Fritz Fischer and Remak

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by barbarasson, Mar 1, 2006.

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  1. Does anyone believe that the arguments within the parameters of the Fischer thesis are incorrect? This does not mean to say, unlike e.g Remak, that there were not other very important factors in causing the outbreak, but that Fischer himself misreads German intentions. I am currently bogged down reading criticisms of Fischer, but these seem to be structural rather then of detail. Thoughts from those who have a scoobies what I am talking about please.
  2. "....Send key setting. Over" :roll:
  3. It's a thesis on how WW1 started Ripper.

    Personally, I always thought it was because some exciteable Balkan bloke couldn't take a joke.
  4. Try Googling 'Fischer thesis', you get all sorts of weird stuff.

    (I've found bugger all about WW1 yet though!)
  5. The obvious refutation is that the "smoking gun" of the Hollweg plan wasn't drawn up untilafter the war started.

    Sure there was a bunch of Germans who thought it was time for a jolly good war. But does it prove that this was the dominant element?

    Naill Ferguson's Pity of War offers an interesting analysis of Germany's economic situation.

    Does there have to be a single "Right" theory about causality? Surely with complex historical events different factors gave an impetus to war.

    - The planning on the need to mobilise early (AJP Taylor)
    - Jingoism and rivalry
    - Persoanliity fonthe Kaiser. (why did Germany ever needto biuld a navy? )
    - Web of treaties
  6. The clarity I am trying to develop for myself is despite the undoubted motivations for all powers in 1914, did the powers slide into war by proxy of Remak's 'Third Balkan War' or alternatively did any of the powers seeks a European war in 1914? Clearly the 'blank cheque' gave Austria the confidence to threaten Belgrade, but was this done in order to cause the chain reaction?
  7. I find that many of these theories try to be a little bit too clever in their explanations. When you consider the (by todays standards) lousy comms available to governments, the changes in emphasis, nuance and even meaning of messages as they passed through the system via the ambassador, the precarious nature of the alliance structure, German desire for a place in the sun, the British Empire's desire to rule the waves, the cluster that was (and still is) the Balkans, the difference in what mobilisation meant to the various actors, the lack of understanding of the nature of a modern war (despite the American civil war and Franco-Prussian war showing the way) ... it looks to me like an accident waiting to happen.
  8. It also begs the question whether policy was rationally formed and executed by a single body acting as one mind. Look at the Kaiser's inconsistency. One minute bellicos support for Austria, the next trying to avoid any war spreading to France.

    For a modern analogy look atAnatomy of a decision by Allison (?) the analsysoi of the Kenendy government's decisionmaking durigng the Cuban Missile crisis.
  9. RTFQ


    I don't think it was a 'slide' into war per se. Conflict outside of the Balkans wasn't entered into by accident, or even (as I understand it) mission creep, instead the Central Powers saw such conflict as a necessary course of action to ensure successful resolution of 'The Balkan War.' Add a heady air of Social Darwinism (I hate that phrase) to the age-old desire for regional dominance, then you've got Austria-Hungary's motive. Germany was obligated to follow A-H's suit, but had potentially more to loose if the Triple Entente (GB, France and Russia) took exception and mobilised as a military alliance, what with Germany being slap bang in the middle of what would undoubtedly be it's enemies' axis of advance. Germany wasn't going to back Austria-H unless it could ensure it was going to be facing a de-fanged Triple Entente - which remember was strictly speaking a non-military agreement. To do that it needed to take France out of the equation, something the Schlieffen Plan promised. With france down, GB would think twice of committing and experience suggested Russia would take an age to mobilise.

    It didn't play out that way obviously.

    I don't know whether there is enough evidence to suggest that the Central Powers planned this coup de main all along. The fact that the Schlieffen Plan existed since 1904 suggests that Germany at least had contingencies for dealing with its strategic rivals, and was maybe even waiting for an opportunity to do so on its own terms. I don't buy that the Naval Arms Race was just a bit of royal hubris on the part of the Kaiser, a dominant navy meant reach and reach meant colonies, which meant Global Power. It was competing with the big boys and the biggest was Britain. Any chance to weaken it or its allies was to be taken.

    I don't believe the Central Powers wanted a European Total War, it undoubtably wanted to break the Triple Entente and gain control of the Balkans. As with most wars where the planners use phrases like "in and out", "won't know what hit them" and "little or no resistance" however, it turned out to be balls.

    Not even the most rabid Social Darwinists would really want to deliberately face the combined forces of Britain, France and Russia, especially not on more than one front.
  10. RTFQ, Good post.

    There are some interesting modern parallels.

    The Austria Hungarians saw this as a war on terror against Serbia state sponsors of terror. Bosnian Serb nationalsists started the Great War of 1914 to 1918 and provoked a conflict from which they eventually emerged as victorious. One of the few groups to have achieved their war aims. Nations facing a terrorist threat don't always react rationally. The Austirians recated violently to the provokation and idemanded war, even though the Serbs capitulated to their most extreme demands.

    Other parallels.

    - The Austro Hungarian dimploatic manoivres prior to war followed a similar pattern to the US and Iraq. The humiliating terms of an ultimatum - accepted by the Serbs, but then rejected by the Austro-Hungarians in favour of an invasion.

    - Gross under estimation of the difficulties of occuping Serbia.

    The big difference is that in 1914 the Serbs had an alliance with Russia. The Austro Hungarians may have underestimated Russian willingness to support Serbia. Boith they and the Germans underestimated the speed of the Russian mobilisation. Maybe the idea would have been to present the humiliation of Serbia as a fait acompli before the Russians mobilised. If Conrad v Hotzenrdoirf had been media trained he might even have described the tactics as shock and awe.

    So lets apply a C21st polemic. Germany was merely standing by its allies under provokation from state supporters of terroism. The fact that the Entente powers eventually won, doesn't disguise their status as the 1914 axis of evil. Were GWB to occupy the 1914 white house, surely the US would have been staunch supporters of the Central Powers? The vacuous debate about whether Germansy was responsbile for the war is merely a fig leaf to do disguise the fact that under the Bush doctrine, the wrong side won. :)

    BTW Princep's grand neice lives in London and her daughter is in the same class as my son. Discussions with their kids about their family history are interesting. "Alex what did your family doi in the First great War? .... "We started it ;)"
  11. It is interesting that Geiss absolves Serbia of state sponsored terrorism. He claims that as the assassination was not ordered bythe government officially, and as the assassins were Bosnians and not Serbs, Serbia could not be found guilty. He ignores the fact that Srbia stoked pan-Slavism and 'unnofficially' gave arms to Young Serbia via the Black Hand. It wouldn't wash today.
  12. It didn't then. Thats why the Austro Hungarians, not the most aggressive nation in thw world decided to invade Serbia.
  13. apart from Hitler of course.......
  14. ....but he joined the German army because he throught the Austrians weren't warry enough.
  15. True, then went back to Austria to re-warrify them!