The Zimmerman Telegram may summarize German diplomacy, whereby Germany diplomats deliberately embarked on a series of actions all but certain to bring the US into the war.

As a result, this scenario presents the problem of requiring a diplomatic sense of wisdom which, in all honesty, runs entirely contrary to the actual record. Still, I'll start trying to find a way for what would have to be a radical shift in German diplomatic thought.

Riain

The Schlieffen Plan was logistically unsound. During WW1 it was shown time and again that the practical limit for supply with existing technology was 100 miles. By the time of the Marne the Germans had been beyond 100 miles of the nearest (leapfrogging forward) railheads for close to a month. They got away with it because much of the French Army was attacking the left wing, so the right wing could live off the land and didn't use huge amounts of ammo.

My personal favourite idea for CP victory is the Germans winning the Race to the Sea and holding the Pas de Calais/Cap Griz Nez from 1914. This is achievable with German forces in the west in 1914, it would probably be the unintended outcome of reinforcing the right wing instead of the OTL failed left wing offensives. The result would be the British would have to spend the first could of years gaining supremecy over the Germans in the Dover strait and French channel coast instead of building up a 65 division BEF. This would allow the Germans to focus on Russia in 1915 and 16 instead of Verdun and the Somme.

Paul V McNutt

Grimm Reaper

My idea involves Germany going on the defensive in the West, allowing the British and French to enjoy all the joys of charging trenches, while making a supreme effort which forces Russia out of the war by the middle of 1916.

This in turn causes a triumphant Germany, with victory in sight, to become more reasonable with the other Entente members, seeing the gains they want in the east in place of the colonies overseas which were all(bar Nauru) a fiscal loss and which they probably can't get back. It especially convinces Germany to not attempt unrestricted submarine warfare.

Perhaps I'll have a brief scene where Admiral Tirpitz demands to be allowed to release the u-boats, after which he is forced into retirement for being so crazed as to demand the one move(bringing the US in) which might save the war for the Entente?

Chain reaction follows and after Italy loses Venice and effectively withdraws from the war(Greece and Romania never entering) the remaining Entente see no choice but to yield to a sensible, even generous, peace offer.

One problem is convincing even myself that Germany's government was remotely capable of effectively forfeiting any gains in the west.


Or perhaps I should just present the CP triumph as a done deal and move on to the peace settlement of 1917?

Of course there will be clouds on the horizon, especially the crisis in post-war Russia which gives Great Britain the unhappy choice of which alliances to be break.


The Berlin Wall: everything you need to know

It is just over 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany’s concrete solution to the mass haemorrhaging of its citizens to the west across the open border of West Berlin at the height of the Cold War. For 28 years following the fateful border closure on Sunday 13 August 1961, the edifice which inspired the novels of John le Carré and Len Deighton had become a fixture in the Cold War landscape, threatening death to any daring to cross it.

Why was the Berlin Wall built?

In the 1950s, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – that part of Germany which had been the Soviet Occupation Zone in the post-WW2 division of Germany – was threatening to bleed dry, as one in six people fled, usually in search of work under West Germany’s ’economic miracle’ (but in some cases fleeing political or religious persecution). The GDR desperately wanted to halt this so-called ‘brain-drain’, so in August 1961 the East German communists were given the go-ahead by Moscow to close the border and build a physical barrier. The fact that the west did not officially recognise the so-called ‘GDR’, coupled with the risks of escalation, meant that the decision could only come from the Kremlin.

The Berlin Wall turned the usual function of walls – to keep people out – on its head this wall was solely to keep its citizens in.

What was life like in East Berlin before the Wall? What events led to the Wall being built?

In 1952 East Germany had sealed its mainland border to West Germany, along the river Elbe and in the mountains of the Harz, with barbed wire and fire zones (where all vegetation was cut back within 100m of the border to allow guards an unencumbered field of fire). But there was an unpluggable leak in the centre of the GDR, in the four-power city of Berlin, whose three western sectors were still protected by the US, Britain and France under post-war agreements which Moscow was unwilling to flout.

The Soviets had already tried to force the Western powers out during the Blockade of 1948–49 but were foiled by the famous Anglo-American airlift. The communists closed the sector boundary temporarily after the abortive insurrection in East Germany in June 1953, but within weeks it was open again.

