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1998 Closed threads from 1998 (read only)

 
 
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Old 9 January 1999, 04:48 AM   #61
Leo Sweeney
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The Friedensturm may well have stalled because of the German capture of the British Supply depots. The germans nelieve it failed because there was no way to communicate with the the troops who were out of touch with their commanders. The germans also "left behind" a miilion troops occupying their eastern conquests. Had more of those been sent west who knows what might have happened. These veteran troops in place of the of the green units thrown into combat could have brought different results.>

I believe that once the Serbian army was mobilized during the period in which the Ultimatum was being considered, there was absolutely no chance of preventing war. It was the first pebble in an avalanche which could not be controlled.
 
Old 11 January 1999, 07:27 AM   #62
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Jim, I still think you exaggerate how completely new "stormtroop" tactics were in 1918. I'm going on P.Griffith "Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army's Art of Attack" (Yale 1994) mostly here. Which BTW is an excellent read. But J.Bailey "The 1st World War and the Birth of the Modern Style of Warfare" (Strategic & Combat Studies Inst, 1996) seems to agree too. They see evolution through Verdun, Somme, Ypres, 1918, rather than revolution.

As for Haig not doing the attrition business as efficiently as he might have, I would agree. But I think his desire for breakthroughs (as well) was understandable, as does John Terrain (military historian and one of Haig's biographers):

"When wars are long over, people tend to forget how compelling was the desire to finish them. The generals of WWI are often spoken and written about as if they engaged in murdrous battles for their own sake. The truth is that General Joffre's costly battles of 1915 were inspired by the desire to end the war in that year, and thus staunch the flow of his country's life-blood. The Allied offensive of 1916 had the same aim. General Nivelle, in early 1917, was trying to end it with a single mighty stroke in 48 hours; Field-Marshal Haig was also trying to end the war, in his Flanders ("Passchendaele") offensive. Field-Marshal Montgomery's object, with his single-thrust strategy in 1944, was similar. It is by no means a wicked motivation - the contrary, in fact. But it is not often easy to accomplish." (*)

I think this desire to breakthrough and end it all - and at the same time, the knowledge that attrition was on the Allies' side - explains why he was prepared for heavy casualties in the opening phase of a battle, and also why he was then prepared to continue it, after hope of a sudden breakthrough had disappeared.

Of course he made mistakes along the way, but I don't think they justify the huge amount of criticism dumped on his memory - particularly the criticism that he just didn't care about mens' lives.

(*) p.792, "The Right of the Line" J.Terrain (Hodder & Stoughton, 1985)
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Old 11 January 1999, 09:59 AM   #63
Axel Schudak
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Hi Jim,

(this will be a long one again)

>I quote Prince Lichownowsky's (the German Ambassador to England) reply dated July 1914:

To dispute this statement from Lichinowsky, we have to know something about him.
Lichinowsky was stronly Anlgophile, and so he was vehemently against any war
between Germany and England. This led to severe wish-thinking in Lichinowsky,
resulting in his famous message to Berlin that London would stay neutral and
guarantee that France would stay neutral, too, if Germany would not wage war
against France. It was August the first, and the mobilization was already on
its move. In addition, the French fleet was already on its way to the mediterran
sea, leaving the protection of its coasts to the Royal Navy. Lichinowskys
message was basing on a phone call with Gray in which he likely had misunderstood
him or was deliberately led to this.
The Kaiser (more correct: Moltke) refused to stop the whole mobilization but gave
a guarantee to England that German troops would not violate French territory until
the third, and that if the proposal proofed to be true would not attack. At the same
time, the planned occupation of Luxemburg (especially the important railway-node there)
was postponed. Lichinovsky had to report some six hours later that there simply was
no such English proposal.

