Sunday, 21 September 2014

All tied up ...

This cartoon shows the German chancellor's dogs of war chewing over the bones of Europe. The Reichskanzler in question is Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, who held the post from 1909 to 1917. Our cartoon shows Bethmann Hollweg in uniform. He was never in the army, but did wear a general's uniform while about his business in Berlin. Odd, to say the least, but in 1914 Germany, a military uniform of some description was apparently de rigeur if one was to be taken at all seriously.

Bethmannn Hollweg's diplomatic deceptions in 1914 helped lead Europe to war. (His attempts beforehand to butter-up the British had failed to convince.) Just as well the British spurned his advances, because his so-called "September Programme" of 1914 revealed truly aggressive expansionist plans in which a quick European war was to be followed by grandiose victory demands.

These were the annexation of Luxembourg, Belgium and parts of Northern France, including a generous slice of the Channel coast. A fine of ten billion Reichsmarks was to be levied on France, along with crippling war reparations. The French would be forced to disarm, and their economy would be henceforth controlled by Germany. In the east, a new German empire would be created from the westernmost parts of the Russian Empire, while German Africa would be formed from French colonies and the Belgian Congo, and positioned so as to rival British overseas possessions.

In the event things didn't quite turn out that way, even after Adolf Hitler tried and failed to implement the plan a second time.

In a very real sense, what we are accustomed to call World War Two, is in reality just World War One Part Two.

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