Friday, February 10, 2012

If Germany Had Won The War

This excellent article was first published in The War Illustrated and is on the brilliant site A Great War in a Different Light.

Published in December 1918 it lays out for all to read the territorial ambitions of the Kaiser.

If Germany Had Won

I saw a leaflet the other day which the German Bolshevists, known as the Spartacus group, had issued. (Spartacus was the leader of a revolt of slaves against the oppression of their Roman masters.) This leaflet sketched the conditions which would be created for Germany by a German victory. The firmer fixing of the Junker yoke upon the people's neck, the intensifying of the "Imperial madness," the triumph of reaction in every form, militarism all-powerful, Germany an armed camp, "holding down conquered Europe by blood and iron," bankrupt in purse, too exhausted by military effort for industry of the wholesome kind, with no shipping, no trade — these were the consequences foretold if Germany should win. Foretold by Germans who had the sense to see through the lies with which the ruling class deluded the people. No one who has studied Pan- Germanism can doubt that the prophecy was well founded.

But while the interest of the Spartacus group was in the German conditions which would follow a victory for the Old Gang, we are more interested in the terms of peace which they would have imposed upon us and our Allies. Field-Marshal Hindenburg calls the armistice conditions "hard." The "women of the new Fatherland" have sent out an appeal to the women of all lands, urging that "the innocent victims of an infamous system" ought not to be punished. Prince Lichnowsky has protested against a "peace of violence." Have they all forgotten ?

The Kaiser's Boast

Up to a few-months ago the German leaders were boasting about the peace they would make. "Not an easy one," crowed the Kaiser in March last. "No peace until we have impressed our will upon the Entente Powers !" was Hindenburg's reply when he was asked by a correspondent at the end of 1916, "Are you willing to make peace ?"

What would "impressing their will" upon us have meant ? We have ample means of judging. The leaders of German opinion have on various occasions during the war announced what they considered to be the least that Germany could expect in the way of "compensation" and "guarantees for the future." In a statement circulated in large quantities by the " Committee for a German Peace," and sanctioned by General von Stein, War Minister, these demands were set forth :

"Belgium must remain dependent upon Germany in a military, economic, and political sense.

"We must have the French mineral districts of Briey and Longwy, and improve our frontiers, especially in the Vosges.

"We must possess the old German Baltic Provinces, rich soil for German peasant colonisation.

"Our enemies must pay the cost of the war in raw materials, ships, money, and territory,"

That was the programme of the Fatherland Party. It was against this that, in a fit of depression during the summer of 1917, the Reichstag passed its "No annexations, no indemnities" resolution. But that mood did not survive the March offensive. "War aims," the Vice-President of the Prussian Ministry avowed, "are bound to change with the political and military situations. We are the victors, and we feel ourselves the victors." So down came the "No annexations, no indemnities" placard. Up went the demands for vast sums of money, large and valuable increases of territory.

Do not imagine that the demands were advanced only by the wild men of the Fatherland Party. In January, I917, Mr. Gerard had a talk with the Imperial Chancellor, Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, who told him frankly: "We must have Liege and Namur, and other Belgian forts and garrison towns. We must have railroad lines, ports, and other means of communications in Belgium. We must keep a large army there. And we must control the commerce of Belgium."

Exactly the Fatherland Party's programme — military, economic, and political domination. Yet this was the same Bethmann-Hollweg who confessed at the beginning of the war that Germany had done wrong to Belgium, and who promised that the wrong should be repaired. No thought of repair was in his mind in 1917.

He proposed that the wrong should be made permanent for Germany's benefit.

Further, he claimed annexations from France, Russia, and Italy, with indemnities from all Germany's opponents, and "all ships back." Thus the Imperial Chancellor accepted the claims formulated a few months after war began by the six leading German associations. In March, 1915, they sounded the key-note to which from that time all German voices were pitched. "Victims of an infamous system," the German people now call themselves. How was it not a voice was raised among the German people against their "infamous system" and greedy and domineering aims ?

The six societies, representing all classes, were : the Landlords' Union ; the Central Association of German Manufacturers ; the Middle Classes' Association (consisting chiefly of Government officials); the- German Peasants' Society; and the League of Christian Peasants. Their memorandum to the Government declared that: "As the indispensable condition of German sea-power, Belgium must be subjected to German Imperial law, in both military and in tariff matters, while the industrial undertakings and landed property in Belgium must be transferred to German hands."

Belgium, then, if the German will had been impressed upon the Entente Powers, would have ceased to exist as an independent State. That is as clear as day.

Next, the six associations explained what they would do with. France. The coastal districts must be in German possession as far as the Somme. Look at the map to see what this meant. The mines of Briey and Longwy must be taken from France, with the fortresses of Verdun and Belfort, and in this neighbourhood all "industrial establishments" of any importance must remain in German hands.

The anxiety to secure the Briey and Longwy districts was caused by the existence of very valuable iron-ore deposits, discovered since the annexation of 1871, and for at least seven years past coveted by the German iron-masters. The Germans had no possible claim to them, beyond the claim of the burglar to the silver forks and spoons which, he. steals. No more shameless admission of the objects to be attained by successful war has ever been made public. And this was not the admission of the men at the head of "the infamous system" by which Germany was governed, but that of the representatives of the German people.

They added that, as industrial Germany would thus be extended in the west, so agricultural Germany should be given the chance to extend eastward. This meant the annexation of "at least part" of the Baltic Provinces and of Poland.

German Popular Approval

These remained Germany's war-aims until the summer of this year. The German people, as a whole, approved of them until it became clear that the world would never allow them to be realised.

What would it have meant if they had been realised ? We should have had a German coast-line opposite to our coast-line, not only on the east, but on the south-east as well, as far as Hastings. Belgium would have been added to Germany. Down through Central Europe there would have been a wide belt of German territory, for what belonged to Germany's allies would soon have belonged to Germany. This would have stretched across the Dardanelles. into Asia, and thence German domination would have continued as far as the Persian Gulf.

Two well-known writers on Colonial subjects brought out a book as recently as June last in which they advocated the forming of a German Mohammedan block in Africa and Asia, and the forcible annexation of the western half of Morocco and Senegambia, the French Sudan, Dahomey, the Ivory Coast, the Portuguese Colonies, and Nigeria. And until Britain evacuated Nigeria, said the authors, "Germany will hold the Suez Canal as an armistice hostage."

Can it be said that there is anything in the allied-intentions as to peace terms which will even approach the harshness of the sacrifices which Germany would have exacted from us all if she had won ? A German peace would have left Europe bleeding and bitterly resentful, would have made another war certain. The allied peace shall, we intend, heal all. wounds and smooth away all anger, and leave the world with a League of Nations to guarantee it against further outbreaks of madness of the Imperialist type.

How Great Britain Would Have Fared

There will be no such country as Great Britain in existence at the end of the war. In its place we shall have Little Britain, a narrow strip of island territory, peopled by loutish football kickers, living on the crumbs that Germany will deign to throw to them. Certain it is that the laughable and childish military system of Britain will shortly fall to pieces. Then the once-mighty Empire, with her naval strength represented by the few old tubs which Germany will have left her, will become the laughing-stock of the nations, the scarecrow at which children will point their fingers in disdainful glee.

"Cologne Gazette," Sept., 1914.

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