In his later estimation of the situation you have to consider that Lichinowsky
had only very few informations. He only knew from the German position what
they send them to London, he knew the opinions of his (mostly british) friends
and of course he had the british press.
He certainly did not knew that the Serbian secret service was really behind the
assassination or that even the Russian secret service had knowledge of it before
(a fact that was only confirmed by a Jugoslavian court in the fifties). He did
not knew about the full Russian mobilization that was (according do the british
Historian J. Turner) already running since the 26th, Turner states: "with French
knowledge". Lichinovsky also did not knew of the diplomatic proceedings between
Germany and Austria that had put Germany in the situation to either stop Austria
(thereby alienating the only left ally and showing weakness in the face of a
Russian threat) or to follow their lead.
Considering all of this, Lichinowsky´s opinion is imho just that: the personal
subjective opinion of someone whose dream of a British/German alliance was just
blown to hell by reasons he did not understand (or did not want to understand).


Most important:
It is not my intention to proof that Germany was innocent on this war. I would
even dispute this statement. It is my point that Russia, Austria,
France and Great Britain had their part this conflict, and that it can be shown
that this war was prepared by all participants for years. Germany was not different
from all the other imperialistic nations (a term that imho meets the democracies,
too), they just had the worst diplomats.

Just remember that the original reason for the 1911-marocco crisis was not
a German expansion, but the French annexation of Marocco as a colony.
The reason for Germanies demand of some part of the Kongo was not Marocco, but
the fact that this colony was led in a way that not only Germany but France
and Britain threatened Belgium with war (it was the origin of "the heart of
darkness"). The fact that Marocco 1911 remained mainly as an act of German
militarism is another example of bad PR.

(more to follow)
 
Old 11 January 1999, 10:00 AM   #64
Axel Schudak
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Hi Jim,

(this will be a long one again)

>I quote Prince Lichownowsky's (the German Ambassador to England) reply dated July 1914:

To dispute this statement from Lichinowsky, we have to know something about him.
Lichinowsky was stronly Anlgophile, and so he was vehemently against any war
between Germany and England. This led to severe wish-thinking in Lichinowsky,
resulting in his famous message to Berlin that London would stay neutral and
guarantee that France would stay neutral, too, if Germany would not wage war
against France. It was August the first, and the mobilization was already on
its move. In addition, the French fleet was already on its way to the mediterran
sea, leaving the protection of its coasts to the Royal Navy. Lichinowskys
message was basing on a phone call with Gray in which he likely had misunderstood
him or was deliberately led to this.
The Kaiser (more correct: Moltke) refused to stop the whole mobilization but gave
a guarantee to England that German troops would not violate French territory until
the third, and that if the proposal proofed to be true would not attack. At the same
time, the planned occupation of Luxemburg (especially the important railway-node there)
was postponed. Lichinovsky had to report some six hours later that there simply was
no such English proposal.

In his later estimation of the situation you have to consider that Lichinowsky
had only very few informations. He only knew from the German position what
they send them to London, he knew the opinions of his (mostly british) friends
and of course he had the british press.
He certainly did not knew that the Serbian secret service was really behind the
assassination or that even the Russian secret service had knowledge of it before
(a fact that was only confirmed by a Jugoslavian court in the fifties). He did
not knew about the full Russian mobilization that was (according do the british
Historian J. Turner) already running since the 26th, Turner states: "with French
knowledge". Lichinovsky also did not knew of the diplomatic proceedings between
Germany and Austria that had put Germany in the situation to either stop Austria
(thereby alienating the only left ally and showing weakness in the face of a
Russian threat) or to follow their lead.
Considering all of this, Lichinowsky´s opinion is imho just that: the personal
subjective opinion of someone whose dream of a British/German alliance was just
blown to hell by reasons he did not understand (or did not want to understand).


Most important:
It is not my intention to proof that Germany was innocent on this war. I would
even dispute this statement. It is my point that Russia, Austria,
France and Great Britain had their part this conflict, and that it can be shown
that this war was prepared by all participants for years. Germany was not different
from all the other imperialistic nations (a term that imho meets the democracies,
too), they just had the worst diplomats.

