+4 votes
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in Politics & Government ✌ by

Here is a fine TIMELINE documentary, claiming that Germany accepted its humiliating defeat in World War I unnecessarily. 

That the surrender could have been done with more honor, which would have been better for the whole world. And that Germany's general, Von Ludendorff, was for the last two years of the war essentially a military dictator. And although brilliant and patriotic, he was under such great stress that he was not thinking clearly, he was out of touch with the horrors of the war and saw the war through the pins on the map. That is, until he saw the slain body of his beloved stepson...and then he was devastated...again, affecting his decision-making.

I was thinking of Tink for this question, because of her thorough knowledge of German history and culture. But everyone invited/solicited to participate of course!

The problem is, of course, that WWI shaped so much of our history, even into the present day. And there is one comment under this YouTube video suggesting there are other interpretations of what was going on, other than this one from TIMELINE.

4 Answers

+4 votes
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Germany lost allies and could not fight alone. Bulgaria, Ottoman Empire and Austria - Hungary capitulated before Germany. Revolution destroyed German Empire. Any country would capitulate in such situation.

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It is very good points, Kninjanin...I remember you are in Serbia, you grew up with that history of the terrible world war, thank you.

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From my limited knowledge of WW1, the best I can say is that the Allies (France mostly) Armistice was written in fear and hatred for Germany and meant to crush them forever. All it really did was to bring about another war because of stupidity. No country could survive those harsh terms after that war.

You're mostly right about Ludendorff but Germany needed his strength to continue and survive as the Kaiser was a weakling and had little military knowledge. Hence Ludendorff's power. Without the likes of Ludendorff and Hindenburg ? Germany would have lost quite quickly and things just might have been different.

I honestly believe that if France would have been much more lenient in their terms, Hitler would never have come to power.

 

Treaty of Versailles - Definition, Terms & WWI - HISTORY


https://www.history.com › topics › world-war-i › treaty-of-versailles-1
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ty Hitman, that is helpful as I am attempting to understand our (USA) present situation with all its difficulties in the context of a historical perspective. WWI seems really a turning point in many ways. I looked also at what Rooster wrote, and now I am going to be more careful with this WWI commentator on the TIMELINE series...he might be getting a bit glib with his facts.

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I'm sorry but I don't buy that interpretation as von Ludendorff was a brilliant Prussian General but I'm sure with that "von" in his name that he was quite arrogant as society would see it.

I do agree that the whole surrender could have been with some compassion but I have to agree with Hitman that it was France that didn't think the treaty was harsh enough. From what I have read? The other Allies just wanted some reparations for their losses but France wanted Germany humbled and totally defeated forever. Their harshness cost them dearly in later years and did shape the world in a new light. Although not a great one.

I've never heard of Ludendorff being any kind of dictator and I do respect him for his strategies. And you have to remember that he was a Prussian!!!

Erich Ludendorff | German general | Britannica


https://www.britannica.com › biography › Erich-Ludendorff
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ty Rooster I am going to keep looking around for a full understanding of WWI...looks like this TIMELINE guy I was watching on YouTube might have some biases. 

I couldn't get your link to work either, or Hitman's...opens to the main site but not the topic...but I feel more certain all the time that WWI really did shape and contribute to the quandary we are still in...

+3 votes
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I think Germany's biggest mistake in WW1 was in not keeping the US out of the war. Without the sinking of the Lusitania and without the Zimmermann telegram (with its hare-brained scheme of promising Mexico a return of its territories lost in the Mexican War, if it would ally itself with Germany), public opinion in the US would probably have made US entry unlikely.

As it was, there were mutinies in the French army in 1917, and after the collapse of Russia, and a million extra German soldiers now available for the western front, I think the French would have been quite ready for an armistice on the basis of the status quo, had not the promise of American troops been at hand.

And if the French made peace with Germany, there would have been nothing for it but for the British to pack up and go home; they certainly could not have won a European land war against Germany single-handedly.

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Yes...I recall learning about the Zimmerman telegram, I think it was Barbara Tuchman's book?

Truly fascinating Tink, I am glad I asked this question. Here's something else I learned from this YouTube video, and it prolly is accurate, unlike his questionable assessment of Von Ludendorff...he says that against Great Britain, Germany used the strategy of going after their colonies; crucial to the Empire but far-flung, difficult to defend. And that, in fact, is how that local European conflict turned into truly a world war. You agree with that?

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That question would go back to Bismarck, the political genius who unified Germany and made it the dominant European power. He was, for the most part, opposed to a German colonial empire (because it would not pay, economically or politically), preferring to concentrate on keeping Germany the preponderant European power.

But when Wilhelm II became Kaiser, Bismarck's careful policies (where he knew precisely how far he could go) were scrapped, Bismarck was made to retire, and the Kaiser's much more aggressive and threatening policies were implemented, including (most alarmingly for Britain) the building of a naval fleet that could one day challenge the Royal Navy, another move that Bismarck would have opposed. I think it was these factors that made WW1 all the more probable.

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Tink, here is another question virtually impossible to answer..and yet you may have pondered this... the genius of Bismarck and his remarkable governing ability...one idea I have encountered is that when Hitler came along, Bismarck was still prominent in the memory of the people, who thought We have another genius here on the pattern of Bismarck, we can relinquish this ineffectual republican Weimar stuff and go back to something proven to work so well...?

Carrying on from before my computer crashed, I am still looking for what governing styles really work...and I think the USA is really in trouble now...the only governments I can see that really do function well seem to be the 'enlightened monarchy' style; Bismarck's style -- the problem being that the truly fine governors rarely come to power. And then like Bismarck they too often get maneuvered out by lesser lights. I do feel sure you will disagree with many of my premises but you are a good clear thinker; I still remember you saying, "Where is Cincinnatus when you need him?"

Oh, an addendum to that -- regarding the USA, I just choose to go along with (what I interpret as) Rooster's assessment, that we will muddle our way through this too and somehow come out okay!

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Well, the trouble is, Virginia, you have to be very careful about whom you give such power to.

The Nazis certainly tried to sell Hitler as another genius in the line of Frederick the Great and Bismarck.

image

This postcard describes the accomplishments of Frederick the Great and Bismarck the Iron Chancellor, and goes on to describe Hitler as the "People's Chancellor," who "has made an end to the degradation of the German Empire brought about by Marxism and Bolshevism, has again given the German people their national faith, has again awakened the spirit of Potsdam, and has completed the work of Bismarck's "unity-state." "

And then came the deluge. Close to 5 million young German men killed in WW2, more wounded, and that after 2 million had been killed in WW1 less than 30 years earlier, in a nation of only 70 million.

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That postcard is quite definitive...even down to the traditional font. It's quite poignant, actually...

Oh, Tink and I do recall also; wasn't it so that Wilhelm I did realize what Germany had going in Bismarck, it was not until Wilhelm II came in that Bismarck got diminished?

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Yes, Wilhelm I gave Bismarck pretty much a free hand, even though in some respects he was more liberal than Bismarck; after all Wilhelm would only have been king of Prussia if Bismarck hadn't made him Kaiser. :)

And yes, Wilhelm II was not very bright, was insecure about his withered left arm (which he tried to hide as much as possible), and had delusions of Germany's power; he wanted too much, too soon, and had no one of sufficient wisdom and stature to hold his outsized ambitions in check.

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