So, throughout the 1950s East Germans could simply walk across from East to West Berlin. Underground trains still rumbled below. Once across East Germans, who might otherwise have feared being stopped at the overland border, could fly over it from Tempelhof in the US sector out to the Federal Republic.

Day-trippers could come and visit the neon delights of West Berlin, buying the latest records and maybe even a pair of jeans, before disappearing back east. By 1961 there were also around 60,000 so-called Grenzgänger, Cold War commuters who lived in one half of the city and worked in the other, many of them women members of the ‘scrubbing-brush brigade’, working the grey economy for a few hard deutschmarks. Some young East Germans had even learnt to play the border, for instance young men targeted for military service, who ‘contaminated’ themselves with a short stay in the west.

West Berlin was also the base for dozens of Western espionage agencies, exploiting its position behind the Iron Curtain. The CIA and Britain’s SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) appeared in the mid-1950s to have pulled off one of the Cold War’s biggest signals intelligence coups with their eavesdropping tunnel under the sector boundary to tap Soviet cable traffic, until it was revealed that the KGB, the Soviet Union’s intelligence agency, had known all along through their MI6 super-mole, George Blake.

Western intelligence also interviewed thousands of defectors arriving at the Marienfelde transit camp. Little did they know that one of their own German associates, Götz Schlicht, was a Stasi double-agent – no wonder Berlin became known as the city of spies and counter-spies! When the leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev threatened the four-power status of the city with his famous Ultimatum in 1958 – which gave the western powers six months to vacate the city before turning it over to the East Germans as part of their rightful capital – the west, and the US in particular, dug in their heels once again. By 1961 the new US president, John F Kennedy, was even threatening nuclear retaliation if West Berlin were touched.

The GDR had therefore run out of ‘territorial’ options to stop the brain-drain by 1961. The Volkspolizei could not pull every suspected defector off trains headed for Berlin the Stasi could not investigate every tip-off and it was clear that West Berlin would not be negotiated off the geopolitical map. A more simple but drastic solution was needed. At a press conference in June East German leader Walter Ulbricht famously reassured journalists that “no-one has the intention to build a wall”. Whether this was a Freudian slip (no correspondent had asked about a wall!) or a Machiavellian ploy to encourage a stampede for the exit, it had the desired effect. To halt the exodus that was filling western transit camps to capacity, the East German communists were finally permitted by Moscow to close the border in August 1961 and build a physical barrier.

What was the Berlin Wall made from?

In a top-secret operation, observing radio silence, East German police and militia established a human cordon all along the margins of West Berlin. East German troops formed a second echelon and Soviet army units a third. Assured by their Stasi forward observers in West Berlin that the western military presence would not react, the border forces went from erecting provisional wire-mesh fences to a more solid breeze-block wall, topped with barbed wire.

Western commentators, including West Berlin’s mayor Willy Brandt, immediately drew parallels with Nazi concentration camps. The early wooden guard towers looked all-too like something from the recent past. Indeed, Willi Seifert, commander of the GDR’s interior troops tasked with erecting the barrier, had himself been a concentration camp inmate under the Nazis.

The GDR portrayed it as a border that saved the peace, even filming spy dramas such as For Eyes Only (1963) which tried to convince eastern viewers that NATO had been planning a pre-emptive strike on East Germany. Few were convinced. When US President Kennedy visited the Wall that year he was visibly shocked, changing parts of his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech at the last minute to underline the west’s bleak view of the ‘Wall of shame’.

How long was the Berlin Wall?

All told, the border installations around West Berlin zig-zagged for 163 kilometres, or just over 100 miles. Around 100km of this was covered by an actual wall, mainly at the inner-city interface, with another 50 or more kilometres made up of heavy wire mesh around West Berlin’s green border with the Brandenburg countryside. Mines were sown in the ground or strung along certain sections of fencing, not removed until the 1980s.

The remainder of the border was made up of existing cemetery walls or house facades, including the sinister bricked-up windows along the Bernauer Straße. In the mid-1960s the structure was modernised, and received an anti-grip tube along its top, before becoming the final ‘Border Wall 75’ in the mid-1970s, when a series of L-shaped, pre-fabricated monoliths regularised its appearance. At 3.6 metres tall, it had been scientifically demonstrated by a troop of East German army athletes to be unscalable and unvaultable without artificial assistance.

Listen to Hester Vaizey explore how the fall of the Berlin Wall affected East Germans:

How many people were killed trying to cross the Wall?

