Author Topic: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period  (Read 8838 times)

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Constantinople

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Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: November 12, 2010, 10:46:53 PM »
I came across something interesting in a book I am reading on Financial history.
In 1906 and 1907, the British government bailed out a couple of investment banks that got into trouble and had to borrow gold from France and Germany (or their central banks). Russia then shipped gold to Germany I think that this is an indication of little expectation there was of war.  I couldn't find details for the years immediately preceding WW1 but assume the same agreement held.  
    The purpose of this thread is to explore what indicators there were of a war immediately prior to the Great War. Or possibly, what indicators there weren't.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2010, 07:55:25 AM by Alixz »

Offline TimM

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2010, 05:42:08 AM »
It was the Kaiser's land grabbing that helped make everyone wary of him.

Offline Sergei Witte

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2010, 06:50:27 AM »
There were very little actual signs of an upcoming war before the assasiation of Franz Ferdinand.  With a hindsight we can now say that there were many but that is easy.

Actually, what land grabbing do you refer to, Tim? IMO it was more rhetoric of Wilhelm and the Ober Heeresleitung that were perceived as a threat to the British politicians that could be a sign of increasing tensions. Of course Wilhem was deaf to these developments. Before the assasination of Franz Ferdinand there were very little direct signs. Long term causes were of course there but they go back to 1880 or so.

The secrecy which surrounded agreements between countries was another tricker.

This changed after the assasination. Then it became obvious that Austria wanted war against Serbia and is was known that this would set a chain of reactions which would lead to a big European war.

Offline Sergei Witte

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2010, 11:28:52 AM »
Here you can find much info on signs of the War

http://net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/1914m/gooch/firstpps.htm

Offline Petr

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2010, 11:42:16 AM »
Great resource. Thanks.
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Constantinople

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2010, 11:50:53 AM »
Briilliant resource Sergei.  Actually it was the Austro Hungarians who were trying to expand into the Balkans.  The Russians were too after their defeat in the Russo Japanese war and this was causing some friction between Austro Hungary and Russia and Turkey and Russia.  The Germans were actually having problems developing an empire as they had started too late.  I am sure the Germans saw the prospect of a war as an opportunity to build on the small empire that they had developed.

Offline Petr

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2010, 12:04:52 PM »
Actually it was the Austro Hungarians who were trying to expand into the Balkans. 

But there was also the "Berlin to Baghdad Railroad" efforts of the German government, which also involved extending German influence into the Balkans and then on to Turkey (the Germans took a page out of Cecil Rhodes' book). Of course, the proximity of the Balkans to the Austro-Hungarians made their interest of expanding into the Balkans a natural (displeasing the pan-slavicists).
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Constantinople

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2010, 01:05:35 PM »
the berlin to baghdad railway wasnt exactly empire building except in the purely economic sense.  Germany was not trying to turn the ottoman Empire into a colony, mpre liike a client state.  As for the Balkans, it respected its ally's territorial sphere of influence.

Offline Sergei Witte

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2010, 03:32:50 PM »
The Balkans seem to be number one reason for the European tensions. As 3 of the biggest nations wanted to grow their influence in the Balkan States. (Russia, Austria and Germany)

Also the increasing agressive politics of England against Germany to protect their Empire were a reason for increasing tensions. They worked actively - but also secretly - on making alliances with France and Russia. This all increased the antagonism between nations.

Constantinople

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2010, 10:14:15 PM »
Prior to the Baghdad to Berlin railway, the main problem that Britain had with its Indian colonies was Russia moving down and gaining influence in Afghanistan and Persia. 

By the way, there are two stations in Istanbul (Serkici - which was the terminus for the Orient Express) and one near Kadikoy which were gifts of the Germans for allowing the Turkish stretch of the Berlin to Baghdad railway.

Offline Petr

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2010, 08:58:23 PM »
the berlin to baghdad railway wasnt exactly empire building except in the purely economic sense.  Germany was not trying to turn the ottoman Empire into a colony, mpre liike a client state.  As for the Balkans, it respected its ally's territorial sphere of influence.

