Beware of Germany

Discussion of current events
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cassowary
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Re: Beware of Germany

Post by cassowary » Mon May 28, 2018 1:31 pm

Sertorio wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 8:58 am
cassowary wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 8:42 am
Sertorio wrote:
Mon May 28, 2018 8:26 am

Why would a victory over France generate in Germany a "sense of victimhood"?...
You got it backwards. A feeling of victimhood led to German belligerence towards France. This did produce victory in 1870. It is not victory that produced victimhood. It was feeling of victimhood which led to belligerence which led to victory.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of ... ussian_War
The causes of the Franco-Prussian War are deeply rooted in the events surrounding the German unification. In the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War (1866), Prussia had annexed numerous territories and formed the North German Confederation. Prussia then turned its attention towards the south of Germany, where it sought to expand its influence.

France was strongly opposed to the annexation of the Southern German States (Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden and Hesse), which would have created too powerful a country next to its border. In Prussia, a war against France was deemed necessary to arouse German nationalism in those States that would allow the unification of a great German empire. This aim was epitomized by Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's quote: "I knew that a Franco-Prussian War must take place before a united Germany was formed."Bismarck also knew that France should be the aggressor in the conflict to bring the Southern German States to side with Prussia, hence giving Germans numerical superiority.

The immediate cause of the war resided in the candidacy of a Prussian prince to the throne of Spain –– France feared encirclement by an alliance between Prussia and Spain. The Hohenzollern prince's candidacy was withdrawn under French diplomatic pressure, but Otto von Bismarck goaded the French into declaring war by altering a telegram sent by William I. Releasing the Ems Telegram to the public, Bismarck made it sound as if the king had treated the French envoy in a demeaning fashion. Six days later, France declared war on Prussia and Southern German States immediately sided with Prussia.
Nothing here would justify any feeling of victimhood on the part of Prussia. And France declared war, not Prussia...
You are right. Germany was the real aggressor. But when France declared war, France was perceived to be the aggressor.
And of course Germans became the victims. But the important question to ask was whether Germans of that era felt victimized by the French before the French declaration of war.


That article gave the historical causes of war as power rivalry between France and Prussia. Was there a deeper cause as what the author said? Like the Germans feeling aggrieved by the French? I don't know. The author might be wrong on this point.

Certainly
The fact that Bismarck needed to manipulate the French to declare war suggests the feelings of victimhood was not strong.

neverfail
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Re: Beware of Germany

Post by neverfail » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:22 pm

Very interesting article on the background and causes of the Franco-Prussian War, cassowary.

Might I be so bold as to let the historian in me off the leash and add these further reminiscences?

1. That alliance of south German states had reason to oppose incorporation into this new imperial German reich. The new imperial state was overwhelming Lutheran (ruled by a Lutheran king-emperor) whereas the southern lander were almost wall-to-wall Catholic. It probably took the war scare of a conflict with neighbouring France to move these states to allow their sense of being German become dominant over the aversion towards becoming a religious minority within a state whose dominant religious tradition was crushingly hostile to the Catholic Church (in case you have never heard of Imperial German kulturkampf (culture struggle).

2. For centuries France had not had to worry too much about defending its eastern frontiers. The low countries; the jigsaw puzzle of German states that comprised the Holy Roman Empire; the Swiss Confederacy and the patchwork of Italian states were all so politically fragmented that none of them (or any combination of them) posed any threat to France. This no doubt help free up French energies to attend to other foreign policy matters - such as building an empire overseas. The emergence of this menacing new colossus to France's northeast by the end of the 1860's changed all of that. In light of that I believe a contest of arms between the two was inevitable.

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SteveFoerster
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Re: Beware of Germany

Post by SteveFoerster » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:32 am

neverfail wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:22 pm
For centuries France had not had to worry too much about defending its eastern frontiers. The low countries; the jigsaw puzzle of German states that comprised the Holy Roman Empire; the Swiss Confederacy and the patchwork of Italian states were all so politically fragmented that none of them (or any combination of them) posed any threat to France. This no doubt help free up French energies to attend to other foreign policy matters - such as building an empire overseas. The emergence of this menacing new colossus to France's northeast by the end of the 1860's changed all of that. In light of that I believe a contest of arms between the two was inevitable.
And yet France still far outdid Germany in the Scramble for Africa and that was after that.

(Not really disagreeing with you, just throwing that out there.)
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neverfail
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Re: Beware of Germany

Post by neverfail » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:56 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:32 am

And yet France still far outdid Germany in the Scramble for Africa and that was after that.
It did; but France got off to an earlier start.

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