The Berlin Wall claimed the lives of at least 140 people. The first was 58-year old Ida Siekmann, who died on 22 August 1961 after jumping from a third-storey window in the famous Bernauer Straße, whose house-fronts constituted the border. Two days later, 24-year old Günter Litfin was machine-gunned in the waters of the inner-city docks now overlooked by Berlin’s main railway station.

The most public incident occurred on 17 August 1962 when two teenage East Berlin boys sprinted across no-man’s land near a border crossing-point nicknamed Checkpoint Charlie. One made it over, but 18-year old Peter Fechter was shot in the back and collapsed. Western photographers leaned over, calling on guards to rescue the unfortunate teen, but he was left to bleed out at the foot of the Wall, the guards apparently afraid of retaliatory fire from the west.

Yet not all escapes were such clear-cut tragedies. One would-be escaper had been a part-time Stasi informer who missed his good times in the west. Failing a consolation entrance exam into the secret police, Werner Probst then decided to leave once and for all. Slipping into the River Spree one night in October 1961, close to the iconic Oberbaum Bridge, he was picked out in the water by a searchlight and shot just short of the far bank.

Another nocturnal fire-fight three years later involved a tunnel that had been dug from West Berlin into a back yard on the far side. (Visitors to the Berlin Wall Memorial today can trace its path marked in the former no-man’s land.) Tunnellers had emerged inside an outside lavatory which offered convenient cover: 57 escapers ‘went’ but never returned. But their luck could not hold forever. Alerted by Stasi informants, armed border troops arrived, and in the ensuing confrontation one guard, Egon Schultz, was caught in the crossfire, hit in the shoulder by a West Berlin escape helper’s pistol and in the chest by a comrade’s Kalashnikov rifle. Only after the Cold War did it emerge that he had been killed by friendly fire. Indeed, over half of the 25 border guards killed at the border were shot by their own side.

The last people killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall were Chris Gueffroy, shot in February 1989, and Winfried Freudenberg, whose homemade hot-air balloon came to grief a month later. Yet far more persons escaped than were killed at the Berlin Wall. In the early sixties, escapers jumped from rooftops, abseiled from windows, burst through the Wall in improvised armoured trucks and steam locomotives, and hijacked ferries. But the numbers escaping dwindled from the thousands in the early 1960s to a handful each year by the 1980s. Yet, even in 1988 there were still around half a dozen escape attempts each month, more than half of which were successful, usually involving guards defecting, building workers exploiting repairs on the ‘front line’, or civilians using ingenious collapsible ladders to defeat the wall.

What does the graffiti on the Berlin Wall mean?

The Berlin Wall’s smooth surface became beloved of western graffiti artists who fought running battles with border guards’ whitewashings. New York hip hop-inspired artist Keith Haring became a coveted spray artist Frenchman Thierry Noir specialised in colourful, primitivist Wall art.

For some former East German dissidents, however, such graffiti trivialised or aestheticised the Wall, leading one group of masked vigilantes to paint a white ‘delete’ line through the DayGlo, until they were seized by a border guard snatch squad through one of the secret doors built into the Wall. (Many forgot to their cost that the five metres on the western side of the Wall also belonged to East Berlin!) Other artists employed elaborate trompe l’oeil effects to camouflage the concrete behind, and countless thousands of tourists signed and dated their presence at the Wall or declared their undying love to their significant other in felt-tip pen.

What was life like on either side of the Wall?

Enclosed West Berlin became something of a mad, bad playground, attracting drop-outs and avant-gardists, who could enjoy a frisson of Cold War danger (but with little actual danger). “We can be heroes”, sang David Bowie, in a song composed at the Hansa recording studio overlooking the Wall in Kreuzberg, where Bowie was neighbours with his partner-in-crime, Iggy Pop, but “just for one day”. Uli Edel’s semi-documentary Christiane F. (1981) gives a good sense of the seedy urban chic of 1970s West Berlin around its drug scene at the Bahnhof Zoo, or Ian Walker’s Zoo Station (1987) documents one journalist’s frenetic travels back and forth through the Cold War looking-glass.

The Wall maintained its lure to the alienated as some late Cold War westerners no longer thought that the west was necessarily the best. Punk band the Sex Pistols found their nihilistic match in it. In ‘Holidays in the Sun’, John Lydon engaged the eastern guards in an existential staring competition, threatening, in an act of paranoid Cold War paradox, to go “over the Berlin Wall, before they come over the Berlin Wall”.