Well of course turning the Ottoman empire into Germany's client state would not be looked on favorably by the British (or the other triple entente parties). As the colonial powers showed, economic empire building was often followed by a more aggressive form of de facto or even de jure occupation (hence the reference to Rhodes and his railroad). In either case it would have been perceived as a threat to British (and French) interests in the middle east. The Russians would not be happy either  or both because of their cultural and religious solidarity with the Balkans and/or their concerns about the possible effect it would have on the control of the Bosphorus. The Ottoman Empire at that point was the "sick man of Europe" and did not pose a threat to Russia in this regard but direct or indirect German control of the straits could pose a grave threat.  Plus the Ottomans were still in control of a large swath of the middle east and impinged on Britain's position in Egypt and Mesopotamia. 
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Offline Clemence

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2017, 02:18:07 PM »
Found this very interesting:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_crisis

There's a whole episode of the Fall of Eagles series on this: "Dress Rehearsal", I was just curious if anyone ever discussed that in this forum in the past.
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Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2017, 05:02:50 PM »
This crisis is also mentioned in Nicholas and Alexandra and more than a few other books. Lets just say it left the Russians humiliated and next time they were not going to back down. Nicholas in 1911 or 12 said he wanted to avoid a major war until 1917 until the country and army could recover from the effects of the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 revolution. In 1914 when FF is assassinated the Austrians saw this as their last chance to crush Serbia  before Russia became to strong. result WWI.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2017, 06:15:08 PM »
The murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was not "an excuse" to start a war. Serbia in 1914 was a rogue state, the murder of the heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife was the result of a conspiracy in which senior officers in the Serbian army were involved. One of them was "Apis", the head of their Intelligence service. Austria had a very strong case to occupy Serbia and put some order in her backyard.

Russia simply had no business there. Douglas Smith in his book Rasputin writes how Rasputin opposed the war until it was declared.

"He [Rasputin] told the Petersburger Newspaper on 13 October 1912:

"What have our "little brothers" about whom our writers screamed, whom they defended, shown us? [...] We have seen the deeds of our little brothers and now we understand [...] Everything [...] Yes [...] As concerns all those various alliances there, well, alliances are good, as long as there's no war, but once war heats up, where are all those allies? They're invisible.
So, fine, dear man, you, by way of example, but look! There's war in the Balkans. And so writers begin to shout in all those newspapers: Let us have war, let us have war! So we, naturally, must fight [...] And they have been calling everyone to war and stoking the fire [...] So I then would ask them [...] I'd ask those writers: "Gentlemen! Why are you doing this? Do you think this is right? One must try to dampen passions if there are tensions, or it'll lead to a big war, and not enflame people's anger and hatred."

And after the murder of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, with Rasputin recovering of an assasination attempt (he had been stabbed in his village of Pokrovskoe by a follower of one of his enemies, the monk Iliodor), he kept sending telegrams to the tsar trying to prevent the war.

"On 12 July [Old Style, 25 July 1914 NS] Rasputin wired Vyrubova: "A serious moment, there's a threat of war." The next day he cabled again, urging her to tell the tsar to avoid war at any cost. On the following day, 14 July, he received an unsigned telegram from Peterhof, most likely from Vyrubova, asking him to change his mind and support the calls for war: "You are aware that our mortal enemy Austria is preparing to attack little Serbia. That country is almost entirely made up of peasants, utterly devoted to Russia. We shall be covered in infamy should we permit this shameless reprisal. If the occasion arises, use your influence to support this just cause. Get well soon."

Rasputin, a Russian peasant, didn't buy the official version of "brave, little Serbia", peopled by "good Orthodox peasants". 

Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2017, 09:32:41 PM »
This crisis is also mentioned in Nicholas and Alexandra and more than a few other books. Lets just say it left the Russians humiliated and next time they were not going to back down. Nicholas in 1911 or 12 said he wanted to avoid a major war until 1917 until the country and army could recover from the effects of the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 revolution. In 1914 when FF is assassinated the Austrians saw this as their last chance to crush Serbia  before Russia became to strong. result WWI.

James, could you shed some light on you comment about Russia wanting to wait until 1917 before they waged war? I've heard you mention this before and I'm curious.

What did the three years between 1914 and '17 offer Russia? Certainly they weren't lacking in manpower and nothing on the horizon from a technological standpoint comes to mind. Such as major innovations in infrastructure and weaponry. Was it their economy that needed a little more time to recover?
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