Germany and the Two World Wars
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Germany and the Two World Wars by Andreas Hillgruber
Book DescriptionOne of the most hotly disputed topics in twentieth-century history has been Germany's share of responsibility its guilt for the outbreak of the two world wars. In this short, penetrating study, Europe's leading authority on German power politics clarifies the dispute and offers insight into this central question about modern Germany."
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780674353220
(238mm x 159mm x 7mm)
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1990
Country of Publication: United States
US Kirkus Review » German responsibility for touching off two World Wars should not obscure the fact - historian Hillgruber (Univ. of Cologne) maintains in this short, compelling assessment - that German aims at the outset of each were importantly different: restricted, in the first instance; expansionist, in the second. Or, motivated by the fear of power prior to World War I; by the desire to exercise power, prior to World War II. But there is, he shows, a link. Imperial Germany felt threatened by the growth of Russian power; but the solutions of Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg and the military high command differed - with drastic results. The military planned for a war in which a quick victory over France would be followed by the defeat of Russia (the Schlieffen Plan), leaving England with a fait accompli and Germany preeminent on the Continent. In Hollweg's scenario, on the other hand, a limited strike by Austria on Serbia (such as occurred in 1914) would be followed by a bluff of German force against Russia - which would step back, knowing it was not yet strong enough to defeat Germany. Germany would then enter into negotiations with England toward recognition of German preeminence. But the Russian military failed to inform the Czar of his army's weakness, and the Russians did not step back; and that, combined with a military attack in the west - itself a direct threat to England - sealed the fate of Hollweg's gamble. Integral to Hollweg's plan had been the acknowledgment that Germany could not compete with England on a world scale; hence his choice of a middle Europe economic sphere for Germany. But during the war, Hillgruber demonstrates, German aims shifted toward annexation of territory in the east, partly to secure German economic strength in the area. The German army succeeded in occupying the Ukraine, only to lose it in the Versailles peace negotiations - and the new, nationalist resentment created a climate for the foreign policy aims of Hitler. He, however, placed these expansionist aims in the context, not of traditional political goals, but - crucially - of an all-encompassing anti-Semitism and drive for racial unification. Composed as an essay, Hillgruber's readable study extracts new significance from familiar material, adding up to an important accomplishment for anyone with an interest in modern European history. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber is Professor of History, University of Cologne. a href="http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~fairbank" target="new"> the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.
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