On the eastern side of the Wall, East Berlin punks were complaining of “too much future”. The communist state still claimed to be exercising tough love for the common good. Living standards had risen by the mid-1960s, as the GDR was able to stabilise its workforce. East Berliners could be visited for the first time by West Berlin relatives at Christmas in 1963, but the eastern authorities were taking no chances and tailed incomers with mass surveillance teams. Yet, western visitors noticed a certain defensive pride among East Germans, who did not want to be patronised by ‘Besser-Wessis’ from the so-called ‘Golden West’.

Freedom of travel remained an issue, however. Holiday destinations within the eastern bloc began to shrink in the 1980s, when Poland became a no-go destination as the Solidarity movement blossomed there [a social movement that embodied the struggle against communism and Soviet domination, and ultimately helped lead to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe], followed by Russia under glasnost [Soviet policy of open discussion of political and social issues instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev which began the democratisation of the Soviet Union].

Many of the ambitious thirty-somethings, who back in the 1950s would have moved out and up in West Germany, felt blocked within the rigid hierarchies of “real existing socialism” behind walls. Certain goods such as cars and telephones always remained in short supply with waiting lists of up to 10 years – unimaginable in the instant-gratification west. Exotic fruits such as tangerines were reserved for Christmas only, and jokes circulated about why the banana was curved (because for 28 years it had to make a detour around the GDR…).

What events led to the Berlin Wall being torn down?

Things deteriorated in the 1980s. An energy crisis was about to engulf the eastern bloc, as Russia insisted on payment for its oil in hard currency. The advent of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 also posed a political reform challenge to the hard-line leadership under Erich Honecker. When Politburo member Kurt Hager pronounced that if a neighbour changed their wallpaper one did not need to follow suit, it became clear how out of touch the party leadership were becoming.

Iain MacGregor revisits some of the most dramatic events associated with the history of the Cold War barrier, the Berlin Wall:

What really accelerated the unravelling of the GDR, however, was the dismantling of the Iron Curtain elsewhere, on the border between Hungary and Austria in the late spring of 1989. A loophole was created which led to a renewed exodus, that was then hastily blocked again. But the genie was out of the bottle. Hopeful East German emigrants began to camp out in West German embassies across the eastern bloc. Demonstrations by would-be leavers also started inside the country, focused on the city of Leipzig, where regular Monday prayer meetings at the Nikolaikirche church took on an increasingly dissident hue.

Even more dangerous to the GDR were the Hierbleiber, those determined to “stay here” and change the Workers’-and-Peasants’-State from within. Crunch-time occurred on 9 October 1989, when Leipzig’s security forces held back from a physical confrontation with the 70,000 demonstrators. East Germans had lost their fear. The GDR’s 40th birthday celebrations that month continued to be disrupted by mass counter-demonstrations wishing to see not the flourishing, but the end of state socialism.

On 9 November 1989, however, upheaval degenerated into farce. A rudderless East German regime was about to commit one of history’s greatest miscommunications. Battered by mass demonstrations, the party Central Committee had resigned en masse that day, but attempted one final act of damage limitation: citizens would be allowed to apply for passports for travel to the west for the first time in 28 years. But what had been designed as a delaying tactic, tying up citizens in red tape, turned into a stampede for the exit.

At a now famous press conference, the party’s press spokesman, Günter Schabowski, who had not been fully briefed, read out the new dispensation, but when asked by foreign correspondents when this came into effect he looked uncertain, then shrugged: “immediately?” West German early evening news bulletins, all avidly consumed by East German viewers, announced that the Wall was open by midnight tens of thousands of East Berliners had swamped the border checkpoints whose Stasi guards realised that the game was up. The Berlin Wall had fallen.

What remains of the Berlin Wall today? What does it look like?

The Wall disappeared with unseemly haste. It was dismantled by the border troops who had built it, with the help of heavy-lifting equipment from Britain’s Royal Engineers garrisoned in West Berlin. Initially, small sections were lifted out to create makeshift checkpoints. Some monoliths with particularly eye-catching Wall art were even auctioned at Monte Carlo in June 1990 in order to raise cash for a new East Berlin mayoralty seeking new revenue streams. Much was ground up for aggregate.

