Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Hundred Years Later

There are five elements (by my best guess) over Prussian/German views of the US prior to World War I....which rarely get discussed or put on the table for people to think about.  We tend to see 1914 to modern-day Germany, and it's simply not that way.

1.  The Kaiser and his surrounding staff (mostly Prussian military officers and people who readily agreed with the Kaiser).....all believed that President Wilson's chief stance was to avoid war participation at all costs.  The 1916 election in November?  It was entirely run and the Kaiser put an anti-war President into office.  So, nothing that the Germans the aggressive sub-hunter episodes, sinking of US ships, or the kidnapping of Americans ship crews....would ever force the US to take sides.  It was a mistake in thinking.

2.  The Kaiser and his staff.....generally believed from the outside that the war would only last one year....then some type of peace agenda would fall into place.....some annexation episodes to be gained by Prussia/Germany.....and things would fall right back into place.  By summer of 1915....economics in Germany were fairly negative and the public was suffering.  Other than allocating scarce food resources.....there was virtually nothing else done to make the public believe in the war except positive newspaper articles.  It was a mistake in thinking.

3.  What the Kaiser and his staff had to view in terms of US capabilities over the past fifty-odd years....was the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.  While they might readily admit that the Americans were awful clever at new technology development in weapons.....there wasn't anything special about American tactics or capabilities.  The continued support by the US for terms of food shipments to the isle....was a high mark of frustration for the Prussian military, and continued to draw their criticism of American policy throughout the war.  It was a mistake in thinking.

4.  The Kaiser and his Prussian/German military staff continued to pump up this logical talk of Prussians who lived in the US, and were coming over via a country like Sweden, and then arriving to enlist in the Prussian army.  Hundreds and thousands were part of this great show of support.  To this day (2014).....there is no evidence of any German-Americans ever making the trip over and joining the German military.  None.  Yet, this was widely chatted about and believed....even at the level of the Kaiser.  It was a mistake in thinking.

5.  The Kaiser and his Prussian staff generally believed that a show of support by Germans-Americans would be drawn out and create a counter to any possible US involvement in World War I.  These first and second generation in the US.....would side with the motherland.  They were wrong.  It was a mistake in thinking.

About one year into the war (summer of 1915) was obvious that it was stalled and offensive actions by any participant in the war....was not going to occur.  Prussia/Germany had one extreme weakness in all this planning and execution of the required a draft of sorts, and participation of a major amount of the men in Prussia/Germany.  Agriculture, construction, and day-to-day operations were simply not capable of sustaining themselves....hence, the reason why women and children began to really figure into all farm work, construction projects, and village/city activities.

From that one-year point was seriously draining Germany of capability.  Food was produced at a lesser level....medical resources became rationed.....and life became miserable waiting on the war to end.

A hundred years later?  Few understand the big picture and the amount of suffering that the public went through....or the naive nature of the Kaiser's crew in grasping the impact of the US into the war.

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