All the Kaiser's Men: The Life and Death of the German Army by Ian Passingham

By Ian Passingham

Confident that either God and the Kaiser have been on their aspect, the officials and males of the Imperial German military went to battle in 1914, supremely convinced that they have been destined for a rapid and crushing victory within the West. The much-vaunted Schlieffen Plan on which the expected German victory used to be established supplied for an both decisive victory at the jap entrance. however it used to be to not be. From the wintry weather of 1914 till the early months of 1918, the battle at the Western entrance was once characterised via trench conflict.

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Germany’s ambitions were no more than the premium movers of this catastrophe than were Bonaparte’s dreams of world power the first cause of that of a century ago. It is certainly true, that Napoleon always maintained that his was not a premeditated career; it is surely as true, that the Germans never strove consciously to set the world on fire; both were driven to act as they did by circumstances over which they had no command. Again, in both cases the revolutions would have happened, in some form or other, if the immediate causes we perceive had not been acting; the ancient regime would have fallen, in all Western Europe, without the Corsican’s sword; the European equilibrium of yesterday would have upset without the pressure brought to bear from within by German armaments, because both events were due in any case as inevitable stages in evolution.

Conscripts and volunteers poured to the mustering stations arm-in-arm with comrades and girlfriends, laughing, flowers in their buttonholes. Of all the illusions that could be blamed for the enthusiasm in which Europe swarmed to the battlefields, the denial of modern war’s reality was most pernicious. Millions of British, French, German, and Russian men drove toward each other carrying the sentiments of élan and the tactics of speed, huge human freight trains bearing down on each other on the same track.

Where they could once almost ask their own price, they must now rigidly reduce their profits in order to sell their output. Have we not here at least one cause of the scramble for colonies in expanding markets which began about 1890 when the economic independence of the United States was becoming clear? Does not the rapidity with which the United States has developed since that time explain to some extent 20 World War I the imperative need of expanding markets which the European nations feel? A new solution of their problem had to be found, and was a difficult to discover as the economic relationship between the United States and Europe had been extraordinary and unprecedented.

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