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Remembered Today:

The Kaiser and Germanic Supremacy

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Guest Erasmus777

Good day,


I wonder if anyone could assist. I’m afraid I am going to dredge up that old topic, the causes of the Great War. Amateur historian that I am, however, I am seeking to iron out one or two things, and was hoping more experienced minds could help.


I believe that current opinion concerning the Causes concerns Germany’s (and Austria’s) desire to curb what they saw as a rising Russian power, which they believed might become too powerful within a few years. Germany and Austria thus saw an attack on Russia as a ‘pre-emptive war’, a necessary attempt to do now what they would not be able to in a few years’ time.


At the same time, I believe that they anticipated that such a pre-emptive move on their part would inevitably drag many of the major powers into the conflict; thus the reference, in their private correspondence, to a ‘weldkrieg’ (world war) even preceding 1914.


What I am slightly puzzled about concerns several books I have read that trace a German ideology of the destiny of Germanic supremacy, an idea that has its roots in the 18th century. A thesis from the 1950s, for instance, traces the gradual rise of the idea that the Germanic peoples were destined to be superior to all others, an idea that was entertained by the Kaiser and which, of course, found its highest expression in the Aryanism of the 1930s.


I also read an admittedly older book, that by Hilaire Belloc (A General Sketch of the European War, (1915)), who charges the Kaiser with wanting war for the purpose of advancing this ideology and forcing German imperial interests.


I am aware that this theory seems to have been replaced by the current one which I outlined above, viz., that of usurping Russian power. My question, however, is: to what extent did this ideology of Germanic supremacy for its own sake influence the start of the War. i.e., disregarding how powerful Russia was felt to be, did the Kaiser have personal imperial ambitions based on felt Germanic supremacy, that caused him to push for war regardless?




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Hello Erasmus!

I think, I can´t answer your questions, because it´s a big question, and my english seems to be bad enough, that you won´t understand...

But I can warmly recommend the following books:

1) Christopher Clark: The sleepwalkers. How Europe went into war in 1914

2) Annika Mombauer: The origins of the first world war (controversies and consensus)

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