Just remember that the original reason for the 1911-marocco crisis was not
a German expansion, but the French annexation of Marocco as a colony.
The reason for Germanies demand of some part of the Kongo was not Marocco, but
the fact that this colony was led in a way that not only Germany but France
and Britain threatened Belgium with war (it was the origin of "the heart of
darkness"). The fact that Marocco 1911 remained mainly as an act of German
militarism is another example of bad PR.

(more to follow)
 
Old 11 January 1999, 10:13 AM   #65
Axel Schudak
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Posts: n/a

(hmpf - bouncing keyboard - sorry for the repeater)

Well, back to at least one statement of Lichinovsky:

>3. On the 30th of July, when Count Berchtold showed a disposition to change
>his course, we sent an ultimatum to St. Petersburg merely
>because of the Russian mobilization and though Austria had not been attacked;

MERELY?
All militaries KNEW that from all possible situations it was the
RUSSIAN mobilization that would start a war. No potential enemy of
Russia could allow Russia to fully mobilize, and (like many visitors
to Russia have reported) the Russian officer corps where preparing
for a war with Germany.
At this time, the Russian troops directly opposite Germany where already
mobilizing for days, and if you read the Willy-Nilly telegrams (which
where certainly not available to Lichinovsky at this time) you will
see that neither the Czar nor the Kaiser where totally in control of
their respective nations.

>and on the 31st of July we declared war against the Russians,
>although the Czar pledged his word that he would not permit a single man to
>march as long as negotiations were still going on. Thus we
>deliberately destroyed the possibility of a peaceful settlement.

Lichinovsky certainly was not introduced into the military necessities.
A peaceful settlement with a fully mobilized Russian army was
certainly no possibility that Bethman-Holweg or the Kaiser could expect.

To the other mail...

>The French had been able to take on all of Europe back in the days of Louis XIV and Napoleon.
>It had now fallen so far behind the other powers that it was too weak to
>even take major initiatives on it's own.

Hardly a statement a French would subcribe, at least not in 1914. They
knew that they where too weak to take on Germany alone.

> ... The French military had a mobilized strength
>of 3.5 million to the German's 3.8 million.
>France had a much smaller population than Germany did (45 million compared to 65 million).

Indeed. And it was Germany who is accused of militarism.

>During this crisis Germany used gunboat diplomacy to obtain a slice of the Congo in e
>xchange for it's acceeding to a French protectorate over
>Morocco.
You think it is NOT gunboat diplomacy to take over another nation?

>The 1911 crisis also resulted in an accelerated arms race: Germany increased the size of
>its standing army from 612,000 in 1911 to 782,000 in
>1913, while the French army increased from 593,000 to 700,000. Germany knew war was coming,
>the whole world knew. Russia's military preparations had an even greater impact on Germany's
>sense of vulnerability. It was projected that by 1917 the French-financed improvements in
>the Russian railway system would allow Russia to mobilize in 18 days. Such speedy mobilization
>would wreck Germany's Schlieffen Plan, which counted on slow Russian mobilization.

Now, given this statement from you together with the "whole world knew war would come",
how comes that you blame Germany alone for the ourbreak of the Great War?

Germany knew that Russia was modernizing its army with French help since 1911, and
that eventually they would loose the arms race. The situation was comparable to the
Cold War, when you just KNEW where the enemy stood. What do you expect then when one
country starts to amass its troops at the border?
When Israel made its strike in 1967 they did so because they could not afford to
wait. The same military situation is true for Germany in 1914.

I repeat: It is NOT my intention to proof that Germany had no fault in this war.
But I do blame France, Great Britain, Russia and Austria for the outbreak, all to
a certain degree, all with enough guilt to actually make the people blame their
own leaders first for all the suffering of this war. When the war ended the leaders
of the victorious nations choose to blame it all on the looser, so that a real
evaluation of the situation leading to the war was not done until it was far too
late.

Long one... So much for now. I will be offline until the 28th, but will surely look
in again then.

Best regards

Axel
 
Old 12 February 1999, 01:33 AM   #66
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