Today, visitors can see a long section of the eastern Wall at East Side Gallery, where international artists were invited in 1990 to decorate it with a series of frescoes. The most authentic section is to be found at Bernauer Straße, where the official monument to the Wall is located. Visitors can peep through the hinterland wall at the rear to see the so-called ‘death strip’ of raked sand and the paraphernalia of total control, including a guard tower and fluorescent lighting which could allegedly be seen from space as a halo around the western half of the city.

But there is also the hustle and bustle of Checkpoint Charlie where tourists can visit the slightly eccentric Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, filled with escape memorabilia, including even the white line jack-hammered out of the roadway at the famous intersection between two worlds, at which US tanks in 1961 had played chicken with their Soviet counterparts.

Yet, as with much of the Cold War, all is not what it seems. The military checkpoint hut is not real, but a replica of the one from 1961. And for a Euro or two you can be photographed next to an actor in period uniform. The Cold War, in these uncertain times, seems to be making a come-back.

What is the significance of the Berlin Wall today?

The Berlin Wall was almost unique in that it was designed to keep people in. Conversely, the so-called ‘peace walls’ built in Belfast after 1969 were made to keep sectarian communities apart for fear of rioting the Israeli separation barrier was built to keep out a terrorist threat and Donald Trump’s Mexican wall (or is it a fence?) is supposed to keep out illegal economic migrants from south of the border. Walls that keep in their own populations, however, soon fall foul of the human rights enshrined in the United Nations, including, crucially, freedom of movement.

Already in the 1960s the East German regime had realised that it was now dealing with a captive audience, with no safety-valve of exit to the west, and so had to make some concessions for co-existence with its citizenry. In 1973, when the GDR was admitted to the UN, it found itself trapped into a liberalisation which had already created many humanitarian ‘holes’ in the Wall before 1989.

In the longer perspective, the history of the Berlin Wall shows that walls do not work. In the age of electronic media, East Germans were still connected to an outside world – including by the BBC whose radio broadcasts and mountains of listeners’ letters from East Germans are preserved at Reading-Caversham. The Wall itself simply became a lightning conductor of discontent. The physical separation of two Germanies for a generation certainly left its mark: speech patterns and even body language were different. East German teens’ use of the intensifier ‘urst’ – meaning ‘mega’ – completely mystified westerners, as well as a party jargon which described flags as Winkelemente or ‘wave elements’. Western brashness was seen by easterners as symptomatic of the Ellenbogengesellschaft or ‘elbow-ahead society’, which could not quite get the hang of queuing. It was former mayor of West Berlin, then chancellor of the Federal Republic, Willy Brandt, who maintained nonetheless that “what belongs together will grow together”. This claim has perhaps proved the most optimistic since 1989.

It is noticeable that the alt-right Alternative für Deutschland has in 2019 been polling best in the eastern states of the former East Germany, areas which still feel left behind since unification in 1990 and fear what they see as Islamist inundation. But the European Union’s steadfast defence of the principles of freedom of movement in the face of Brexit is certainly also a legacy of the Cold War. Angela Merkel herself grew up and worked behind the Berlin Wall and the view from her office window must remind her every day where it once stood, just yards away.

Patrick Major is professor of modern history at the University of Reading and author of Behind the Berlin Wall: East Germany and the Frontiers of Power (OUP, 2009) and ‘Listening behind the Curtain: BBC Broadcasting to East Germany and its Cold War Echo’, Cold War History (2013)


Newfoundland Memorial, Gueudecourt

12 October 1916 The Caribou here commemorates the Newfoundland Battalion. This battalion had probably suffered more losses in its attack, on Beaumont Hamel, on 1 July than any other battalion, and was still on the Somme at the battle's end, capturing a nearby trench on 12 October. This was the scene of the last burst of fighting on the Somme, officially the Battle of Transloy Ridges, on 7-20 October. By this time the weather had broken and there was a sea of mud behind the British trenches frost bite and trench foot were running at about 1000 cases per week.

Now The Thiepval memorial, which stands on the 1 July front line, is visible to the west. Getting from Thiepval to this spot, now a 15 minute drive, had cost the British army over 400,000 men killed, wounded and missing. Just south of the village is the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) which contains 3,450 graves, nearly two-thirds of which are unknown soldiers. Buried there is Second Lieutenant Ernest Shephard of the Dorsetshire Regiment whose diaries were published as A Sergeant Major's War.


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